Sunday, October 26, 2008

Las Vegas - Jean - Furnace Creek - Las Vegas / Cessna 182RG II / VFR

This was an afternoon flight with multiple legs, in my creaky little Cessna 182.

I started in Las Vegas, at the Signature terminal, right where I had parked the aircraft after my last flight. I was given 25R and a left crosswind departure, and I departed uneventfully with one passenger for Jean airport, only about 20 minutes south of Las Vegas. After making my crosswind, I turned towards Interstate 15 and followed that south at about 4500 feet. It only took a short time to leave the Class B, and I declined flight following because Jean was only about ten minutes away. In no time, I was landing at Jean with my passenger.

At Jean I picked up two more virtual friends and topped off the tanks—I like to have full tanks for every departure. Then it was off again, this time back to the northwest, and through Columbia pass into Pahrump Valley. North of Kingston peak I turned west through a break in the mountains and then continued northwest. For a while I figured I was following the path of the Amargosa River, but the terrain looked too high, and by checking the charts and various VOR/DME readings carefully, I realized I was further west, just east of the tall mountains that include Funeral Peak. Knowing this, I adjusted my course to continue northwest beneath the Shoshone MOA.

Furnace Creek is hard to spot from the air, or at least the runway is. I knew it was roughly on the 182 radial from Beatty, at about 23 DME. I actually passed slightly north of the field and had to turn around and come back. A quick descent and one quick final turn and I landed without incident.

It was hot at Furnace Creek. After dropping off my three passengers, I filled up again and prepared to return to Las Vegas. This time I wanted a different route. I decided to go north of the Spring Mountains and towards Indian Springs. I calculated that I could fly a heading of 020 out of Furnace Creek, then turn to a heading of 081 upon intercepting the 167 radial from Beatty. Thereafter I could just follow highway 95, taking care to remain south of the highway, lest I stray into the ultrasecret box of R-4808 or R-4806. As it was, I almost crossed the highway and entered the box, but I noticed and turned at the last minute.

Following the highway took me around the Spring Mountains and then southeast back into Las Vegas. I was able to stay at 5500 the whole way—I wanted to avoid having to climb way up high to get over the mountains. It seemed a little bit faster than the other route, although it was slightly longer.

I called up Las Vegas Approach when I was about 30 miles out of LAS. I was cleared into the Class B and told to expect 19R and to report the field in sight. After turning east and working my way around the Strip, I was able to see the airport, and I was cleared to make straight in and asked to report a 3-mile final. ATC cleared me to land before I had a chance to report final, and I made my way in to a very nice landing.

From there I taxied right back to Signature and parked. All in all, some pleasant flights. They'd be a lot harder to do at night, though. Furnace Creek in particular has an unlighted runway surrounded by soft sand.

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