John, CFI at TAA UK and guest instructor at the recent Las Vegas CPPP Cirrus pilot event, gets airborne in Nevada. Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon and Nellis Airforce Base – what more could a pilot ask for?
Floyd and I looked around the Cirrus and agreed it was in perfect flying condition. Strapping in and, after listening to the ATIS, we were cleared initially to taxi to the hold of runway 7. The ATIS informed us that the departing runway was 12L. The taxi instructions are part of the procedure to stop pilots taxiing to 12L and crossing 7 by accident.
After the power checks our departure clearance was given as an advisory heading of 220°. This heading will keep us outside the McCarran Class B while we call them for clearance. With the clearance repeated we were cleared across runway 7 to line up on 12L.
Accelerating down the runway we took off and turned right onto our advisory heading. Northtown is to the Northwest of the Class B so for us to fly to our training area it was quicker to request a transit. Cleared into Class B and told to route to the threshold of 25 at McCarran and the overhead at Henderson Exec. With step climbs up to 8000ft so we could clear the mountains we shortly passed Henderson and were cleared enroute.
Our first stop was an airfield called Temple Bar (U30) not far from the Hoover Dam. With a 3500ft runway it was one of the shortest around. Which would serve my purpose perfectly. Floyd flew the aircraft beautifully and as we approached Temple Bar I showed Floyd a new trick of extending the centreline of the runway out by using the Garmin.
This can be done by selecting a direct to the airfield and before activating scrolling down to the CRS box and dialling in the runway heading, or pressing OBS on the Garmin and selecting the inbound course on the PFD CDI pointer.
Once we had the airfield insight we flew over head at 7000ft where I gently closed the throttle and simulated an engine failure. Temple Bar operates on a Unicom frequency and the airfield has nothing there apart from a runway, parallel taxiway and small parking area. There were no aircraft on the ground or on the frequency so it was all ours. Floyd selected to fly a pattern around the airfield and position himself on a downwind at 1000ft above the airfield ready for a constant aspect turn into the runway. Touch checks and practice Mayday call completed we landed a little deep into the runway, but very safely. Nicely executed.
After Floyd demonstrated his skills in the circuit pattern, we climbed away from Temple Bar and routed towards Grand Canyon West airfield (1G4) where I could begin to fail equipment on the Cirrus to see how Floyd coped with it. First went the alternator 1. Floyd dealt with the situation very well, informing me what he would do and how he would shed the load. With the ALT1 breaker back in we continued to Grand Canyon West where I asked Floyd to demonstrate a touch and go. Grand Canyon West is a busy airfield with Scenic Twin Otters and helicopters taking sight seers over and into the Canyon. The airfield is on the edge of the Canyon at 4825ft, the highest airfield I had landed at. We had some spectacular views as we descended even though we were not allowed to fly over the top. Approaching the airfield Floyd selected 50% flap.
Ooops, some sneaky instructor had pulled the flap circuit breaker out. Adjusting himself to perform a flapless approach and with a little coaching he touched down beautifully for a touch and go. Two more of those were performed and once we were both happy we departed back to North Las Vegas.
So that Floyd could complete his Wings Programme hours we practiced some general handling. Stalls, 45° banked turns, and slow flight. All done lets go home for a well earned coffee and a chance for Mark to fly with me for the late afternoon.
But wait. Nellis Airforce Base was on our way home a great opportunity to shoot an approach into the Home of the Fighter Pilot. Contacting them they were more than happy to oblige in Radar Vectoring us onto the ILS for an approach down to minimums. With no procedure for Nellis in the Garmin it was down to Floyd to enter the raw data in to the Garmin for the approach. Intercepting the localiser and following the Glide Slope once establish went very well following another of the CPPP Cirrus by about 4 miles.
We had been briefed beforehand that Nellis would not allow a touch and go, that didn’t stop us flying down the runway at decision height to view the array of fighters parked on the ramps. F15’s, F16’s, A10’s and even a new F22 Raptor underneath a canopy. A short hop across to Northtown for a join over the Santa Fe Hotel where we were all staying returned us safely to the ground. Floyd was very pleased with his performance, as was I. Tomorrow would be the instrument workout.