Sunday, April 12, 2009

Adventures in SoCal IFR

Flying into Southern California and getting some more experience in that IFR system was another thing I was looking forward to on my trip to Disneyland. On this trip, I was flying in and out of KFUL in the LA area. I ended up having clouds on the way in which I think is fairly common this time of year, so I was glad to be prepared for IFR.

Somewhere new is always different and SoCal approach is also very busy. I am used to talking with Denver Approach frequently, so I think this helps. But there are more frequency handoffs and the way they change clearances is a bit different. Denver is a smaller area so Denver Approach tends to just do clearance reroutes to VORs and lots of vectoring. When I flew into Phoenix on the return segment, Phoenix seemed similar to Denver.

On this flight to KFUL, I had a lot more clearance changes than my last flight with SoCal Approach to KCRQ. I will describe what happened to me going to KFUL to remind myself in the future and let other people know as well.

Getting the Clearance

When getting my clearance at KIFP, it was a little different. They wanted me to taxi to the runway, do my runup, and then ask for the clearance so I was within 5 minutes of takeoff. This is not what I have had to do for towered airports in the past, but they indicated this was due to no radar at KIFP. After asking for a clearance, I then had to wait for 15 minutes or more. It seems I could have asked before I started to taxi and it would have worked out better. Oh well, you got to make the tower happy when you can.

I asked in my flight plan for Kifp-eed-tnp-psp-v388-pdz-kful and they gave me this initially. This was a nice direct route. Click the map below for more detail. I put these maps images together using

SoCal initial

1st Reroute with LA Center

Then LA Center changed it to Kifp-eed-tnp-psp-v388-v283-sli-kful. They described this as a reroute at PDZ VOR, so it took me a while to find the intersection of V388 and V283 which is before PDZ. Also, my G430W did not seem to accept ACINS intercection in my flight plan after PDZ. Maybe user error? Later, when I figured out where it was, ACINS went into the G430W flight plan fine. The route is starting to get a little round about now.

SoCal 1st reroute

2nd Reroute with SoCal Approach

Now I was with SoCal approach approaching PDZ VOR. The handoffs were coming pretty frequent. They changed the clearance to V388-PDZ-fly the 270 degree radial off of PDZ to V394-sli-kful.

They asked if I would like the Localizer approach to KFUL and I indicated yes on that one. That would be a much straighter approach. The controller said he would put the request in, but it would be 3 more handoffs before I would get it. I heard from somebody later at KFUL, that it is good to put the request in if they do not ask. SoCal approach will do their best to help you out there.

The route is starting to get a little strange now. See the map below.

SoCal 2nd reroute

Final Routing

But in the end, while I was on the 270 degree radial, they gave me the localizer approach which was almost a straight shot. So in the end, they gave me a very nice path, but there was a lot to think about and a lot of radio handoffs and clearance changes.

SoCal final path


Be on your toes in SoCal Approach airspace, and be ready for lots of handoffs and reroutes. If your reroute takes you in a strange pattern, that does not mean you will end up going that way. And ask for the approach you want even if they don't hand it to you; they are willing to work with you.

My wife is a pilot too, so it was nice to hand the aircraft to her at times so I could figure out the reroutes. 2 pilots are better than 1 in a busy airspace.

In general, it was a great experience and SoCal Approach was nice to work with.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Disneyland Flying Trip Report

Just got back from a great flying trip to Disneyland while taking great pictures along the way. This is the trip I described in my previous Disneyland Flying Trip planning blog post. It was spring break time, my son had not been to Disneyland, and the route has a great path over many beautiful spots to photograph (Canyonlands, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, etc).

Grand Canyon Aerial

The Trip From Longmont, Colorado to Anaheim, California

On the way out, the weather was beautiful. It has snowed a foot 2 days earlier and cleared up just in time for our trip.

The Initial Path

The direct route worked perfect. We flew klmo-allan-rlg-kege-kril-jnc-kpga (A fuel stop in KPGA), and then flew approximately kpga-kifp with diversions around the Grand Canyon corridors. We stayed the night in KIFP. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel since it has some kid friendly stuff, a good hotel price, and a free shuttle.

