Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Phoenix - Gila Bend / Cessna 152 (N706YL) / VFR

I just can't resist flying the same routes over and over. They're like a comfortable old blanket or something. This flight was no exception, being from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to the tiny Gila Bend Municipal Airport.

It was hot, as always, but the weather was very clear. I had my Cessna 152 parked on the Cutter ramp on the south side of the field. Departures were on 25L, so I just called in to taxi and was sent to H7 via Hotel. From there I departed, climbing to 2500 (I was cleared for VFR at or below 3500). This being a totally VFR flight, I turned slightly north after passing downtown, and picked out Grand Avenue below me, and then Interstate 10, my standard path out of the city. I later realized that at 2500 I was busting the Goodyear Class D—oops!

I asked for flight following, but I got a trainee Center controller who didn't seem to understand. His voice also tended to trail off into a mumble at the end of a transmission, so I wasn't sure if I had FF or not, even after asking several times for a repeat. He had not given me a squawk, so I figured I didn't. As I approached Gila Bend and started my descent, I canceled the request for flight following, but Center acknowledged it as a cancellation of flight following, so I don't really know what the situation was.

I know this route well enough that I don't feel too nervous flying it at night, even in a 152. I followed I-10 out past Avondale and Goodyear Airport, then out of the city until I came to “the bend in the road,” a little crook in the interstate towards the south where it joins Highway 85. Then it was left on Highway 85, and then south along the highway to Gila Bend.

It was totally black except for the highway. There was a full moon but it was off to the east and didn't seem to illuminate very much. Anyway, I got down to Gila Bend and easily recognized the beacon in the darkness, so I swung around to the east (using the TAC to check that I remained clear of terrain) and made my descent for a very nice landing at Gila Bend.