Brief the Approach

Last Sunday’s flight was a real workout including holding patterns, DME arcs an approach to Tracy (KTCY) and Los Banos (KLSN).  The biggest lesson of the day was to brief the approach before flying the approach.  Martin was playing the role of air traffic control while I was under the hood.  After vectoring out of San Carlos, he had me cross TRACY intersection at 3,500′ and proceed direct OMWAP for the RNAV (GPS) Rwy 26 approach. Continue reading

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Peanuts Approach

November 96988 proceed direct Woodstock, cleared RNAV GPS Runway 32 approach.

No, we weren’t flying in upstate New York, we were flying into the Charles M. Shulz airport (KSTS) in Santa Rosa, California.  Let me take you back to last night when I got a text message from my flight instructor suggesting we plan a trip up to Santa Rosa to practice some enroute work and new approaches.  As I was reviewing the available procedures, I was delighted to see the many references to Peanuts characters in the waypoints.  In March of 2000, the Sonoma County Airport was renamed after long time resident and comic strip artist Charles M. Shulz.  The fine folks at the FAA have obviously gotten behind the idea by naming several waypoints after some of my favorite Peanuts characters.  More on that in just a bit. Continue reading

IFR – KSQL to KSNS

After passing my Instrument Rating Airman Knowledge Test last May, I began working through the flight training over the summer.  Unfortunately work and life just got in the way but I have recently picked up the training again and will hopefully be able to complete the complete certification this time around.

I had a training flight scheduled with my instructor, Martin Michaud, this past Friday which happened to coincide with the arrival of an arctic storm system blowing into the bay area.  As I was watching the weather come in, I pretty much gave up hope on making our flight.  The way things were trending, it looked as if the icing layer would be dropping down to 4,000′ MSL.

On Thursday evening I was going over the weather for a planned flight to Stockton (KSCK) and, based on the AIRMETs available at the time, it appeared that the icing layer would be down to 5,000′ MSL for our area, actually for a significant portion of the western U.S.  Ceilings were forecast to be in the 2,000′ to 3,000′ range which would be more than adequate but winds in the Stockton area were forecast to be 12 knots gusting to 20 which would make approaches difficult for a fairly green IFR student.

I got on the phone with Martin to discuss the forecast mentioning my findings.  When we discussed the icing forecast, he directed me to the Aviation Weather Service’s Advanced Digital Data Service icing forecast. The graphical forecast closest to our time of departure had the icing layer between 9,000′ and 10,000′ which would be well above our altitude.  The winds at KSCK were an issue so we looked at Salinas (KSNS) which had more favorable winds (i.e. no significant gusts forecast).  After discussing the weather and route a little further we decided to check back in before I left for the airport in the morning.  If the forecast held with no significant changes we would make the trip. Continue reading