I actually didn’t bring a photographer. My wife joined us for one leg of the flight, but she did take pictures, so I suppose that does make her a photographer.
We had kids and grandkids in town for a week, and then some of them went to Oxnard to spend some more time at the beach. My wife wanted to spend a day with them in Oxnard, but did not want to make the 2-3 hour drive each way. If you’ve never driven the freeways in Southern California, you might wonder why a trip of 100 miles could take 3 hours, but just trust me on this one. The beautiful thing is that it is only a 30-40 minute flight even when the freeways though Los Angeles resemble parking lots. I had an IFR lesson scheduled for that evening after work so I cleared the option of taking a passenger on the flight with my CFII.
The plans were set, I would drop my wife off at the train station on my way into work. She would ride the train to Oxnard and spend the day at the beach with her daughter and granddaughters. After work I would meet up with my CFII, file and fly IFR to Oxnard, pick up my wife, and file and fly IFR back to Fullerton.
Flight 18 – June 16th
It wasn’t too warm on the ground in Fullerton, only about 75° F when I was completing the pre-flight on the plane and going over the flight plan and approach plates with my CFII. For the first time ever departing Fullerton I was not given “On departure, left turn heading 120.” Tower Enroute Control, or TEC Routes, are preferred IFR routes established in certain areas where the flight does not involve ATC control higher than the approach facilities and they assist with IFR routing. The CSTP24 or Coastal Papa 24 route is the preferred route from KFUL to KOXR so that is what I filed. We finished the run-up, I configured the plane for take off and then called up Ground.
Me: “Fullerton Ground, Mooney 78878 ready to copy IFR.”
Ground: “Mooney 78878, Cleared Oxnard Airport, on departure left turn heading 230, vectors for Seal Beach, Victor 23, POPPR, radial 125 Santa Monica, Van Nuys, Direct. Maintain 2,000, expect 4,000 one-zero minutes after departure, frequency 125.35, squawk 4601.
I had written out my filed plan with spaces in between for changes to give myself less to write down, that way I could cross out fixes if needed and there was space in between to write down changes. What I ended up with on my notepad was:
R L230 vSLI V23 POPPR r125 SMO D VNY D
A 020 exp 040 10 min
For “Direct” I write a capital D with an → through it pointing to the right, the “Direct To” symbol on a GPS unit.
I read back the clearance and recieved a “Mooney 878, read back correct” from Ground along with “Are you ready to taxi?”
“Affirmative” I replied and he gave us our taxi clearance to runway 24. There was only a short delay before we were cleared to take off and once lined up on the centerline I eased the throttle all the way in and we were on our way down the runway, “we have oil pressure and airspeed is alive” I said as I glanced down to the instruments.
I told my CFII that for these two flights I was going to use the Auto-Pilot for the en route section and would turn it off and hand fly the approach. We took off on 24, made the slight turn to 230° and was handed off to SoCal Approach. We were quickly cleared from the initial 2,000′ to our filed altitude of 4,000′ and as we climbed higher so did the temperature. Due to a temperature inversion, the 75° F on the ground was 98° F at 4,000′, right at our cruising altitude. The only saving grace of the flight was that I was using the auto-pilot for the en route section. We were vectored around, skipping the VNY VOR which gave us a shortcut and found ourselves on a very long straight in final for runway 25. Once we reached the Initial Fix (IF) I turned off the auto-pilot and hand flew the approach.
As we descended down final the temperatures followed the altimeter and it was a cool 69° F on the ground. We taxied to transient, shut down, and I walked over to the gate to let my wife through. After a short discussion which included hoping it would be cooler at 5,000′ (our filed altitude for the return leg) than it was at 4,000′ we climbed in, started up, and received our IFR clearance. It was modified somewhat from what was filed, the biggest change was replacing the GINNA fix and V326 airway with “On departure, fly heading 255, vectors to VNY.” That would provide a learning moment later in the flight.
We took off on runway 25, made a slight turn to heading 255, and the Tower handed us off to Point Mugu Approach. Approach took us five miles to the west, three miles off the coast, before turning us back to the east on a heading of 090 and clearing us to 5,000′ where it was slightly cooler than 4,000′, a balmy 94° F.
Eventually we were handed off to SoCal Approach and then to the next sector for SoCal. We were still on a heading of 090, five miles to the northwest of the Van Nuys VOR, and going to track right past it and heading towards mountains higher than our altitude about 18 miles ahead. I asked my CFII if I should ask about the heading and he said to let them know we were still on a heading of 090.
Me: “Approach, Mooney 78878, we are still on a heading of 090.”
Approach: “Mooney 78878, turn right direct VNY.”
Me: “Direct VNY, 878.”
“Mugu must have forgotten to tell SoCal that you were still on vectors. When you check in with a sector give them your altitude and your heading, the next fix, or the airway you are on depending on what you are currently flying,” my CFII said.
We continued on the flight and when we were handed off to the next controller and I checked in with “SoCal Approach Mooney 78878, 5,000 on Victor 186.” He gave me the current altimeter setting and we continued on our flight. The filed flight plan (TEC Route) went to the ADAMM fix, then the Victor 394 airway around to the south of KFUL to the Seal Beach VOR, but we wanted to fly the RNAV 24 back into KFUL so I requested it on the next handoff. Instead he gave us vectors to intercept V394 and a few minutes later handed us off again to the next sector.
“SoCal Approach, Mooney 78878, descending 4,000 and would like the RNAV 24 into KFUL if possible,” I said on check in.
“Perfect, Mooney 78878, descend and maintain 3,000 fly heading 160,” was his response and he gave us a new heading to fly. I am sure he was happy to have us fly the RNAV 24 approach which keeps us out of all the airspace to the south of KFUL.
The next instruction was “Mooney 78878, three miles from LEYMI, turn right heading 220, maintain 3,000 until established, cleared RNAV 24.” At that point I disconnected the auto pilot and flew the rest of the approach by hand, pulling off the foggles as we reached the MDA (Minimum Descent Altitude) of 900′, pulling power back just a little more and easing back on the yoke to get under 100 mph IAS so that I could put in some flaps, and then settled down on the runway.
Setting aside the outside air temperature at cruising altitudes, the flights were great, included some good learning moments, and combined with them a practical use giving my wife a quick ride back from Oxnard. As a bonus, she was able to take some spectacular pictures of the sunset which I never got to enjoy as I saw nothing outside the plane from shortly after take off to shortly before landing.