A Sunday Afternoon

My last flight was a week ago, just over to Riverside to get some fuel and some time in the air. My wonderful wife was game to come along even though it would just be about 15 minutes each way. It was late afternoon, the air was smooth, and westbound…

Written by
Richard Brown
Published on
27 Dec 2020

My last flight was a week ago, just over to Riverside to get some fuel and some time in the air. My wonderful wife was game to come along even though it would just be about 15 minutes each way. It was late afternoon, the air was smooth, and westbound on the way back to Fullerton the late afternoon sun cast a beautiful golden glow off the ocean, highlighting the huge container ships outside the Port of Long Beach.

Today after church in the morning (at home) my oldest son and I headed down to the airport. I had no destination in mind, I just wanted to fly. After pre-flighting the plane as I was pulling it out of the hangar he said “Isn’t this crazy, you can just go down to the airport whenever you want and go flying in your own plane?” I just shook my head with a smile on my face and told him I still have a hard time believing it.

We closed up the hangar and climbed in the plane. By this point I had put together a flight plan in my mind. I wanted to accomplish two things on this flight. First, I wanted to give him a chance to get some more time flying the plane. Second, I wanted to get in a landing with take-off flaps (15°) set instead of the usual full flaps (33°) that I land with. Under normal conditions I always land with full flaps which provides better visibility over the nose and a slower stall speed. However, if there is a strong crosswind landing with take-off flaps and a higher stall speed gives more rudder authority.

We started up and taxied to the run-up area. While we were waiting for the engine to warm up I went over the plan with him. We would take off and head to the east to the Lake Matthews practice area. Once we had made the turn to the east I would give him control of the plane and have him climb us up to about 3,000′. Over Lake Matthews he could do some maneuvering and then fly us towards Chino and it’s nice long runways at which point I would take control of the plane back. We would be landing with take-off flaps so instead of a full stop taxi back we would just do a touch and go, then head straight out to the west and back to Fullerton.

After completing the run-up and the pre-takeoff checklist I called up ground and we taxied to runway 24 where we waited for the helicopter on short final before the tower cleared us for a left downwind departure.

On the downwind I gave Austin control and he climbed us up, leveled us off, and took us eastward. There were a couple planes working the lake at 3,000′ and below so I had him climb us to 4,000′ and we stayed to the west of the lake. He took us through some turns and did a good job holding altitude. After one final turn I had him point us north and begin a descent. We were going down, but we needed to get below Ontario’s 2,700′ shelf, and soon.

“You’re going to have to get down faster.” (As I pulled the throttle back a little more)

He pushed the nose over a little more, but not enough yet.

Me: “We need to be below 2,700′ before we get to the freeway up there.”
Austin: “How much faster can I go down?”
Me: “Here, let me take the plane.”

I pushed the nose over more and the altimeter started winding down as the airspeed wound up.

“The only limit we have is the airspeed, our max is 189. We can control our airspeed with our pitch so as it climbs we pull back some to keep it from going higher.”

I kept us in the descent with the indicated airspeed between 180-185 and leveled off at 2,300′ just before reaching the 2,700′ shelf of Ontario’s airspace. Having already obtained the ATIS for Chino while Austin was flying around I called up the tower.

Me: “Chino tower, Mooney 78878, two thousand four hundred over the ninety-one fifteen inbound with Lima, looking for a touch and go.” (I wanted to mention the touch and go because with parallel runways it would let him know I wasn’t stopping and likely put me on 26L. )
Tower: “Mooney 78878, Chino Tower, continue VFR descent at or below two thousand, enter a left base, two-six left.”
Me: “At or below two thousand, left base for two-six left, 878.”

We continued our descent down to 1,800′ and followed the 15 freeway to the north which put us on an extended left base leg.

Tower: “Mooney 878, runway two-six left, cleared for the option, did you want to stay in the pattern or are you just going to depart?”
Me: “Two-six left, cleared for the option, and we’re just going to depart straight out to the west.”
Tower: “Roger on the go straight out is approved.”
Me: “On the go straight out approved, 878.

After touching down and making sure we were tracking right down the centerline I eased the throttle back in and we were back in the air climbing out to the west.

Just before calling up Fullerton Tower a Cessna reported inbound over the Brea Pass. We called up inbound from the water treatment plant and were told to make straight in for runway 24. My initial thought was that the tower was going to sequence us behind the Cessna but we were told to keep our speed up for the Cessna and that we would be number one for landing. We watched the Cessna pass off our right wing a couple miles off and continued on without pulling any power until about four and a half mile final, at which point I leveled off and pulled power to get down to gear speed.

By the time the speed had bled off to 120 mph and I could drop the gear we had gone from below glideslope to four whites on the PAPI and high above glideslope. One of the tools for losing altitude without adding speed is the forward slip so I pulled power, put in full left rudder, right aileron, and we started down like an elevator at 1,800 feet per minute without adding any airspeed.

In short order we went from four whites on the PAPI to three whites and a red, and then as it shifted to two whites and two red I let go of the forward slip, added back in some throttle, and we were coming right down glideslope on short final. We exited the runway at taxiway Delta, just 1,140′ down the runway and were well on our way taxiing back with the Cessna that was behind us still on short final.

What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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