Flight Training - June 2015 - 22

FLYING CARPET

By Greg Brown

PLUS View the slideshow.

CALIFORNIA'S OCEANSIDE MUNICIPAL
AIRPORT (lower left) lies just up the San
Luis Rey River from its namesake town, beach,
and pier.

SANTA ANA WINDS

THE PRICE OF ADVENTURE

L

et's face it, piloting isn't for everyone. Flying is as much about
adventure as it is about transportation. Jean and I could drive
to Southern California for our annual seaside vacation, as others do. Yes, it's a dull eight-hour trek that requires negotiating
miles of maddening traffic. But little planning and few decisions are
required-just hop in the car, and go.
By Flying Carpet, the same journey
takes just two hours and delivers us three
miles from the beach. Along the way are
spectacular views of mountains, desert,
and the Colorado River. Sounds impressive to the uninitiated, but flying demands
planning, research, and sometimes stress.
We pilots see such challenges as the price
of adventure-overcoming obstacles
for the rewards of stunning sights and
completing our "missions." But for others
less suited to piloting, such trials seem
troublesome travel complications.
This would be our second flight into
Oceanside Municipal Airport for our
"beach fix" with friends Tim and Hedy
Thomas. It's a delightful airport, but not
without challenges: a short, obstructed
runway and noise-abatement procedures
that demand preflight study. Those I'd
mastered last visit. This year's travel was
constrained because our hosts could

22 /

FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

accommodate us for only two specific
days. Every pilot knows the challenges
of trying to meet an inflexible schedule.
Fortunately, this route normally features
benign flying weather, so I wasn't too worried about it.
As the day approached, the Southwest
enjoyed record winter temperatures: Flagstaff in the 60s and Oceanside in the 80s.
The cause was a powerful weather system
generating easterly Santa Ana winds. I
knew the effects of the Santa Anas but
had never flown in them. Yes, 25-knot
tailwinds would speed us on our way. But
Oceanside is just 30 miles downwind of
California's rugged coastal mountains,
raising concerns of mountain wave

stretching out to sea, moderate to severe
turbulence, and low-level wind shear at
our destination.
On departure morning, Oceanside
reported calm conditions, but nearby
Carlsbad showed northeasterly winds
gusting to 21 knots. "Ridge-level" 3,000foot winds were forecast at 30 to 35 knots.
Most alarming, Hedy texted road alerts
for 70- to 80-mph winds funneling though
California's mountain passes. I phoned
seasoned San Diego flight instructor Barry
Knuttila for advice.
"You know how the eastern slopes of
the coastal range rise near vertically from
the Mojave Desert?" he said. "Picture
wind surging up those slopes like surf
over rocks on a beach, and then tumbling
over the downwind coastal side like a
waterfall." Barry recommended crossing
the 7,000-foot coastal mountains at 10,500
feet to top the worst of the turbulence.
"It may still be a rough ride," he added.
"Don't descend until reaching the shoreline, and be prepared to divert if pilot or
surface reports suggest hazardous wind
shear or turbulence." I'd already planned
larger, more open Carlsbad Airport as my
alternate. And the Flying Carpet carried adequate fuel to divert back east of
the mountains if necessary. Although

"PICTURE WIND SURGING UP THOSE SLOPES
LIKE SURF OVER ROCKS ON A BEACH, AND THEN
TUMBLING OVER THE DOWNWIND COASTAL
SIDE LIKE A WATERFALL."


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Flight Training - June 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - June 2015

Contents
Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover1
Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover2
Flight Training - June 2015 - Contents
Flight Training - June 2015 - 2
Flight Training - June 2015 - 3
Flight Training - June 2015 - 4
Flight Training - June 2015 - 5
Flight Training - June 2015 - 6
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Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover3
Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover4
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