My visit the the John Wayne airport in Santa Ana California last week reminded me that as far as jet flying goes I still have a lot to learn. To say that the airspace just south of the city of angels is busy would be an understatement of the highest order. Helicopters taking tourists for holiday rides, flight students learning working on their license, private pilots out for a spin, and business jets all buzzing around the airport like a hive of bees. Oh, and there might be one or two airliners heading to and from LAX thrown into the mix just for fun. So when you fly in or out of an airport that gets very busy you usually are required to fly one of their predetermined arrival or departure procedures. Each procedure has a mix of mandatory altitude and speed restrictions that must be followed to ensure safe separation from other aircraft. I’m sorry, maybe I’m doing a good enough job explaining the seriousness of following the procedure. I should spend more time emphasizing the words MANDATORY and MUST! Lonely? Feeling neglected and unloved because you never get any personal mail? Just bust one of the altitude or speed restrictions in the airspace next to Las Angeles and the FAA will waste no time sending you a letter. and don’t worry it will be VERY personal.
Flying in from Scottsdale AZ we were assigned the Rooby Three arrival which, as you can see in depiction above, is complicated but relatively straight forward. There are a lot of altitude changes but only one speed restriction and only one heading change. We were empty on this leg (no one to scare but my copilot) so I got to fly. Things happened fast but it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I managed to not only find the airport but I didn’t put any large dents in the runway when I landed.
The Hobow Two Departure on the other hand is an entirely different kettle of fish. After departure your first turn comes when you climb out of 560 feet. In a jet that takes about 10 seconds and you’re just getting your gear and flaps up at this point. After that the hits just keep coming. There are 2 mandatory speed targets, 3 altitude targets, and 11! heading changes! Let me tell you, it was a busy couple of minutes because not only did we have to make sure that we were flying the departure correctly but the radio was going nuts! Just a little different than flying skydivers out of a grass field in Wisconsin I guess.