Flight Simulator Co-Pilot

by Charles Gulick

Tijuana Taxi

San Diego Int'l/Lindbergh, CA to to Oceanside Muni, CA

North: 14763. East: 6105. Altitude: 17. Pitch: 0. Bank: 0.
Heading: 262. Airspeed: 0. Throttle: 0. Rudder: 32767.
Ailerons: 32767. Flaps: 0. Elevators: 32767. Time: 8:00.
Season: 1. Clouds: 0. Surface Wind: 6 kn., 140 deg.

San Diego has been called the only city in the country with perfect weather. Its average temperature is 70 degrees. (Just for kicks, call the tower on 134.8 and see what the temperature is this morning.) Annual rainfall is barely ten inches.

But there's more than great weather to recommend in what the San Diego Chamber of Commerce calls “America's Finest City.” It has 70 miles of Pacific beaches, where you can spot giant gray whales heading south to their spawning grounds, or you are likely to find yourself swimming with a few sea lions.

San Diego's beautiful natural harbor is a port of entry for Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. On a hill above it, Father Junipero Serra inaugurated California's first Christian settlement in 1769. The harbor is filled with ships of every description, but particularly those of the U.S. Navy, for which San Diego is a major base. The graceful Coronado Bridge arcs high enough to let the tallest warships and other vessels pass under.

Famed WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle once described a club in San Diego called the Bottom-Scratchers. To become a member, you had to get three abalones from the ocean bottom, and also bring in a live shark by the tail, barehanded. No diving equipment was allowed, although the bottom was about 30 feet down. Prospective members carried just a flashlight, and a sharp knife for cutting the abalones loose. Only five men had ever met the requirements, and on one occasion, reported Pyle, a sea lion bit the flashlight right out of a diver's hand.

Across North San Diego Bay, which is south of where you're sitting, is the North Island U.S. Naval Air Station. A few miles west of you is Balboa Park, site of the celebrated San Diego Zoo and the world's largest collection of wild animals. Also in Balboa Park is the Prado, built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Strolling through this park, you're likely to come upon jugglers, musicians, and other entertainers. And in the air around here, keep a lookout for hang gliders.

Get set for takeoff on Runway 13. It bears about 132 degrees to your left, so you'll need a sharp turn to the left to get lined up. Anyway, you should learn how best to turn your aircraft in place. The easiest way is to crank your yoke over in the direction you want to turn, then apply a notch of power; neutralize when you're pointed where you want to be.

Use radar as a directional aid if you like, and make your normal takeoff run and climb-out. Almost directly ahead of you as you climb you'll see two highways coming to a point. The one nearest you is Interstate 5, and the other one is Interstate 805. Aim for the point at which they join, in the green just beyond the edge of the San Diego metropolitan area. Level off at 1000 feet.

Now, I'm sure you've heard of Tijuana, Mexico. But have you ever been there or even flown over it? Neither have I, so let's go. It's straight ahead of us, and we'll fly over it as we cross the point at which the highways meet. And at the same moment, we'll cross over into Mexico, with the Pacific Ocean about four miles to the right. No passing through customs, and no border hassles. If you were on the ground you would have to buy Mexican car insurance, or park on the U.S. side and walk or take a cab into Tijuana. But being a privileged pilot, with your own airplane, you simply fly over all the problems.

Tijuana's fame, by the way, results from the fact that booze could be bought there in Prohibition days, and that today it has—besides alcohol—racetracks, bullfights, casinos, and other attractions.

When radar shows you're past the last short strip of highway, turn and head due west (270 degrees). You'll be flying along the Mexican border with the Pacific in front of you. The island you see is San Clemente. Keep up your instrument scan, hold your altitude close to 1000 feet, and take frequent looks out the right side. When the tip of the San Diego metro area is even with the leading edge of your wingtip (90-degree right view), turn and head north.

Tune your NAV1 to Oceanside VOR and get on an inbound radial to the station. About 30 to 32 DME miles out, you'll pass San Diego International, which will be visible out the right side.

About nine miles further north is the famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California/San Diego.

If you keep your OBI needle centered, you'll wind up a few miles west of Oceanside Municipal Airport, because that's how far the VOR station is from the airport. So about six miles out, transition to slowflight and look frequently out the right front. Before you get to Oceanside, you'll fly past the McClellan-Palomar Airport at Carlsbad.

Because the winds are southeasterly and Oceanside's runway headings are 60/240, you'll have to land crosswind (meaning the wind will be at approximate right angles to your heading when you're on final approach) regardless of which runway you use. So use whichever runway appeals to you. Once you have the airport in view, you need only approach and land. Elevation at Ocean-side is 28 feet MSL.

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