We usually make these so you can fly them with or without a GPS in your sim, but that’s getting more difficult every day. It’s a GPS world out there. Do you really not have some kind of GPS on your sim? Time to ditch that Windows Vista box and get with the times, my friend.
So make sure there’s an IFR GPS in your panel for this one. No WAAS needed, however. To make the day fun, pick out something fast and slippery. (Sometimes this author wonders what a spouse thinks when they walk by and only catch a sentence out of context.) Park that beast on the ramp in Ramona, CA (KRNM). Set the weather with some low ceilings and a southeast wind of your choice. Or just go with real world weather and promise to hide the outside view after 400 feet AGL going up and minimums coming down.
A word to those who might have just joined us is in order. This exercise is best enjoyed (feared?) in a simulator. An inexpensive home sim is fine, but if you don’t have access to a sim, go ahead and arm chair fly it. Don’t just gloss over the high points, but actually envision yourself in the airplane performing every step. Oh, and you’ll need more charts than we can show here.
Your clearance to Borrego Valley, CA (L08) is “… the Runway 27 (or 9 if your sim winds favor it) departure procedure, ROBNN, V208, JLI, V460, KARRO. Climb and maintain 4000.” Do yourself a solid for practice and dial all frequencies as you go. (Alternately, file these airports on PilotEdge and enjoy the full controller experience. No need to ask for that departure procedure because you’ll probably get it. If you do fly with PilotEdge, let them do the vectoring rather than following our instructions here.)
Fire up and fly the departure. If that’s Runway 27, when you’re six miles from ROBNN, climb and maintain 9000 and continue on course. If Runway 9, do what the text says but climb all the way to 9000 as you work it out.
Crossing JLI, clear yourself direct JAKEB. Five miles from JAKEB you get, “Cross JAKEB at or above 6000. Cleared for the RNAV (GPS) RWY 26 approach. When you reach a distance from the runway equal to the required visibility, look up and land as you see fit.
Turn yourself around with a clearance to Gillespie Field (KSEE) of “… KUMBA1.KUMBA, V66, BARET. Climb and maintain 10,000.” If you don’t like the requirements of the KUMBA ONE fly the obstacle departure procedure and figure out a way to KUMBA that doesn’t end your sim flight prematurely. Depart and get yourself heading back over the hills. Ten miles from BARET descend and maintain 8000. Three miles from BARET you get “… cross BARET at or above 5900. Cleared Localizer D approach.” Do your best to land straight-in Runway 27R. If you can’t make it, let Tower throw you a bone to enter left downwind Runway 9L.
When it’s time to leave Gillespie and go back to Ramona, your clearance comes back for the Mission Bay One, radar vectors, direct, at 6000. Depart the runway of your choice and fly it until established on R-076 to MZB. Once there, clear yourself direct CARIF— like that would ever happen in this airspace—for the RNAV Rwy 9 back into Ramona. It’s about 21 miles as the crow flies, but crows don’t get vectored all over SoCal.
If you set low weather, change it now to the mins for that approach (again, circling and straight in are the same). If you use real world weather, don’t look up until you reach a distance from the runway equal to the vis mins for your approach category. Oh, and assume the Tower is closed for “deep cleaning” so it’s a non-towered field with nothing but static on the ATIS frequency.
Make your best choice for reuniting tires with pavement. Taxi back in and call it a day.
If you’ve flown completely through this exercise, you’ll have encountered a lot of decision—or indecision—points and a lot of points that needed to be considered. Here are a bunch that we found. Compare yours to ours.
1. Which departure procedure did you fly from Ramona? If you took the easy exit via Runway 27, could you have done so from Runway 9? Why were you cleared to 4000 at first? How’d you enter the clearance into the GPS? Did it look right?
2. What happens when you reach 2600 before PGY R-336 on the departure? Do you just keep flying to intercept the radial, head direct ROBNN, or turn somewhat but still intercept the radial? If you depart Runway 9, do you really have to go back to ROBNN to climb to the MEA when you’re using that same airway to proceed on course eastbound?
3. Going into Borrego Valley, did you backup your GPS with a JLI radial at JAKEB? How did that descent for the runway work out? Did you catch the course change at the FAF? Did you land straight-in or circle? If the latter, which way did you turn?
4. What happens if you must depart L08 without an IFR GPS? Why is the ZUNGU an obstacle departure and the KUMBA isn’t? What’s the minimum for crossing KUMBA westbound. And, what’s up with T326?
5. Why is there no straight-in minimum for the LOC-D at KSEE? Could you use your GPS for this LOC-D approach? If you couldn’t land straight-in, which way did you circle?
6. Maybe you don’t like the climb gradients in the Mission Bay 1 and ask for a VCOA. What climb gradient must you still meet above the VCOA alt? And is it 4400 feet or 4600 feet? If KSEE Tower amended your clearance, to simply a runway heading on departure, they’re guaranteeing obstacle clearance. Is there anything you need to check though?
7. If your GPS annunciated LNAV+V, do you need to worry about crossing AYODA at 2520? When would you see that annunciation? Presuming you don’t have an altimeter setting for Ramona on the return, can you still land straight-in?