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2005 - Tehachapi to Las Vegas

Date: November 9, 2005

Since we're now on the west coast and our families are on the east coast, Deanie needed to travel to New York to visit her mother, and then Florida to help clean up her mother's apartment.  We had exhaustively researched flights out of all the Los Angeles area airports, as well as Bakersfield, and although the Bakersfield flights are a lot more convenient from a driving standpoint, they're also a lot more expensive.

It turns out that there are direct flights from Las Vegas, NV to New York, and that a COZY can get us from Tehachapi to Las Vegas (going south around R-2515) in about 1:20.

So, yesterday, I drove to work in the morning, worked for a couple hours, checked the weather, and then drove back up to Tehachapi.  5 minutes from the house to the airport, and 15 minutes to fuel up, add oil, and preflight.  We were off the ground at about 11:05 AM, into a 25 kt headwind.  After circling south around the Edwards AFB restricted area, we headed east northeast past Barstow.

Boy, there's an awful lot of nothing between Barstow and Las Vegas - if I wasn't flying an airplane that needed air to stay up, so that I knew there was an atmosphere, I could have easily been convinced that we had been transported to the moon.  I realized after getting halfway to Las Vegas that it might have been a mistake to take the direct route - maybe I should have followed Interstate 15, for safety's sake.  But, I will say, it's absolutely beautiful - mountains, desert, dry lake beds, small outposts of civilization - very different from what I'm used to.

Deanie has gotten very comfortable in the plane, and really appreciated not having to drive 4 hours to Las Vegas, plus the scenery is a lot better from 6500 - 9500 ft :-).

We called in to the Las Vegas Class B from about 30 miles out.  Even though I lived in the Boston area, I had always avoided the Boston and New York City (not to mention the DC) Class B's like the plague - they're exceedingly unfriendly to VFR traffic.  Over, under, or around - that's been my motto.  However, to get to McCarran Airport in Las Vegas obviously the only way there is through their Class B.  Anyway, the controllers were VERY friendly, explaining WHY they were vectoring me all over the place, and explaining their VFR arrival procedures.  Couldn't have added 5 minutes to the arrival time, and it's cool flying over all the airliners and bizjets.

They landed us on 19R, which is essentially GA row (if you consider anything smaller than a Gulfstream V to be GA :-) ).  Dead calm winds. A 2 minute taxi, and Atlantic Aviation rolled out the red carpet. First, a "follow-me" car, then a couple of folks in a golf-cart, then a 15 person van to take Deanie and her 2 pieces of luggage to the FBO office.  We said goodbye, and off she went.  From the FBO office, they shuttled her over to the main terminal in more than enough time to catch her flight.

I switched ballast back to the front, set myself up with my sandwich in the front seat, and called clearance delivery.  A 5 minute taxi and wait on the ground, and then I was back in the air on the way back to Mojave to get back to work.  The tower controller said the plane looked like a lot of fun, and asked me (as I was starting my takeoff roll) if I had seen the article on the COZYJET in the latest Sport Aviation.  I said that I hadn't yet, but I knew the plane and the owner.  These planes are great conversation starters with everyone :-).  Again, the controllers were very friendly, and I got Flight Following all the way back to Mojave.  Dead calm winds at Mojave, too.  A couple more hours of work, and then the commute flight back to Tehachapi with my car-pool coworker.  Dead calm there, too.  Winds are funny out here.

So, we get a great flight, see some scenery, and save a few hundred $$$ and a couple of hours.  Not too bad.


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