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2005 - Death Valley Trip to Furnace Creek

Date: December 11, 2005

So after a couple of weeks of not flying, Deanie and I decided to take a short hop over to Death Valley.  The flight would also be a test of the "Clarity Aloft" headset that I bought for Deanie for her birthday.  She had been complaining (now that she's flying with me on a regular basis) that the Lightspeed 15XL ANR headsets she's usually worn are too bulky and bother her ears and get in the way of head movement.

 From Tehachapi, we climbed up to 7500 ft. and headed northeast towards Ridgecrest, R-2506, and the Trona gap between R-2506, R-2505, and R-2515.  The weather was great - scattered cirrus up high, bright sun, no wind to speak of, and no turbulence.  We wiggled our way through the Trona gap and turned east at Trona to get to the southern end of Death Valley.  We then flew the 35 NM north up the valley to Furnace Creek (L06) - a 3000 ft. runway at an elevation of -210 ft.

Visibility throughout the flight was well over 100 miles - we could see Mt. Whitney and the Sierras up to the north northwest, the mountains near Las Vegas to the east, the San Gabriels to the south, and LOTS of nothing below us :-).  It took about 50 minutes to get there - it's about a 3 hour drive.

We landed on runway 15, back taxied, and parked on the ramp (which seems to have been designed by someone with delusions of grandeur - I think you could park 75 planes there at a time - there were 5 when we arrived).  There's not a lot there - a small room with a sign-in sheet, a telephone, and a bathroom.  It was dead calm there, and about 65 degrees with clear skies - absolutely beautiful.  Telescope Peak towers to the west 11,000 ft. above the floor of the valley, and there are mountains all around.

We walked the mile down the airport access road to the visitor's center, looked at the exhibits, watched a slide show, and vowed to come back with a car and camp out for a long weekend so that we can take some of the hikes and see some of the cool stuff.

We the walked over to the hotel and had a light lunch in the restaurant.  We then walked back to the airport and got ready for the
flight home.  After taking off in 1600 ft (they had a marking on the 3K ft. runway saying "there are 1500 ft. to the end of the runway", so I knew about where I was), we started a cruise climb to the south.  There's no cell phone service in the valley, and you can't pick up Joshua Approach below about 10K ft due to the mountains, until you get to the southern end of the valley.  We got Flight Following, and headed back west through the Trona gap at 8500 ft.  Joshua was busy, but no one was anywhere near us, so we had an uneventful flight, pointing straight into the sun, for the 45 minute ride back to Tehachapi.  Still beautiful, though :-).  An uneventful landing on Runway 11, and another good afternoon, thanks to the plane.  332 hours and counting.

Looking East

N83MZ parked at the Furnace Creek Airport Ramp, looking East NorthEast

Looking SouthEast

Marc and N83MZ, with Telescope Peak visible just to right (or left?) of left winglet tip

Looking West

Deanie and N83MZ looking SouthWest, toward "town" of Furnace Creek, golf course, and Visitor's Center

Looking North

Looking North from the road leading to the airport from the "town".

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