Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Van Nuys IS Nice


We had a quick day trip to Van Nuys a few weeks ago. This is the entry post that clicks me onto the ramp. I have a small electronic key that buzzes me through the gate.


Good morning, Gladys! Let’s go fly!


This airport was one busy place this morning! While waiting for my passengers, I got to watch all sorts of airplanes land and takeoff. Not always in that order.

This little pretty is a Mooney, which is known for its speed despite its small size. I wouldn’t mind owning a Mooney someday. They are often referred to as the Porsche of general aviation. You can always tell it’s a Mooney because the tail leans forward instead of backwards. Can you see it?


I stood close to the runway to take shots of arriving airplanes. Gladys looked so far away! This is our normal staging spot to leave our home hangar. We have really enjoyed being based here and are treated so well!


Well, hello, Big Guy. The Citation X was the fastest and the best for many years. Citation inspired all of the other airplane manufacturers to up their game and create something better. Now they are all competing for fastest and best airplane. And there is even a new Ten coming out to stay in the game.

Competition is a good thing. It makes people do their best!


This beautiful Falcon 7X is based in the same hangar as us. He is massive and can fly over twelve hours without having to refuel. That’s just crazy but cool, all at once! They do non-stop to Rio de Janeiro all the time. I can’t even imagine…


If we’re being really honest here, this is my dream plane that we would own as a family someday. I love Cirrus. Well-built, beautiful, fast, and they can even come made with an emergency parachute big enough to hold the entire airplane!

But they are rather expensive, so I don’t know if this could ever really happen. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for fun, just in case.


This Citation Caravan on floats disappears to Alaska every summer to do cargo runs up there. In the winter, he returns to Phoenix and flies tourist flights to local reservoirs. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I think they even get to eat lunch while floating along on the lake.

Float planes do indeed have their advantages. If I was surrounded by water in Gladys, the last thing that I would be thinking about was enjoying a PB&J sandwich.


They even had some Navy guys stay the night and depart this morning. This is a McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk. Isn’t it pretty? Believe me…it is also very loud! But most military airplanes are, which is what makes them so neat.


Even this little McDonnell Douglas helicopter landed today, which is used by lots of police departments throughout the nation. This airport was certainly hopping this morning. Once this guy was past us, we were cleared for takeoff, Runway 21.


And we’re off! Back to California we go for some business meetings for the day!


I absolutely love the avionics in this airplane. Did you know that it blinks at us when a turn is coming up? You can see that we are in “GPS” mode, which means that we have selected the “NAV” button to let Gladys fly us from point to point. After doing this, we don’t have to manually tell her to go to the next point. Gladys is just smart and wonderful and does it on her own. But she still flashes a little advisory bar above to let us know what she’s doing.

Smart and pretty? I really love this airplane!


As always, there is plenty of desert to enjoy on this flight from the Valley of the Sun to the Valley of the Smog.


We were assigned the LYNXX 8 Arrival into Van Nuys, like usual. It’s such a busy airspace that they have to line up all of the arriving airplanes to make sure that everyone stays safe.


This is our checklist. I am in the process of making a quick-reference version of it so we don’t have to have this giant out for every phase of flight. It’s big and heavy and cumbersome. I would much rather have a little laminated checklist hanging from my control yoke!


We passed rather close to Bullhead City today. My roommate from college in North Dakota, eh? is a lawyer down there. Hi, Maria!


I thought that this was so cool! I’ve never seen anything like it! You can see the contrails from passing airplanes up above. But then, down below, are the shadows for the very same contrails! I just thought that it looked neat.


Once we were cleared for the approach, we activated the vector-to-final leg on Gladys’ FMS. After doing so, this giant map of the approach came up on the screen. So nice! Can you see our airplane about to intercept the final course?


California is beautiful from the sky.


And there is a Van Nuys Airport somewhere in all of this haze! Where are you, Vanny?


We must have found the airport eventually, because here we are taxiing to the ramp. We got to follow this cute little Cessna the entire length of the airport. We landed on 16R, and Pentastar Aviation is near the approach end of the runway. I like long taxis since I get to look around.


