Wherever you fly, you’ll likely find there’s local weather knowledge that’s important to pilots that may be unknown to pilots from other areas. In the Los Angeles basin, Santa Ana winds and the marine layer (aka June Gloom) are two biggies.
Santa Ana winds are dry strong offshore winds that effect Southern California mostly in the Fall and Winter, but can happen any time of the year. As a perfect example, we’re here in the beginning of May and getting a classic (and dangerous) Santa Ana wind event. Continue reading
Missed approach after a PAR
Recently, I did something I’ve never done before. One of my instrument students and I did a PAR (Precision Approach Radar) approach. If you’re a pilot and never heard of that, don’t despair. It appears PAR approaches are very rare these days, and (to the best of my knowledge) now only available at military bases with the right personnel and equipment. There’s no approach plate, so you wouldn’t have seen it when browsing approaches. Continue reading
Sometimes you have to be flexible if you want to fly a small plane. Today was one of those days. Even though we didn’t go where we had planned, we still had a great Easter Brunch
Many friends have asked me my thoughts on the tower closures caused by the sequestration and whether it will impact me. As in most things aviation related, much of what you read online, see in papers, or watch on TV is, at best, poorly informed and in many cases, flat wrong. Continue reading
Left downwind runway 24 at Cable
For pilots training out of El Monte, most of your experience will be with towered airports. Pilots need to be comfortable with operating at non-towered airports though, so the first non-towered airport my primary students normally visit is Cable Airport. Cable is a privately owned airport, but open to the public – it’s been owned by the Cable family since it was opened in 1945. There’s a restaurant on the field and they hold a great air show every year in January. Continue reading
A common question is whether little airplanes flown by private pilots can land at large airports like LAX. The short answer is a qualified “yes”. The largest airports in the US are known as Class B or Bravo airports; examples include Los Angeles International (LAX), McCarren International (LAS), San Diego International (SAN), and San Francisco International (SFO). I’ve personally flown into two, LAS and SAN, and there’s a number of things you should do before attempting to fly into one of these airports. Continue reading
There’s a maneuver that I practice regularly and force even my private pilot students to practice, even thought it is not a required maneuver for them. It goes by a number of names. In the commercial PTS, it is called a “power off 180 degree accuracy approach and landing”, some people also call it a simulated engine out landing. Whatever you call it, the goal is simple – to ensure that pilots have the ability to safely and accurately land a plane without power. It’s a maneuver that you will rarely or ever need, but when you do, it could be a lifesaver to be proficient. Continue reading
The Practical Test Standard for private pilots specifies for normal and crosswind approach and landings:
Touches down within the available runway or water landing
area, within 400 feet beyond a specified point with no drift,
and with the airplane’s longitudinal axis aligned with and
over the runway center/landing path.
The distance requirement for a forward slip to landing is the same, but for short field landings, the distance is only 200 feet. To get an idea of that distance, you could find the length of a runway and estimate, or load up the area in Google Earth (or similar tools) and draw a 400 foot line. Try to then find a reference point.
At El Monte Airport, that means that when using Runway 19, the midpoint of taxiway charlie (C) is about 400 from the landing threshold. I’ve generally found that examiners give a little leeway on these distances, but no leeway in landing prior to the landing threshold.
If you don’t feel confident of making the necessary touchdown point, a go around is recommended (and heck, that’s a required maneuver on the checkride too).
This video of a Cessna and an SUV colliding near an airport in the Dallas-Ft Worth suburbs should reinforce a number of lessons to both pilots and drivers near airport runways.
Any skill you want to create and maintain takes practice. Pilots have many such skills. One of the often neglected skills is gusty and cross-wind landings. In Southern California, we just don’t get that many chances to practice in windy conditions. Continue reading