Well we finally made it. After a mammoth almost 5 hour cross country flight from Livermore, Matt and I safely navigated ourselves across the mountains and deserts of California/Nevada to land safely here in Sin City.....Las Vegas.
We took off from Livermore at around 9:30 this morning. I elected to do the navigation today and let Matt fly. While Matt checked the fuel and pre-flighted the plane, I was busy checking the winds and weather and on hold with ATC on the phone for a half an hour trying to file our damned flight plan. But eventually we were all set to go.
We flew out of Livermore and I immediately called the folks in ATC to activate our flight plan and ask for "Flight Following". This is a Radar Advisory service that you can get from start to finish along your route and you just get handed over from one controller to another as your flight progresses. We wanted to do this in case we got into trouble at all along our route. And it was nice to have an extra pair of eyes watching out for traffic conflictions and advising us (we got close to a couple of other aircraft during our flight) and steering us out of trouble.
In order to break the monotony and also spare our legs, we decided to have a stopover at a small airport int he arsehole of no-where in Lancaster, California. The airport is called General Fox and is in the middle of "Hickville". But it had a nice greasy spoon where Matt and I could top up both the planes tanks and our own with some food :-) Yummy.
A breakfast and coffee later we were ready to head off again on the second leg to Las Vegas. On our way down to General Fox, I was glad that we had the GPS and autopilot as it took the strain off of trying to maintain a heading and gave us peace of mind with the navigating. But when we were climbing out over the desert the far side of the mountains, the autopilot was having trouble maintain a heading and Matt was having trouble keeping altitude because the air would thermal us up at a thousand feet per minute and toss us about a bit.
But eventually, after about 4 hours or so and 15 controller handovers later we came into range of Las Vegas. We were cleared for our descent and routed West over the city to our destination airport and when we were about to turn final the wind changed and the controllers asked if we wanted to change the runway. I looked at Matt and he said yes, so I confirmed and we changed at the last minute. We were a little high, but Matt side slipped the hell out of the plane and landed beautifully. The two boyo's had arrived in Vegas.
We then rented a car and drove out to the hotel. We're staying in the Stratosphere (see the pic) and after a quick shower we went and hit the strip. A few first impressions....I am amazed at how many fat people there are here. And also how damn hot it is here. And the casino's have brought tacky to a whole new level....I've never seen such tat and tackiness in one place....but I guess that's Vegas for you.
Matt and I went on some of the roller coaster and thrill rides (we both weren't very impressed after having performed loops and aerobatics in Livermore) and then grabbed dinner and had a quick look about the strip.
Tomorrow will see us fly to Grand Canyon (I'm flying, Matt's navigating) and then back to Las Vegas to see some of the strip all lit up. Off to bed now as I have an early start tomorrow.