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Peter Schmidt

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Peter Schmidt

About Me

Basic Information

  • Gender

  • Birthdate

    1952-04-30
  • About me

    I have the feeling that I am around for so long that this short stay on this little blue marble here at the outskirts of a minor galaxy is just the blink of the eye - yet it feels important.

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Member since
Sunday, 29 January 2012 13:50
Last online
6 years ago

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7 Jul 2017

Flying into LAX by myself

A Youtube video by Niko’s Wings of a night approach and landing at Chicago’s O’Hare reminded me that I had done a similar stunt a bit further west at LAX.

If you have no first-hand experience with the navigation of the airways you will not know that landing at one of those big airports like O’Hare is virtually impossible for a private pilot with one fan in front.

You sometimes get routed through a Bravo airspace (the highly protected space around major airports) but have to get explicit permission to enter in the form of a clearance like “Piper Warrior N8300L cleared to enter Bravo airspace.” But landing at the airport that this Bravo airspace protects You don’t’ even think about it  – – –  normally.

But maybe I am not normal. So, in the 90s, I was playing in the airspace west of Burbank – my home airport,  one late night, probably after 1 am. The radio was quiet most of the time and suddenly the idea hit me – why not shoot a practice approach into LAX, just 20-30 miles to the South-East.

So I tuned into LAX approach (now SoCal approach) – “LAX approach, PA28 N8300L, request!” I might have woken up the controller but he came back shortly “N8300L, LAX approach, go ahead.”

I gathered all my courage and asked for a practice-approach into LAX. Unfortunately, the answer was that no practice approaches are permitted at LAX. But – – – you can have a full stop landing. Wow – that was even better! For all you non-flying peeps, a practice-approach is the pretense to land at an airport as if there were clouds so that you have to land only using your instruments. Then, when you are close enough to ensure a safe landing, you give full power and get out of there – often turning around, flying another approach – that’s why it’s called ‘practice’ approach.

Now, really landing at LAX with my Piper Warrior – that would be something to tell the grandchildren about, many, many years later.

So, yes, Sir – I’ll take that approach and landing into LAX!

I got my clearance into the Bravo airspace and radar vectors to the ILS Runway 24R. (ILS stands for Instrument Landing System – a radio signal coming from the beginning of the runway that guides us down to the landing zone vertically and horizontally.)

And then I flew like a young god – holding my assigned altitude within 50 feet and pegged my directional gyro exactly where the controller had told me. I intercepted the ILS and slid down towards 24R.

Then it was time to switch from approach control to tower. Just saying “Los Angeles tower, Cherokee 8300L with you for 24R” grew some serious hair on my chest.

But I did not get to complete my landing at LAX after all. Tower told me that I should finish my approach and then fly a missed approach. That was the friendly way of giving me my practice approach without violating their rule that there are no practice approaches at LAX. It might have been a bit of a loss for me but, on the other hand, I might have owed LAX a landing fee.

I was handed over the approach control again which guided me out of the Bravo airspace and shortly I landed at my home base Burbank, tied down and went home a hero.

6 Dec 2016

A not quite International Airport

(This is a little story that I wrote in my blog before their were blogs.)

I loved the little air strip of Jerry and Lucy up there in the High Sierra. And I was afraid of it. It’s one of the places that possibly pushed me over the edge to make the decision to learn to fly. The romantic feeling of flying a bi-plane, wind in your hair, into a strip out there in the wilderness. Here is a strip like that. I call if Jerry’s paradise. Because it is. Last time I was up there, Jerry told me they are there for thirty-seven years now with no intention to leave.

Nearly every airodrome looks small when seen from the distance. However most of them get bigger when you come closer. But Jerry’s airstrip, even when you are close enough

ng_12

to make a decision to land, still looks really small.

During primary training, my instructor always complained if I did not land exactly on the center line. I never really understood it, because on a runway like Burbank’s 8 there was so much space on both sided, so who cares about the couple of feet to the left or right. On Jerry’s air strip you just don’t have a couple of feet to the left or right. There is only the center line.

After touchdown on Jerry’s air strip I always try to get trusty 08L stopped before reaching the middle of the strip. There is a mown area to the right of the actual runway to tie down a couple of planes. Never managed to do so though. Always had a bit to much speed still and had to run all the way to the end of the strip, turn around in Jerry’s yard and taxi back to the tie down. One of these days I will manage – I promise!

Takeoff in contrast is rather easy for me. This one time my friend Ron, with whom I stayed for the weekend up there in his mountain hotel, dropped me of at 08L’s parking space and took a nice series of shots of my take-off. I thought I share these ….

ng_to1

Going through the pre engine start checklist

ng_to2CLEAR PROP !!

ng_to3Increase power to start rolling – and it takes quite a bit of power to start rolling on the grass surface.

ng_to4Taxi Back towards Jerry’s Yard

ng_to5I really had to figure out how to turn in Jerry’s Yard. It’s a bit too narrow to turn directly, so I use the technique I learned in driving school for turns in narrow streets: All the way to the right, then a sharp left turn toward the curb, followed by backing up with a right turn – –  only 08L does not have reverse! Fortunately, the yard slopes up, so my left turn goes up a slope and gravity helps me to go backward – – then another left turn and the 180 degree turn is done.

ng_to6Aligned with the runway with Jerry’s yard behind me, Checklist, Ready for Take-Off! No need here to announce my departure on unicom frequency – first, there is no unicom frequency, and second, Jerry would have told me had somebody else announced his arrival.

ng_to7Gaining Speed – 30 Knots

ng_to8Rushing by Ron at 40 Knots

ng_to9Reaching Rotation Speed at 60 Knots

ng_to10Staying in Ground Effect to Gain Some More Speed

ng_to11Leaving the Earth Below!

Reaching 4500 feet, 500 above the strip, I turn around, fly over the field once more and rock the wings to say good bye. Then it’s climbing nearly all the way to Bakersfield to get up to 9500 to get enough altitude between me and the Grapevine. Crossing Gorman VOR I start letting down slowly until I’m at 5000 over Magic Mountain

ng_mmwhich looks so insignificant from up here. Still, I don’t think anybody would ever get me into Colossus, Ninja or Viper.

And then, just a little bit later:

“Burbank Approach, Cherokee 8308L, over the Magic Mountain, five thousand, landing Burbank with Information Alpha.”