Help with LAX "Mini Route"

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by eetrojan, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. eetrojan

    eetrojan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Hi All,

    I’m looking for some help and sage experience for my first flight through the Los Angeles Class B.

    I specifically want to fly northbound through the VFR “Mini Route” to transition through the LAX bravo at 2500 ft, passing right over the numbers for LAX Runway 24L. My flight would depart from John Wayne (KSNA) and land in Camarillo (KCMA).

    The inset on the Los Angeles TAC (reproduced below) says that I should approach VPLSR (405 and Hawthorne) at 2500’, and Hawthorne Tower 121.1 will coordinate my transition. The inset also says that “when cleared by LAX Tower, enter the Los Angeles Class B, …”

    Assuming that I’m with SoCal Approach since departing John Wayne, can somebody walk me through the timing and content of communications I should initiate with or expect to get from Hawthorne Tower, LAX Tower, and presumably, Santa Monica Tower?

    Also, under “Restrictions,” where it says that “LAX must be in west traffic or over-ocean configuration (generally midnight to 0630 LCL)…,” does that mean that the Mini Route is usually only available from midnight to 0630am?

    Thanks!

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    [​IMG]
     
  2. warthog1984

    warthog1984 Cleared for Takeoff

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    The Mini Route is cool, but usually only available at night (When CMA is closed). Hawthorne will be closed, so expect either clearance from SoCal or a handoff to LAX tower approaching the freeway.

    Why not do the SFRA instead?
     
  3. eetrojan

    eetrojan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks. I guess it means exactly what it says in terms of availability. Seems like a dumb question now...


    I'm new at this and just got laser focused on the Mini Route because I saw a video of that transition the other day. It was definitely daytime, so I thought it might be more frequently available then suggested by the inset hours.

    Looking at the SFRA, it looks pretty similar in terms of visual experience, but is flown on the SMO 132 radial at 4500 for northbound. And, I see, there's no need to get ATC authorization if flying through the SFRA.

    That sounds like good experience in its own right, but I'd also like to get the ATC experience.

    Maybe I should try the SFRA, then later the "Coastal Route," and later yet, on some crisply clear night, do the "Mini Route" down low?
     
  4. warthog1984

    warthog1984 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Sure, just remember that CMA and OXR close at midnight, so you won't be able to land at them after doing the transition.

    BTW- did SFRA southbound at dusk, northbound at night recently. Beautiful flight! Except SoCal approach drops flight following in the B without telling you :(.
     
  5. Neil Rubin

    Neil Rubin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The Mini Route is absolutely available during the day. What the chart says is that it is available when LAX is in (1) west traffic or (2) over-ocean configuration. West traffic is the typical configuration during the day, unless there are Santa Ana winds. Over-ocean is the typical configuration during the low traffic time late at night for noise abatement reasons (generally midnight to 630 LCL, as the chart says). As long as there aren't low clouds or easterly winds, the Mini Route is usually available. I use it all the time. It's fun to pass just 2500 feet above the great big runways and watch the widebodies taking off and landing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  6. eetrojan

    eetrojan Cleared for Takeoff

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    That's what I seek. Jealous.


    Does this always happen when using the SFRA?
     
  7. Jmcmanna

    Jmcmanna Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm a former SMO controller. Unless something has changed in the last few years, call the tower on the end of the mini route before you get to their Delta airspace. They'll give you a squawk code and tell you to contact LA Tower a few miles prior to the class B airspace. LAX will clear you into the B, then switch you to the other tower as you leave their airspace.
     
  8. Neil Rubin

    Neil Rubin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I think they sort of have to drop flight following when you use the SFRA. You legally need to be squawking 1201, and you really should be talking on the air-to-air frequency.

    If you want to be talking to TRACON anyway, for flight following, and are comfortable dealing with very simple ATC clearances, the Mini Route or Coastal Route have always struck me as more natural. You've got a Class B clearance, are under positive control, talking to ATC, keeping your flight following squawk code, etc. and you don't need to deal with the SFRA rules on speed limits, squawk code, use of lights, etc., or be particularly concerned about avoiding other traffic.

    As long as the planes at LAX aren't taking off to the east and the cloud and visibility requirements are met, the Mini Route is available during the day. I used it twice during the afternoon on March 30, for example.

    The procedure is like Jmcmanna says, or if you are already on flight following, give the controller the heads up on how you want to transition as you are getting close (or they will likely ask you at some point). They will arrange things and will hand you off to SMO or HHR (or LAX at night) when appropriate.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  9. Luvrv8

    Luvrv8 Line Up and Wait

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    If you are planning this flight next week be advised that KCMA runway will be closed. They are upgrading the lighting.

