What is the preferred route for low time VFR pilots going to Van Nuys from the Bay Area. Via Santa Barbara has been suggested to avoid turbulence over Gorman. Makes sense. But how about on a typical summer day with a low overcast along the coast. Seems like flying on top gives you very few outs in an emergency since to get to an inland alternate from SBA you need to cross over the 6000 foot coast range.
I’d take the chance of a few bumps over the mountains around Gorman over the likelihood of coastal stratus most days…plus you’ll probably see a lot less traffic. Less airspace to worry about, too. Stay high as long as you can over the mountains. I’ve usually noticed fewer bumps if you stay slightly to the west or well east of the Diablos instead of following V485/137. On the other hand, if you get one of those ‘coast is clear’ days, it’s awfully pretty along the coast…
I fly from Palo Alto to Southern California quite often. The most scenic route would be down the coast, so long as you’re willing to fly for 20-30 min with little emergency alternative to ditching (Big Sur area). Go inland at Morro Bay, overhead Santa Maria and then Santa Barbara. The next most scenic would be down the Salinas valley, overhead Paso Robles, then San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria etc. as before. There are a number of restricted areas and MOAs to watch for along the way, Oakland Center or LA Center will tell you if they’re "hot."If you’re just interested in getting there, go overhead Salinas, then to SARDO or BRALY intersections, then direct Lake Hughes (LHS) or Gorman (GMN) VOR, then direct VNY. 5500 or 7500 works fine until the southern end of the central valley, then 9500 feet gives plenty of clearance near Gorman, and it’s more or less a ballistic flight from there into VNY. Well under 2 hr in an SR20.
I assume you’ll get flight following. So after Gorman, once you get ATIS from Van Nuys, monitor EVERY exchange with SoCal Aproach. Van Nuys is one of the busyest GA airport in the world, and most traffic goes there byway of the Newhall Pass. It is a bottleneck with lots of planes around you. Get all of your ears and antennas at max. performance and have a good situational awareness. From the Pass it will be a straight in on most days to RWY 16L or 16R. A couple of miles south of the Pass on your left there will be a smallish water reservoir. At that point you should be below 3000’ to get below Burbank Class C, and this is an important final VFR reporting point. Good luck!
At what wind velocity does the Gorman area get turbulent? Does 9,500 get you above most of the bumps?
I have never experienced really objectionable turbulence there–just lucky perhaps, but I’ve flown through there at least 15 times. I would guess that the standard rules of thumb about mountain flying apply: 20 kt or more winds aloft and you’re likely to have some bumps. There are plenty of aircraft that go through there, so if it’s unusually bad there will be pireps. Just use flightwatch for pireps and flight following for traffic as recommended elsewhere in this thread and you’ll be fine.