Grand Canyon Paths

For the Grand Canyon diversions from Page, AZ, I first went along the north side to gain altitude, then to north side of the Zuni Point Corridor (36°17.38'N 111°51.04'W) then to the north side of Dragon Corridor (36°19.11'N 112°06.60'W) then through the Dragon Corridor to the south point (36°01.00'N 112°15.51'W), then towards KIFP. All these points are on the Grand Canyon VFR chart. To view the Grand Canyon VFR chart click here at for KGCN at and then the Grand Canyon VFR button afterwards.

Rest of the Way

I changed the KIFP-KFUL a little from my initial plan. I initially filed and received kifp-eed-tnp-psp-v388-pdz-kful. SoCal Approach changed the clearance a number of times, but I effectively flew that same path. I might discuss that sequence in events in another post.

Using a SPOT Satellite Messager in tracking mode, I tracked my flight path and put it together below. This is a very cool service and I will talk about it more in another post. Click on the image for better detail of the path.

KLMO-KFUL short route

We used Aviation Facilities Inc (AFI) at KFUL for fuel and tie downs. Tie downs were free, and they filled up my tanks at the self-serve price as long as I pulled up to the pumps. Everybody was very friendly, and the owner even talked with me for a bit.

Good Times in California

Disneyland was great as expected.

Disneyland entrance

The fireworks were very impressive every night. It is amazing that they put on this show which is better than many if not most 4th of July fireworks every night. Inside Disneyland it is done nicely to music and shoots off right behind the castle.

Disneyland fireworks

We ended up staying at the Ramada Main Gate and ended up in a premium room for a little more. It had a nice bed, included a continental breakfast, nice pool, and the fireworks great from the 3rd floor. Only bad part was the TV reception was bad; it was a nice flat panel TV, but had a bad cable box. We ended up eating in Disneyland, Anaheim Garden Walk area, and Saga Pizza which was on the hotel grounds. Anaheim Garden Walk was a nice find that was within easy walking distance. It is a nice new outdoor 3-story mall area with restaurants and movies. Disneyland was an easy walk from the hotel; no complaints from my 7-year old.

We went and visited some of the beaches after getting our fill of Disneyland, California Adventure, and the pool at the hotel. As planned we rented a car for 2 days from Enterprise; they picked us up at the hotel so it was pretty painless. One of my favorite things we found was Corina Del Mar. It is a beautiful beach area surround by pretty cliffs near Newport Beach.

Corina Del Mar

The Route Back to Longmont, Colorado

Lots of snow in the Colorado mountains, northern Arizona, and northern New Mexico changed our planned route back. We wanted to go part of the way, so we ended up with a southern route through Phoenix with a fuel stop to Albuquerque which was at the south end of the storm area. The next day we got around, under some clouds, and a short bit of IFR back to Longmont.

KFUL-KLMO long route

Path to Phoenix

We filed IFR out of KFUL. I requested: kful-sli-pdz-v388-psp-v16-pxr-kffz, but got kful-sli-v64-blh-v16-pxr-kffz. Not too bad a change. I was a little surprised at how Phoenix approach routed us way around the city to get to KFFZ.

I selected KFFZ for three reasons: It was good for the southern route I wanted, it had cheaper fuel, and there were reports of a good restaurant on the field. The reports on the restaurant were true. Ansio Landing is an awesome Italian restaurant. It is a great restaurant that you would expect in a nice part of downtown and not sitting on an airfield. Definitely not the typical greasy spoon. Check out the menu...

To Albuquerque

The next path was pretty especially the early parts just northeast of Phoenix. It looks very pretty with a canyon and a lake in the middle that I have never heard about. We need to go back there and see it from the ground. We reserved a $23/day Enterprise car rental in ABQ, but did not end up using it. We just used the shuttle to the Fairfield Inn which was a very nice place to stay; Cutter Aviation set us up with a nice rate and helped a lot with picking it out.

To Home

It looked like we could possible do kabq-saf-05v-4v1-kcos-klmo in the morning, but ended up having to switch to kabq-fti-fogle-pub-klmo due to the mountains and La Veta pass clouded in. We ended up with a short bit of IFR south of Denver to home.

Trip Highlights

  • Disneyland at an age where my son can ride everything but everything is still magical
  • Fireworks every night at Disneyland in the park or from the hotel
  • Flying over Grand Canyon
  • Beautiful area to check again north east of Phoenix
  • Ansio Landing which is a great restaurant at KFFZ
  • More time in the IFR system in the busy SoCal area


This was an excellent trip that I would recommend to others! It was a great mix of everything. A fun flight out, a fun time in California, and a chance to get my mind off of work.