Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Vegas or Bust

Overflying the strip in Las Vegas.

Having just completed the VFR (Visual flight rules) section of the course I am now awaiting an instruments instructor so I can learn to fly without looking out of the window. To maintain some flying time and quite simply, for a hoot, myself and another Oxford student (James Wilson) rented a plane and went to Las Vegas for the night.

Leaving Phoenix at about 5-00 pm in our Cessna 172, we got to do the first hour of the journey in daylight before negotiating the remainder of the mountainous route in the dark. This is not as dangerous as it seems so long as you maintain your altitude (8,500 ft in our case). We couldn't actually see Las Vegas until we were within about 50 miles, however, at about 150 miles we could see the big orange glow just behind a mountain range (which made navigation fairly easy). Upon entering Las Vegas airspace, the workload became very heavy with lots of changes of altitude, heading and plenty of radio work as we transited three airports (one being McCarran, the main international airport in Las Vegas) on out way to North Las Vegas airport. Our approach to North Las Vegas meant we had to overfly the strip, an experience which I suspect will remain a highlight of whatever I go on to do in aviation.

The night out in Vegas was late but relatively quiet (we had to fly back at 9.00 am the following day) with a couple of beers, cigars, roulette (broke even for the record) and a walk down the strip to enjoy the bright lights and various sights. We managed to get a nice room in the Sahara hotel and Casino for 20 quid....bargain.

The flight home allowed us to view Vegas by day and to see the bloody big mountains we'd flown over in the dark the previous day. We got some great views of Vegas and some nice shots en route.

The best way to avoid the big jets is to fly over the top of them as we did when transiting McCarran International airport.

The Colorado River South of Las Vegas