Diversion, Go-Around, and Stuff

Today was my last flight with my CFI before my XC Solo to Ramona. As such we needed to work on a few more things before he turns me loose. He had told me that we would be working on a diversion this flight so I had scoped out available…

Written by
Richard Brown
Published on
16 Jul 2016

Today was my last flight with my CFI before my XC Solo to Ramona. As such we needed to work on a few more things before he turns me loose. He had told me that we would be working on a diversion this flight so I had scoped out available airports that were far enough away from KCNO and on the route for the flight to count as XC. The only one that fit the bill was Palomar KRCQ. I checked the weather before leaving home and Ramona had 500′ ceiling and Palomar was even lower at 300′, the typical morning marine layer. KCNO had said it was 1,100′ but it was lifting.

When I got to the airport I talked with my CFI about the plan.

CFI: “Well, hopefully everything lifts because right now Ramona and my diversion are socked in.”
Me: “Yeah, I checked Palomar before I left home and saw that.”
CFI: “That’s cheating.”
Me: “How? I was just looking at available airports along the route ‘in case there were any problems.’ I call it good planning… :)”
CFI: “Okay…”

The flight had quite a few ‘firsts’ in it, which is always nice to experience with the CFI in the right seat, just in case… I pre-flighted the plane and we taxied down the hanger row to the end where I contact ground. I called in and requested taxi to 26R like normal and stated I had a VFR request like before. Ground told me to contact Clearance for the VFR request. I looked at my CFI and he said they almost never use Clearance there, but we switched over the radio and put in our request. Then it was back to Ground for taxi clearance and we headed to the run-up area. Everything looked good, we received our squawk code from the tower, take off clearance, and we were off.

Shortly after making my turn the tower told me to contact SOCAL so I switched over and they gave me clearance to climb to my cruising altitude of 5,500′. I love when they let you climb straight up instead of making you wait to clear KONT’s 2,700′ shelf that KCNO sits under.

Most of the flight was my CFI quizzing me on how far I could make it if I lost my engine (which he did pull the throttle on me a couple of times just to see me pitch it over for glide speed and go through my engine out checklist). I need more of the ‘how far away is that point’ and ‘where can you make it to’ as I am still figuring out how to judge distance from the air.

About 20 minutes into the flight SOCAL called us up.

SOCAL: “Cherokee 00Uniform, climb to 6,000′. You have traffic to your right approaching, same direction.
Me: “Climbing 6,000′, 00Uniform.
SOCAL: “00Uniform, looks like he’s climbing, do you see the traffic?”
(Just then I look out the right side and see an RV about a mile off, climbing fast, and passing us fast.) 
Me: “I have the traffic in sight, ooUniform.
SOCAL: “ooUniform, return to your previous altitude.”

At this point the RV is a little ways past us, he slides over in front of us, wags his wings, and is on his way.

CFI: “Did you see that? He’s just showing off.”
Me: “Yep”
CFI: “I’m a little hurt… (In a joking tone)
Me: “Serious? You realize what we’re flying?” (A not so very fast Cherokee 140)
CFI: “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Me: “Think of it that we’re driving the old beater down the freeway and just got passed by a sports car, nothing you can do.”

We passed Temecula and he asked me to show him where we were on the map. I had been using my tablet, GPS off, just for the charts and had my flight plan on it as well. Fortunately I also had paper backups of my flight plan on my kneeboard and my TAC and Sectional in the pockets on the side of my kneeboard because right then my tablet decided it had spent too much time in the sun and shut down. No problem, I set it behind the seat and pulled out my Sectional. We went through a few more ‘you lost your engine, where could you land’ scenarios and we were quickly approaching the point of choosing to go left to Ramona or right to Palomar. (I could see both airports about 10nm away on each side.) I switched COM2 to the Ramona ATIS and wrote down the info, then asked him if I could contact SOCAL to ask for a frequency change since I had the Ramona field in sight. At that point he said, “Nope, lets divert to Palomar.” So I contacted SOCAL for the diversion and dialed up 129.15 which I thought  was the frequency for Palomr’s ATIS. The problem was that the number was right on the fold of the Sectional and hard to read. After a few seconds of nothing my CFI asked “Where did you come up with that frequency?” I took a closer look and saw my mistake, dialed up the correct frequency, got the info, contacted tower, and we were on our way straight in.

