Flying to Ramona was great and with my IFR clearance to 9000 feet, it was executed with ease. The approach was rather harmless with a few clouds in between the airport and I. I did a lap in the pattern perfecting my procedure even more. I still have a lot more room to get better, but I can feel how much I have grown with each landing.
On the way out, I amended our previous IFR clearance for departure from KRNM to KSMO with FSS. I did forget to post an alternate but using a TEC route, I was unsure on the certain procedures. I definitely have to reacquaint myself with those things. I filed an IFR Flight plan anyways, with the route identifier for my course, but I wasn’t sure how to treat it. I mean, forecasted weather was okay and everything enroute wasn’t going to be too bad and a TEC route is an IFR clearance anyways. I definitely was just completely unfamiliar except with the language that I read in the Jeppesen Manual the day before.
Flying along the way and out of Ramona, Jojo sat in front and while we were going through a cloud, I could see that he was pretty tense. The entire flight was chill and I got to play around with the autopilot for the first time. I got the handle on it real quick and we were on our way to SLI. Of course, approaching the LA area, I noticed that there were some pretty big clouds and that we were going to be taken right into them. It started to drizzle a little and while in the cloud, we experienced some light turbulence. It shook the airplane pretty hard and I even broke a sweat, but it was no problem. I disconnected the aircraft just to reengaged myself and "feel" the plane. Flying throughout the Santa Monica area was a little disconcerning on my own and being in the clouds, I definitely was making sure that all ATC directions were going to be clear of anything and everything. I didn’t break out till about 800 MSL and 1 mile from the airport. I even briefed that it would be a circle to land, but when tower told me I was clear to land, I thought that I could make it. Cutting the power to idle and just slipping to lose altitude didn’t get me down and I informed them that I was going to execute a go around. Being very kind, they told me to circle south and enter a left downwind. I guessed that knew that I was unfamiliar. I wasn’t sure if that was already understood being that the approach did call for a circle at 680 MSL. But I made a good decision to go around and felt pretty good about it knowing that I was far from stabilized. I mean, I was really high!!! On the initial approach, I got a NAV flag on my HSI but proceeded because I was now using my backup OBS 2 which I had already tuned and identified prior to the approach just in case. FAR 91.187 basically told me that I should have informed ATC immediately when I had that outage, but I didn’t know that until just this afternoon reviewing for my ATP. The approach in was no problem and we had an awesome lunch at Typhoon. I was excited for myself. I built a little bit more confidence in that I successfully completed my first TEC route but the hardest part I knew was yet to come.
Prior to even departing KSMO, I called up and went through the routing to CRQ with FSS and they were a huge help in helping me navigate on paper the exact routing. I spoke to Andrew on AIM and he told me what it would be like on the climb out and with all those instructions I thought that I was going to be overwhelmed. To my surprise, I found myself repeating the instructions no problem with only one confusing detail. I thought that I heard "left turn to 270 on climb out," but departing 24 I knew it was a right turn to get to 270. Tower corrected my read back and I was on my way. It was a little fast but ATC was pretty quick on getting me to my intended course. We climbed out west then eastward into a clearer sky with fewer clouds than on our initial approach into the area and both my passengers fell asleep rather quickly. We had a nice 30 knot tailwind increasing my groundspeed to 160 knots. It was an easy ride home and this time along the entire route, we had little to no cloud obstructions enabling us to sight see and relax a little. You can tell that the flight was great because my passengers didn’t wake up at all until we were 2 minutes from the Final Approach Fix into KCRQ. I woke them up with a breifing from the cockpit. (this is your Captain speaking thingy, ya know?) Yeah I'm a tool, but I like to think that I am practicing. It was a great day of flying. I definitley wish that I had a chance to fly everyday and just build up time like this. I feel that it is really valuable in the overall learning experience of being a pilot.
I executed a total of 3 approaches and logged .5 actual instrument time. I also bought the Jepp plates which I definitely appreciated much more than the NOS version charts. Erasable highlighters are the bomb too!!!