Monday, March 9, 2009

Furnace Creek - Eastern Sierra - Placerville - Little River / Beechcraft Bonanza A36 (N6835W) / VFR

Today was a bit of a marathon, with several connected flights starting in Furnace Creek (in Death Valley) and ending on the Pacific Coast at Little River Airport. I made intermediate stops at Eastern Sierra Regional Airport in Bishop, and Placerville, roughly on opposite sides of Yosemite National Park.

The flight from Furnace Creek to Bishop was mostly uneventful, but I had trouble picking up the VORs I wanted to use, and ended up using BTY for reference longer than I had intended. I managed to work around the mountains so that I wouldn't have to fly too high, and found my way to Bishop mostly visually, with a bit of help from the BIH VOR once I was able to receive it.

After a restroom stop and some fuel (the two things I generally require at every stop), it was off north towards Placerville. I followed a curvy path east of the mountains up to NIKOL, then turned west and depended on pilotage with a chart the rest of the way. Mono Lake was one of my waypoints and was very easy to see, and up from there I looked for other lands, roads, and cities that I expected to see on my planned route. The terrain made me nervous, and I eventually ended up at 10,500 feet with oxygen, at which point I realized that my circuitous route to Placerville could be straightened a bit, since I was already over the mountains with Lake Tahoe plainly visible just west. I flew over the lake to Tahoma using the Squaw Valley VOR to help me find the right point on the western shore of the lake to continue my flight. After getting around the terrain at Tahoma I turned to the Hangtown VOR and arrived uneventfully at Placerville.

From Placerville I took off again and proceeded northwest to ILA. I had trouble picking up the VOR for a while so I used Hangtown to guide me until ILA was within range. From there I continued west to the Mendocino VOR (also had some trouble picking that up), and finally straight from there to Little River. The weather was good all the way. I couldn't actually see KLLR until I was almost on top of it, thanks to the hills and my descent, but I made it okay.