Sunday, November 23, 2008

Las Vegas - Perkins - Echo Bay - Desert Rock / Beechcraft Baron 58 (N2735W) / VFR

Just a few practice flights around Las Vegas, without passengers.

My first leg was out to Perkins, a tiny airport near Lake Mead. Once again I had to make a speedy descent and didn't land very elegantly, although my touchdown speed was good and nothing broke. After that, I made a quick hop to Echo Bay, just south of Perkins and also right next to the lake. That went much better, with a very nice touchdown. These tiny runways are deceiving (just like the books warn): you think you're a lot higher than you are. Just the opposite of the huge runways at big airports, which seem to be right beneath you when you're still 200 feet up.

From Echo Bay, at sunset, I set out to Desert Rock, in an unrestricted part of the Nellis range (right near Mercury). I flew down to MEADS, then west into the Class B, following the Cortez transition route to get up to highway 95, which I then followed (on the left side) up to Indian Springs and then Desert Rock. Most of this was at 4500, except for a brief portion at 5000 as I neared KDRA, due to rising terrain.

Although the GPS could have done all of this, I chose to navigate laterally by hand (I let the AP handle altitude). As usual, I plotted out my course on charts first. I picked a heading out of Echo Bay that would take me directly to MEADS, at which point I intercepted and turned west on the 066 radial from LAS. I followed that in to 14 DME, at which point I turned to heading 268 to pass over the El Cortez hotel on the transition route. The hotel was hard to spot but I knew that LAS315005 was the spot, and when I got there I turned up towards highway 95, which was still on the transition route and also towards my destination. Thereafter I followed the highway all the way to Desert Rock, taking care to always keep the highway on my right (which kept me out of restricted airspace). I tuned the ADF to the Mercury NDB for good measure.

The descent into Desert Rock was a bit steep and messy but touchdown was fine. There are some runway lights (which fortunately were on when I approached), but nothing else except a tower. It was almost completely dark by the time I pulled onto the ramp.

I had ATC available all the way. LAS Approach cleared me through the Class B transition. I tried to contact LAX Center to establish communication before passing through the Indian Springs Class D, but it never answered me, and within a few minutes I had passed through the Class D, anyway. At least I did my duty.

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