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.


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