So I got checked out on a 2001 C-172SP, which had quite a bit more wear on it than I would have expected. At least it had moving map Garmin GPS and no squawks the entire time I flew it! A few false starts later (dispatcher forgot about me, didn’t give me the pre-flight written test I needed to complete, missing C-172 POH, etc.) the checkout proceeded smoothly. After dragging our asses out of bed early the next morning, we managed to take off around 11AM. The weather to the North wasn’t cooperating, so I plotted us to head west, then north in a rectangular pattern to avoid the MVFR/IFR.
The flight to Blythe was pretty boring, not to mention Blythe itself! Pictures are coming, but let’s just say Blythe, CA is a stinking desert, at least near the airport. After a walk DOWN THE TAXIWAY to the diner at the 76 Truck Stop (depressing), we hopped back in and made it to KVGT in about 3.0 hours total. And yes, as my gf has mentioned, my approach to VGT sucked. I made the standard Showboat 1 approach just fine, but as I came into the airport, I totally flaked, and set myself up for a straight-in landing for 35 — whoops! 17 was active, and I was to fly a left downwind. After calling the tower and admitting my mistake, he asked me to comply with the original request, only to have me screw up and fly a right downwind. After a pretty smooth landing, I apologized once again to tower, upon which he said “Heh, that’s OK, just glad we got you straightened out finally.” Controllers need more attitudes like that; nothing spoils your day more than a nasty tower operator. Kudos to you, mate, wherever you are.
What a whirlwind time we had in Vegas! I made $70 at video blackjack and roulette, and lost $60 at table blackjack, so I’m still up $10. We spent New Year’s Eve down on Fremont Street under the canopy, which was fun. Lots of alcohol and fun, and LOTS of walking to see all of Vegas. At least we weren’t driving all over! We had a fabulous meal at the Luxor (where gf and I were staying) the night of the 30th, grazed through buffets the rest of the time, and generally kicked up our heels. I honestly felt this part of the trip brought us closer together than anything else. Even with the commercial backdrop of Vegas, I couldn’t help but be sucked in by the wonders of a Jacuzzi suite and my love by my side!
Then, all of a sudden, it was the morning of the 1st, and I couldn’t find the key to the airplane — ANYWHERE. Ouch! I asked the hotel security desk if they had a locksmith they could recommend, but the one they sent me to wasn’t available. I randomly picked a few out of the phone book, and ended up with a guy who was a former A&P (!) He did it for $85, plus a photo of him in the cockpit. What a morning . . . thoroughly pissed off my passengers. :(
But all was happy once they came back (from a champagne brunch breakfast, nothing like the bubbly to cheer up your gf!) and we headed west for the Grand Canyon. Words can’t describe how incredible it was. I’ll post again when I have my chart in front of me, but we covered about half of the canyon in the air, eventually landing at GCN, where there was snow on the ground and some clouds at 100 feet AGL! It was romantic and gorgeous. But the sun was setting in the west, and I wasn’t current for night flight with passengers. So we hauled some ass, and I landed back in Phoenix just before dark. The sun setting was gorgeous, and seeing the lights of Phoenix ahead of us was incredible. The mountains along the route were a bit nerve-racking in the reducing light, but my chart and sharp wits kept everything in tune. Plus, no hypoxia as far as I could tell, so the whole thing went swimmingly.
This will all mean a lot more when the photos get uploaded . . . but that’s gonna be a bit, since I have 190MB or so to upload over an ADSL line (whaaa!)
Next: San Francisco and the trip home.