Michael's IFR 250
It would be easy to remember the IFR X Country experience as a collection of "Altitudes" and "Whats next" reverberating in my headset, but in actuality it was much more than that. It was a wholly satisfying experience.
The most important element of the experience was the pre planning which went into it. It took much much longer than I anticipated and consumed a solid 7 hours of time and concentration, but it set the foundation for the success of that day.
Going through the various tools left me with many options, but I ultimately choose the FLT.PLN model to execute my preplanning. I set about and constructed all of the elements for 3 distinct trips which made up the legs of the 250 mile trip. Santa Maria, Van Nuys, back to Torrance the long way.
The morning of the trip I met Merriam at 8:30 and we both decided that we had all of the relevant information and that the planning was sufficient to make the trip. Almost immediately, the hours of planning paid off as ATC continually made changes and alterations to the clearance. I was able to keep up with the changes due to the fact that I had painstakingly gone over each route in detail and had become with all of the fixes along the way. It was almost anti climatic when Santa Maria Tower cleared us for the Backcourse LOC Approach and we touched down within 2 minutes of the pre plan estimate.
Leaving Santa Maria for Van Nuys, ATC/Center again made radical changes to our plan, but we were able to reason that they were trying to get us from point A to Point B quicker. Flying the VOR Approach into Van Nuys was cool and we soon found ourselves on the ground taxing back to the run up area to pick up our Clearance to TOA. Again, the Clearance was altered when in the air, but the finale was an ILS with Circle to Land 11 RWY at TOA. Probably the toughest "read back" of the day, due to its length and the fact it was different then what we done before.
Landing and tying down the airplane brought a quiet satisfaction. It is very rewarding to accurately plan and execute and think your way through a long day of IFR.
It was only possible because of the patience of Merriam and the fact that we have an environment (PSA), which does it the "right way".
What a great experience. Whats NEXT!