Montgomery Field to Ontario

May 12, 2002

2.3 hours

Today's flight is a trip to visit my brother in Ontario. This is also my first cross country flight in a Piper Cadet. I used N9199Z for this flight. This plane is very similar to the Archer (N2903A) that I like, but it's $7/hour cheaper. The only thing I really don't like on this plane as compared to the Archer is that there is no baggage door, which means that when I need to tow the plane, I have to reach behind the back seat to get the towbar.

At just over an hour, the trip to Ontario is well within the range of this plane, so I didn't bother creating a full flight plan. I also expected to get cleared through Miramar's airspace and have found that I never use my flight plan when I get that clearance. Instead, I just planned on flying to the Paradise VOR just south of Ontario and go directly to the airport from there. (I did still file a flight plan stating my intentions, I just didn't calculate the wind and the exact time and fuel it would take for me to get there.)

Before I took off, I asked the tower to hand me off for flight following. As I turned for the downwind leg, the tower approved my frequency change and by the time I was midfield downwind, I had been cleared through Miramar's airspace, so I turned and headed direct to the Paradise VOR. I wasn't able to receive Paradise's signal yet, so I used the GPS to get the heading until I picked up Paradise.

As I neared Oceanside, I noticed a smoke trail and got a couple of pictures (Click on each picture for a bigger version.):

(Once I got back home, I found out that there was a small fire in Oceanside that started about an hour before I flew over.)

Then I ran into a problem that stemmed from not doing enough preflight planning. SoCal suddenly warned me that I was half a mile from the Camp Pendleton's restricted airspace. I immediately turned to the east (plainly visible on the map above) and flew that way until the controller told me I was clear. I then turned and headed for Paradise again. Fortunately there wasn't much other traffic in the sky, so the controllers had time to notify me before I flew into the restricted space. Had things been a little busier, I may have gotten in trouble!

As I got closer to my destination, I flew over what looks to be an exclusive mountaintop community with a single winding road providing access.

Shortly thereafter, I passed by Chino airport:

I ended up over Paradise at 7,500 feet and was told that I was cleared to land at Ontario which is at 940 feet. I replied and told them it was okay and began a rapid descent. As you can see from the map, I tried to do an extended downwind to lose altitude so I'd be able to land without having to go around. While I was trying to get down, I snapped a picture of the approach end of the airport. The area to the bottom right of the runway is the UPS ramp:

Unfortunately, the tower was trying to get me down quickly as there was a 737 coming in behind me for the parallel runway. I descended with all the speed I felt comfortable with and did make it down without causing any problems for the tower or the other plane.

Once on the ground, I taxied over to Mercury Air Center and called my brother to meet me. Mercury was also not busy at all. I was the only person there until my brother and one of his roommates showed up, which ended up taking a while because Mercury is on the other side of the airport from the main terminal and is hidden at the back of what appear to be industrial buildings. The people at Mercury were nice and let me take my brother and his friend out to show them the plane and after we hung out and chatted for an hour or so, he also let them watch me takeoff from outside. As I sat in the runup aread, I got a picture of the UPS ramp from the ground:

I then got cleared to taxi onto the runway and wait for the plane in front of me to get out of the way:

As I passed by Mercury after takeoff, I looked to see if my brother was still there. I couldn't see him, but I rocked my wings anyway and wasn't sure if he'd be able to tell that's what I was doing from the ground. (I later found out that he did stay and did see me rock the wings.)

Again I headed towards Paradise to begin with. I was worried that it might get dark before I arrived back home, so I decided to fly along the coast to get home. I knew I didn't have to worry about any high terrain that way and I have flown that route at night before. Along the way, I passed a small river with nice green surroundings:

As I travelled down the coast, I heard SoCal approach the quietest I'd ever hear it. There was a period of almost 10 minutes where I didn't hear any other traffic on the radio. Once I reached the coast and turned towards the Oceanside VOR, I saw a huge new housing development under construction:

After I passed Oceanside, I turned towards the Mission Bay VOR and arrived there just as the sun was setting:

I then landed just as it got dark enough to require me to turn on the lights. I taxied back to parking and ended up flight.

Lessons learned:

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Last modified June 9, 2002.
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