    My experience on the Bravo airspace with flight following is as soon as I can contact Mugu from Camarillo they ask me how do I plan on transiting the Bravo airspace. I think I was asked from the ground while at John Wayne from clearance delivery. Again, I think that was what happened.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  10. eetrojan

    eetrojan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks!

    If I was already on flight following with SoCal, and they knew my intentions, would they coordinate with the tower (Hawthorne) on my end of the mini route, or would Hawthorne first learn of my intentions when I make the call to them?
     
  11. Neil Rubin

    Neil Rubin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    SoCal will coordinate with the tower. I tell SMO or HHR tower that I'm transitioning for the Mini Route just to remind them, but they always seem to be expecting me and know I'm on a squawk code. Just enter VPLSR and SMO as the waypoints to navigate direct between (VPLSR is on the SMO 128 radial) and know the sequence of frequencies you'll be handed off between (121.1, 119.8, and 120.1 in pretty quick sequence if coming from the south). Sometimes it will seem like LAX tower waits an uncomfortably long time to actually clear you into the Bravo (they will often tell you to remain outside until cleared on first call up), but they've never failed to clear me before it's time to enter. Otherwise, it's easy as pie.
     
  12. eetrojan

    eetrojan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks warthog1984, Neil, KCMA Flyer, Jmcmanna! I appreciate it. Joe
     
  13. stratobee

    stratobee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Works during the day without problem at all. Here's the practicality of it:

    Call up HHR tower ask for mini route. He'll ask you to standby and then give you a squawk and then hand you off to LAX tower reminding you to stay clear of B until authorised by LAX.

    Once handed off to LAX they'll clear you into B and sometimes give you a reporting point. Sometimes it's nothing, sometimes it's above the LAX tower. On the other end they'll say you're exiting class B, please contact SMO tower.

    And that's it. It's pretty easy. They'll keep close track of you so you don't get too far off the SMO radial, but if you aim slightly east of the tower, you're in good shape.
     
  14. NickC99

    NickC99 Pre-takeoff checklist

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  15. eetrojan

    eetrojan Cleared for Takeoff

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  16. Old Fart

    Old Fart Pre-takeoff checklist

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  17. NickC99

    NickC99 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No prob. Found it quite interesting myself.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  18. VWGhiaBob

    VWGhiaBob Line Up and Wait

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    I use the Mini Route at least once a week. It's available all day, unless LAX is IFR. It's intense...within the 1st 10 in from KVNY I have talked to 4 towers and ATC. Get those radios lined up! For a more relaxing route, try the Coastal Route. Avoid the "free for all" Special Flight Rules corridor, where aircraft are uncontrolled. There has been only 1 collision so far, but I hear about close calls all the time. Way too dangerous for my taste, especially when routes are available where someone is watching your back!
     
  19. Minshall

    Minshall Pre-Flight

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    So after getting the squawk code from SMO/HHR, do you just listen to LAX-tower, or do you give them a heads-up to tell them you're on frequency?
     
  20. Old Fart

    Old Fart Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Listen to LAX tower
     
  21. VWGhiaBob

    VWGhiaBob Line Up and Wait

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    Here's what I do all the time. You will get a squawk code from SMO or HHR. They will tell you to "remain outside Class Bravo until cleared by LAX tower on 119.8." You must repeat this along with everything else they said, typically, "Cleared through the mini route via LMU (or wherever they send you) at 2,500 feet. Remain outside Class Bravo until...see above." You must repeat this with your call sign. When you get near the Bravo (don't enter it!), they will say, "Contact LAX tower at 119.8." Upon contacting LAX tower, I state, "Los Angeles tower, Cessna 1234 over Santa Monica VOR (or whereever) 2,500 feet, mini route south, Palomar (final destination...not necessary but they like it)." Then and only then you will be cleared. Note, don't be confused, they call themselves not "tower" but "Los Angeles Helicopters" because that's their full time gig.
     
  22. Learntolandshort

    Learntolandshort Filing Flight Plan

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    Agreed been confused by that!
     
  23. stratobee

    stratobee Cleared for Takeoff

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    It's not the same frequency as all the heavy iron into LAX are on, so it's not nearly as busy. It's, as mentioned, actually a discreet helicopter frequency that deals with the transitions of mainly VFR heli traffic, even though they're called "LAX tower".
     
  24. eetrojan

    eetrojan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Here are some YouTube videos that I found helpful to get a sense of the communications:

    Mini Route North departing from Hawthorne Airport
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di_W2RAVWSA

    Mini Route North from Palomar (KCRQ) to Van Nuys (KVNY)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qRMyZz_hgs

    Mini Route North (starts with Los Angeles Tower)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcdJNayfncI

    Mini Route North
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha2FDk-Wr08

    Mini Route North (pilots speak to one another in French, but to ATC in English)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3luMhxIwopw