Friday, April 01, 2011

How I flew to KLGB using the VFR transition routes

I  recently to flew Long Beach, CA (KLGB) from my home airport of  San Martin, CA (E16) under VFR rules. A couple of months I had done the same flight with another pilot so it was fresh in my mind. I try to always do as much planning as I can on the ground, that way when plans change in the air I can know my options. 
click to see the options
Flight Planning at

Trip One:  The other pilot and I did our research and pre-flight planning independently and then as a crew before the day we flew. The plan was that  one of us would fly and the other would not, but would handle the radio. It makes so much sense to fly with two pilots for safety and redundancy.  Some of what we did included checking the LAX Class B VFR transition routes, email a friend of mine that flies a helicopter to get his suggestions, and finally check what  the Internet has to say.
The first leg to LGB went without a hitch after leaving San Martin, we got flight following and while we had asked for the shoreline route they suggested we do the mini-route, no problemo!, two pilots makes it easier.
Leaving LGB was different. After a quick fuel stop, we got the current ATIS, called Clearance Delivery and then  received Ground Clearance to the runway. When we received our clearance for takeoff  (but no squawk code) for our soon to be flight through the LAX Class B. Shortly after takeoff and North of LGB, the controller told us that we were to squawk VFR and to have a good day! Nice, right:?! Had we just been released inches south of the LAX Class B airspace? Yep! Immediately we turned West to stay clear of all the surrounding airspace while we figured it what altitude and direction to maintain until we asked/received Class B clearance through LAX. ..... was a lot easier because there were two pilots whose responsibilities were split one to fly (pilot flying) and the other to communicate/figure out the airspace stuff (pilot not-flying). 

Once on the ground  @ E16 I could not help but think that I should have received a squawk code at LGB before takeoff. I was upset that I didn't ask for a code and felt like it would have been super easy and not a bit hectic for what seemed to be 5 min in a congested airspace but probably only seconds. 

Trip two:  Now on this trip I had some recent experience into KLGB but I was flying alone with sorta one passenger a 6yr old. I was determined to have even a smoother flight this time, re-checked the VFR transition routes and remembered the de-brief we had on the first flight. The mini-route seemed to be So-Cal approach preferred way. I looked up on to see if they had anything, it was helpful but dated 2005. Policies change so I was still looking for some current information. After a little bit more of searching the Internet, I found a phone number for LAX and I got the all the info. It was awesome! The controller said to do what is basically on the mini-route transition route. From San Martin I flew SSE so my route would take me to the Gorman Pass, a low point over the mountains, that would allow me time to descend to 2500' and try to get KLGB ATIS once over the mountains.
  • have SMO-VOR tuned and ID 110.8 on the 128R
  • before reaching KVNY be at 2500' @ VKNY contact them for a transition thru their space 119.0
  • next to expect was  KSMO 120.1 - they would give me the Class B clearance
  • KLAX 119.8 would confirm you are on the 128R from SMO (basically a straight line from SMO to the NE edge of LAX rnway 24R)
  • then KHHR 121.1
  • then KLGB tower 119.4I
this all happens in short distance so I had all the info written down

I landed no problem and taxied to AirFLite, the service is great there and I can't say enough good things about them!

Now the departure from KLGB. The  controller I had spoken to before had told me that LGB never coordinates the Class B transition so it was not unusual that I did not recieve a squawk code. That made me feel better, because I had felt I should have asked for a squawk code and forgot to.  What he did say was to get a frequency change from LGB when possible , contact KHHR and ask for the transition Northbound on the mini route and  do the reverse . Easy enough, I got this. So I take off then ask LGB for a frequency change to KHHR. Fine I get the frequency change ask KHHR for the transition and voile' the gentleman advises me that the Goodyear blimp is over the LAX and LAX twr is not accepting Class B transitions to squawk VFR and have a nice day! This time I am a tiny bit smarter and I have the autopilot is flying. I stop my ascent  to check the airspace between me and KFUL I'm OK and head east. I continue to climb to be over  KFUL's airspace, by the time I reach it. In the meantime I find the appropriate SoCal frequency and I am all set for VFR flight following back home to E16.

This may not be the way you choose to fly to KLGB but it's how I did it.