Lesson 28 - Wednesday May 5th

Flying to Van Nuys

I finally get to fly to another airport!   Very nice weather today, 10 mile visibility, and fairly light winds in the right direction.  So we are heading to Van Nuys (VNY)

We discuss the flight, fairly simple, just a right downwind departure, and fly at 2500 up the 405, and returning at the same altitude to avoid the Burbank class C airspace.  Simpler than I though (as I was expecting we'd have to go through the class C at lease on one leg).

So we take off, climbing, and turn right at the shoreline, we continue climbing, and head inland.  The whole picture suddenly looked very different as I'm flying somewhere that I've never been.

We head over to the 405, and request a frequency change from SMO, they give us a "good-day", and we get the VNY ATIS (weather report), and then tune to VNY tower. 

Now I'm rather brain frozen here, as I'm so used to calling SMO (Santa Monica), that I have to really think about what I'm going to say, and eventually get out "Van Nuys tower, Cherokee 8148H, inbound, at the Sepulveda Pass, with Zulu"

They reply with a rather longer spiel than normal, which includes "left traffic, runway 16 Left, report abeam".

Now Van Nuys has two parallel runways, which makes operation there a bit more complex than Santa Monica (which just has one).  Plus there is a lot more traffic, specifically jet traffic landing on the longer Runway 16R.

So, we head in, straight for the downwind leg, paralleling the runway.  As we get closer tower calls us and tells me I should be at 1800 feet, not 2000, and I should be over the freeway (I'm too close to the runway).  Oops,  I'd looked at the wrong number, 2000 was for 16R.

Nobody else is landing on 16L, indeed it seems a very quiet day at VNY.  So we make a fairly regular descent.  When we turn final, you've got to be really careful you don't wander into the path of traffic landing on 16R

Adding to the complications, runway 16L is only 4000 feet long, and the first 1500 feet of it is not for landing (there's a "displaced threshold"), so you've got to land in about 2500 feet, half the length of the SMO runway.   From the air this seems really short!

We struggle down,  I make a rather bad landing, as I keep getting distracted, and looking at the wrong point on the runway, and let the speed get messed up.  It's also blustery, and I have a really hard time keeping the plane lined up with the rudder.   But we got down, and touch and go up again.

We do three touch-and-go landings, and then head straight out, back over the Sepulveda pass, for a right base entry back into SMO.  Another thing that is new to me.   Lovely day though, excellent views all over the LA basin, as well as the valley, and over to Burbank.  The trip is very short, seems less than ten minutes.  Amazing how travel is shorter when moving at 110MPH in a straight line.

My landing back at SMO is not perfect either.  But I really enjoyed the flight, it was the most varied and interesting flight I'd done so far.

On Friday we should be going down to Palos Verdes, and heading through the Special Flight Rules area, directly over the top of LAX!




(c) 2004 Mick West