September 25th 2002, Las Vegas

Vegas Baby, Yeah!!! A friend from work and I had been talking about flying to Vegas for a long time and we finally got ourselves sorted out enough to arrange it. This would be my longest trip ever and the busiest air space I’d ever flown in. There are three airports serving Las Vegas: McCarron is the main airport but tries to discourage small planes by excessive fees; Henderson is south of the city and a good bet; to the north is North Las Vegas and I chose this as it was supposed to be very friendly and would give me experience in navigating the big Class B airspace surrounding McCarron.

We left MYF in the morning and picked up flight following on our way to Julian. This trip would be strictly by the airways until we got to Vegas, from there I really didn’t know what we were going to be asked to do. The flight was nice and smooth pretty much the whole way, nothing much to really write about.

Just outside Vegas I made the mistake of the day – in order to get an easier descent into the Vegas area I advised the controller I was talking with that I was going to descend. Shortly after descending he told me I was out of radar contact and my flight following was terminated. Eek, that was not what I wanted to happen – I was banking on a clean handoff to the Vegas controller to make the job easier. Now they wouldn’t know I was coming and I’d have to do it all from scratch.

Getting hold of the controller took a while as we were too far out (and I was panicky about getting too close without getting my clearance) but eventually I connected and we were cleared through the Class B airspace. The cool thing about this is that they vector you right over the arrival end of the airliner runway and you get some great views of McCarron airport and the Strip:

After crossing the airport we turned towards our destination (this was actually a mistake, it had been suggested to us that we should fly a different heading but I forgot) and picked up the tower. We were cleared to land and I made a pretty decent landing in the failing light. On landing Bob called his brother and we were soon in Bally’s celebrating our successful flight.

Coming back we obtained a Class B clearance but, I think due to me misunderstanding a question, was this time sent around the edge of the airspace rather than through the middle. The winds were pretty strong and we bumped around the air on our way out of the airspace, not very comfortable. Unfortunately it stayed that way pretty much until Julian and so it was a long ride home.

Over Julian I could see a lightning storm out to the ocean and not too long after we landed the black clouds were directly overhead so I was glad that we had gotten home when we did.