March 25, 2013
I called for a flight briefing as well as checking Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and Oxnard Atis, before leaving San Luis Obispo. Ceilings called for 2,800 to 3,200 along my beach route to WHP, Ca. My wife and I left at 9:00am. Upon take off in 17 knot headwinds, we soon determined over Oceano that 1,700 feet was the actual ceiling. I flew lower over Santa Barbara at 900 feet, but I have flown that route so many times I knew every power line and obstruction along Highway 126. Needless to say, over SZP the ceiling dropped to 470 feet agl but at this point I pressed on, passing Magic Mountain and requesting a special VFR. Upon landing, I went directly to Vista Aviation and obtained my instrument ticket. Too many VNY, BUR and WHP pilots have died utilizing their autopilot and then sustained vacuum failure. Never again for me.
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