IFR to the Bay Area - PilotsNPaws (Full ATC)

A marine layer on departure and clear skies all the way to our destination under-the-SFO-Bravo… once on top, should we cancel IFR? In this case we chose to stay IFR and even fly the approach into San Carlos. A quick clearance release at KSBA and a straight-in approach at KSQL means our decision makes for an easy and quick flight. Doesn’t always turn out that way (hint: watch for the next episode). What considerations do you ponder on the question… to cancel, or not to cancel?
Thanks for your insight and enjoy the flight!
Wayne, the GeezerGeek Pilot

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It depends! How’s that for an answer. When I’m around Bravo airspace (LA area) I usually file and stay IFR. Sometimes there is a delay in clearance and I take off VFR and pick up my clearance in the air (assuming I can depart VFR). Mostly it depends on which airports I’m leaving or heading to and of course the airspace situation.

Mark, I think “depends” is a great answer! And I agree. In your LA example, if I broke thru the layer at KSBA and my destination was KTOA and the LA basin was clear skies (or high overcast) I’d cancel IFR and go thru the SFRA to Torrance. When my destination is KFUL, KLGB or KSNA then it’s just easier to let ATC do the driving and keep the IFR all the say in.
Thanks for checking in,

Nice video Wayne.

Nach, thanks for watching!

You’ve got to love the visibility offered by this canopy Wayne. Personally I am conservative and for example yesterday I just needed a pop-up so I canceled after departure but only after making sure I could see the ground and that my destination was VFR. On the way back I was VFR but when I got to the Monterey Bay it looked pretty grim though satellite photos showed some holes so I filed for the approach on the air and no problem, very nice ATC people. Very weird wx yesterday, took off from C83 with 220-30G35, take off was fine, the taxing not so much…

I cannot thank enough our controllers in the SF Bay Area for being very accommodating and nice especially since what I read elsewhere especially on the East coast (like people can’t get over the air clearance or hold 1/2 hr for somewhere). In 20+ years flying the Bay Area I was only given a phone number once 18 or 19 years ago and when I called they complimented me. Once I was lined up to the wrong runway (KSBP) and again ATC was very cool. The only place I routinely find the tower a little stressed is KSQL like if you miss their diamond-shape landmark by 1/8 mile you will get a letter on the mail.

I think we are very lucky in California in term of flying, even people who land on taxiways get a second chance.


Jeff, wow, that’s quite breezy even for Byron! I fully agree that both the NorCal and SoCal controllers are simply awesome. Fortunately I checked out beforehand the ForeFlight aerial view around KSQL to find (and draw) the diamond waterway :smile:. BTW – great photo showing the towers peaking out.