Today, we planned a flight to El Monte through the LAX mini-route and a landing at John Wayne airport on the way back.
We had to postpone the flight twice due to bad weather along the coast. Today was forecasted to be overcast on the shoreline until 13:00. Unfortunately, by the time we were planning on starting the descent, the mini-route was closed and we had to divert to John Wayne (Orange County, CA). If weather permits it, we are flying to El Monte and Ontario Int through the mini-route on friday.
It was still quite an enjoyable flight and having to divert is a good teaching experience. You have to replan the flight, tell the controlers your intentions, figure out how you get to your new destination, get the ATIS and all the information you need within a very short amount of time.
At the same time, the controler asked us to turn through a 090 heading in order to avoid an incoming traffic, and flying Eastbound got us closer to John Wayne Airport. Flaps out, expediting the descent as we had left Flight Level 65 (6500ft) only a minute ago, we were transfered onto John Wayne TWR, we passed our message and we were cleared through the mid-field overhead and left traffic pattern for a Runway 19L landing. As we were on final, a Southwest Boeing 737 was landing on the parallel runway.
On the ground, cleared of 19L, we contacted ground to taxi to the FBO. So, what is a FBO? For a european pilot, that seems totally new. And indeed, this is something we simply don't have in Europe.
On middle size airports like John Wayne, they have 2 FBOs. Some airports have more, some have only one, and some don't have any.
A FBO is basically a handling facility which looks like a could be defined as some kind of a business terminal. The main difference being that any pilot, either leisure pilot or commercial pilot, gets the same services. They are the ones refueling the aircraft, arranging transportation to a hotel, marshalling the planes on the apron, carrying our baggages, or lending a car for a few hours.
In the FBO in itself, they've got everything a pilot would need. Crew rooms, meeting rooms, flight planning rooms, and even a place to sleep when on duty and waiting for the next flight.
We got the keys of a Ford Mustang, this is one of the services that come with it and you do not have to pay for it. That was perfect as we needed to grab something to eat.
Airports such as John Wayne have a Clearance Delivery frequency we contact prior requesting taxi on the Ground Frequency.
This is the frequency that is going to coordinate our flight back to San Diego, and passing our information onto each of the next frequencies, and .. they give us our first clearance. "Cessna 2726E, after departing end-of-runway, turn left Heading 150, climb at or below 2400, departure frequency will be 124.1, Squawk 0240".
Heading to the shoreline via Dana Point (South-West of John Wayne), we chose to come back inland to transit over Miramar MCAS. At that exact moment, a F18 was touching down on the Westerly runway at Miramar. We then proceeded towards the overhead of Montgomery Field a few miles further South and entered the pattern for a 28L landing with 40° flaps, and for once that was a very smooth landing.