The runway there is fun, it dips a little in the middle and then slopes up if you are coming in on runway 24. Then it drops off at the end. We taxied past a P-51 (very cool) on the ramp and stopped in the run-up area to go through the plan. I had to tell him how I was going to get back to my planned route (Not difficult, just fly NE until it intersects I-15) and how much fuel I would use climbing out and getting back to my route. Having completed that I got take off clearance and we were back in the air, climbing out to the NE. It was cool seeing the coast there as we took off and made our turn.

As we were approaching I-15 I told him that it would be really hard to get lost on a clear day since you could see San Gorgonio and Mt Baldy which should be enough to get you home.

There were more ‘how far could you get and where would you land’ quizzes on the flight back. SOCAL decided they were too busy and terminated our flight following about 30nm before the end of our flight so we just monitored Lake Elsinore’s frequency in that area and the Lake Matthews practice area frequency when we got close there. We got to see a flight of 4 RV’s practicing formation flight over the lake, fun stuff. I called in to the Chino tower and they told me to enter on the left base for 26R. They were also talking to an RV that was inbound as well, and telling him where we were, but he could not see to find us. I don’t remember his tail number, we’ll just call him RV.

Tower: “RV, there is a Cherokee above you and at about your 10 o’clock, 2,300′ indicated.”
RV: “I don’t have the traffic.”
Tower: “He should be at your 9 o’clock now.”
RV: “I still don’t see him” (Turns out later we learned that we think he was probably very busy in that cockpit)
ME: “We have the RV in sight.” (We could just see him below us off our right wing.)
Tower: “RV, go ahead and make straight for 26R, cleared to land.” (He crossed underneath us)
Tower: “00Uniform, do you still have the RV in sight?”
Me: “Yes, we still see him.”
Tower: “00Uniform, you are #2 cleared to land behind the RV 26R.”
Me: “#2, cleared to land 26R.”
Tower: “RV, just don’t slow down too much on landing and clear the runway, you have a Cherokee about a mile and a half behind you on final.”

We watched him land and shortly after he touched down he REALLY slowed down quick. CFI looked at me and said “He’s going really slow” and just then:

Tower: “Cherokee 00Uniform go around.”
Me: “Going around, 00Uniform.” (Throttle in and first notch of flaps out, positive rate of climb, second notch, positive rate of climb, last notch and we were on our way.)
Tower: “00Uniform, sorry about that, his engine died. go ahead and make your right turn.”
Me: “We have a helicopter in front of us at about our 2 o’clock.” (Which I had spotted before my CFI. He had been crossing over the runway from left to right. During the flight I had managed to point out all the traffic except for one plane before him. It’s the little things that make you smile…)
Tower: “Thanks, yes follow the helicopter.”

I’m still not sure if the tower had forgotten about the helicopter in the moment of trying to make sure that we went around instead of coming down on the RV that was apparently NOT going to be clearing the runway.

We made right traffic, received our landing clearance, and we were on the ground shortly. All in all it was a great learning flight. I had my first diversion (although it was expected), landed at another airport for the first time, had my tablet fail me (always have paper backup), had flight following terminated, and was given my first go-around by the tower.

After the flight I received my endorsements in my logbook so that I can fly my solo XC next Wednesday. I can’t wait! After that I have a night flight planned with my CFI and then my long XC solo. I’m still figuring out where I want to fly to, but I’m leaning towards Camarillo and Santa Barbara. There are a couple of airports up in the desert, Lancaster and Mojave, that I want to go to but in following the weather reports the winds in the afternoon are higher than what I am signed off for. They will have to wait for a different time when I have more experience.

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