Friday, May 11, 2007

The Grand Canyon

Today was my turn in the left hand seat and for Matt to navigate and do the radios. We got up early and I checked the winds and updated the navigation plot for a trip out to the Canyon. The ground handler in Vegas had already topped off the tanks so I preflighted the plane and we set off for the Canyon.

We used flight following again and ATC vectored us out over Nellis Airforce Base (I got a nice view of the jets parked at the base) and out over Lake Mead. We then did a dog leg around the
restricted airspace over the Grand Canyon area, but we got quite close for some nice pics from the air.

The route is over endless desert with little or no civilization to see....just scrub, hills, canyons and that's it. As we neared the Canyon the heat had already started to heat the desert floor and I was getting some thermals that had us bounce around the air.

Eventually we arrived over Grand Canyon airport and I got a wind check the runway in use was showing a tailwind so I asked to opt for the other. But then when I tried to land it I had a tailwind float me down and I couldn't stick her on the runway, so I did a go-around and came in on the other runway. By the time I had turned around and approached for the second go the winds had died down. A nice landing and taxy back to the parking area had us ready to go see the sights.

We took a taxi to the Canyon's visitor centre and made our way over to the ridges to take lots of photo's. We also went to grab something to eat and I had a very tasty burger and lots and lots to drink as it was pretty hot outside.

After a few ours of enjoying the sights, we got a taxi back to the plane. Matt went to pay for the fuel and I did the pre-flight again. The heat was pretty intense and so the plane used up a good chunk of runway. But soon we were back in the air and heading back the way we came. Once again the turbulence was quite strong as the thermals were now in full effect. A few times I got around 1500 feet climb rate on the VSI (vertical speed indicator) and a few times I was in full power and still descending!!!

Las Vegas Approach cleared us into their airspace and gave us a pretty cool ride into the city. We were asked to fly directly to the Stratosphere hotel (the one we're staying at here) and we had 4 helicopters to the city flights 500ft below us on our right. Pretty cool!! We were then vectored for the approach and I took us in for a landing. This time there was a strong crosswind and I had to use a lot of rudder to land us. I landed slightly left of the centre-line but it was a gentle landing. All in all a great day out in our little plane. Matt and I are off now to take pics of Vegas at night and Matt's got some money burning a hole in his pocket at the roulette table :-)

Palm Springs tomorrow...think I'm navigating and Matt's flying, but we've been there before already, so should be an easy flight.

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