And there was plenty to see on today’s taxi! Like this L-39 for sale. I’ve flown a few flights in one of these! It was pretty awesome, but I am not a huge fan of aerobatics when I can’t get enough cold air moving over me to be comfortable. What a wimp.

At least we all know that I could have never hacked it as a fighter pilot. I’m thinking more tanker or cargo would be along my lines of preference.


Hi, Van Nuys Tower! These controllers are always so nice to us. Actually, most controllers are just wonderful. Occasionally, you run into one who is having a bad day and is taking it out on the pilots. For the most part, I have nothing but nice things to say about our Air Traffic Control system!


All of these gorgeous North American T-6 Texans were lining our taxiway today. Aren’t they incredible?! I love World War II-era airplanes. This was often the very first airplane that potential military pilots got to fly, since it was an initial trainer.


This is the Glide Slope Box, which houses half of the electronic information needed to fly an Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach to a runway. This box sends out a radio signal to an airplane with the properly-tuned frequency to let them know if they are high or low according to the glide slope path to the runway. Basically, it guides us down vertically to ensure a safe landing.

The other half of the ILS, the Localizer, is located on the far end of a runway and sends out radio signals as well. The Localizer helps with horizontal guidance and makes sure that we are lined up properly for the runway.

When you combine vertical and horizontal guidance, you can use these radio frequencies to find runways that are obscured by bad weather. This is what pilots use to land when you can’t see outside! Recently, GPS has also become a huge player in landing at hard-to-see runways as well. We have both on board and use them simultaneously.


Soon we were on the Pentastar Aviation ramp. We always love coming here and do it quite a bit!


Parked in the number-one spot to leave is a Citation CJ4. We were considering this and the Phenom 300 when buying an airplane this past winter. Although the CJ4 is beautiful and spacious, I’m really happy that that we went with Gladys.


They are actually the same size, but Gladys sits a lot higher from the ground. Which makes her look a lot bigger than the CJ4. And bigger is always better when airplanes are involved!


This little pressurized turboprop is quite the work horse. It has jet engines moving the propeller blades, so you get the efficiency of props but the speed and altitude of a jet. The Cessna 425 is a great little cargo airplane, too.


We hit every bug from Arizona to California today, so I had the line guys wash the windscreen. It’s a lot easier to see other airplanes when you aren’t wondering if it is just a bug on the screen!


I don’t know if you know this, but having winglets automatically kicks up your cool-factor a few notches. And Gladys has winglets.


After a quick lunch and just a few hours on the ramp, it was time to load up and come home. Here we are waiting for IFR release as we hold short of Runway 16R for takeoff. Can you see the firefighting airplanes and helicopters in the distance? So cool. Those things are all ancient but are still used to put out fires all over the country!


This little Cessna 182 Skylane, which also would be a great family airplane someday, took off just before us. Honestly, I don’t think that I would be very picky if we could actually have our own airplane.


As we held short, my breath was taken away by this giant. Does it look familiar? It’s actually a bigger sister to my little Phenom 300. This is an Embraer Legacy…even though I’m not sure which model (I think 600 series since it has so many windows). I would be just fine getting one of these in the next few years when my boss is ready to upgrade. We could certainly do Europe in this!


Not that I’m suggesting anything…


Now it’s our turn! We are cleared for takeoff on Runway 16R.


If you squint, you can see the Burbank Airport just to the left of the wing. That’s a busy place, too. I’m glad that we use Van Nuys.


We always cross these pretty mountains before being turned west towards home. It’s weird to think that such giant mountains are so close to Los Angeles!


I love this picture, with the misty mountains in the distance. I know that it’s just pollution, but we can pretend that it’s mist, right?


The sun really has some pretty characteristic traits as well, if you stop to think about it.


Soon, our home runway was in sight. Just this morning we watched all sorts of airplanes and helicopters take off from here. It was a little less busy late this afternoon when we arrived.

They must have known that we were coming!


Even though we’ve been here since February and are based here, the Tower still asks us where we park. I’m starting to wonder if they have a million controllers who simply haven’t seen us land here yet! Oh well. They are super nice, so who cares if they don’t know that we’re locals.


Great job today, Gladys. Thanks for getting us to California and back. And for not breaking down this time.


And look what’s waiting for me in the parking lot! Wow, I’m blessed.

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