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View Full Version : Las Vegas to San Francisco and MOA's?


Mike D
12-30-2011, 08:04 PM
I would like to fly from Houston (KDWH) to the San Francisco area (KSQL). But this time I would like to fly over the Grand Canyon and stop near Las Vegas. but there is a lot in the way between Las Vegas and The San Francisco area. MOA's and high terrain. So being VFR only, how would I do this?

Will the MOA's be an issue? If they are it is a long way around them.

Can a 150hp RV-6a make this trip given the terrain height? I have been to 13K feet before and could still climb, but the mountains are 10K feet.

Any advice is welcome. And of course, I will be PIC and take the responsibility that comes with that.

Guess I am looking for a route suggestion, and some education on planing a flight that will be going through a MOA on a weekday.

flyingriki
12-30-2011, 08:40 PM
Have done it several times. Lowest route is to come around the corner at Mojave and up the valley. Vegas-Palmdale-SFO

Last month I wanted to see the East side of the Sierras and Death Valley so went Henderson-Furnace Creek-Bishop-Lee Vining then over the mountains at the lowest point just north of Lee Vining to the valley and home to Sac. Kind of routed around the higher areas in between to stay below O2 country and then only a half hour at most over 13,000' over to the valley. Much more interesting than the Palmdale route unless you have not seen it before.

Just my 2 cents. Have Fun!

Garage Guy
12-30-2011, 08:59 PM
As for MOA's, no problem; get flight following from the controlling agency and keep your eyes peeled.

Restricted areas are a problem, and if you take the Las Vegas -> Palmdale route you will have to find your way around them. The Furnace Creek -> Bishop -> Lee Vining route avoids this.

Weather is potentially more of an issue, especially if you are going in winter, and especially if you take that northern route. West winds over the Sierras can be serious.

--Paul

Ron Lee
12-30-2011, 09:18 PM
Looks like the area west of Mammoth might be ok. However, as mentioned, with high (over 20-25 knots or so) winds at altitude I would take the southern route...even if it adds an hour or more to the trip.

Do get the Grand Canyon chart.

Try to stop at Death Valley:

http://www.airnav.com/airport/L06

Mike S
12-30-2011, 09:39 PM
Get hold of Seb Trost. PM or email should work.

http://www.vansairforce.com/community/member.php?u=1855

He lives in the Vegas area, and knows the routes to the bay area well, plus he can give you suggestions about where to stay in Vegas.

Good luck.

krwalsh
12-30-2011, 09:49 PM
Having flown through the Central Valley MOAs a few times, they really are nothing to be concerned about. The advice is right, get to Mojave, turn right up through Tehachapi pass, and on your way. Get Flight Following and ask if the MOAs are active, and you'll be fine. From LAS go Southwest to Barstow to get under the Restricted Areas, turn North toward Tehachapi, and the you should be good. I work across the street from SQL, so it is my "home" airport. Nice little greasy spoon diner, rental cars available, etc.

Mike D
12-30-2011, 10:06 PM
Thanks for the info!

I have flown the southern route before. Not bad but it is the long way around. The north route looks good. But this will mean flying over some bad areas to have a plane problem. Got to trust your plane.

I always use flight following on long trips. I love the ATC guys and gals. Huge comfort.

flyingriki
12-30-2011, 10:09 PM
Thanks for the info!

I have flown the southern route before. Not bad but it is the long way around. The north route looks good. But this will mean flying over some bad areas to have a plane problem. Got to trust your plane.

I always use flight following on long trips. I love the ATC guys and gals. Huge comfort.

2 things; flight following may have a hard time following you at low altitudes going the eastern route. And, though it looks ugly on a chart, there are dirt roads all over the place out there and not as scary as you might think. Many long straight runs and not many power lines........!

Sig600
12-31-2011, 04:11 AM
2 things; flight following may have a hard time following you at low altitudes going the eastern route. And, though it looks ugly on a chart, there are dirt roads all over the place out there and not as scary as you might think. Many long straight runs and not many power lines........!

True statement... lots of long straight dirt roads out there to set down on in an emergency. If you take nothing else in terms of survival gear though, take 2-3 days of water. Flight following too so that you're already talking to someone... cell phone coverage can be hit or miss. I've been places out there you'd never think would have coverage, and towns that didn't.

TomVal
12-31-2011, 07:51 AM
http://sua.faa.gov/sua/siteFrame.app

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLVtstYAZLY

A controller's comments wrt the youtube link above...

"I work at Vance AFB. We protect the MOAs from IFR traffic, via altitude separation by having the civilian traffic at a specific alt. or by caping the pilot in the MOA at a certain alt. VFR traffic we could care less about we have alot else going on, we advise you that your entering a MOA and give you the working Alt's if you want to go in it your choice. We?re not going to provide any separation or even try."

Have a safe trip!

Mike D
12-31-2011, 08:18 AM
DAGO, wow that was close!! That is why I don't want to "just fly through the MOA". I know it is legal, but just not too smart. I generally try to avoid MOA's, but in the area we are discussing, there are just way too many to go around.

Seems the way for me is the north route that takes me over Death Valley, use flight following, and be prepared for a stay in a remote area incase anything goes bad. Not too hard.

This trip makes a great reason for a PLB and APRS. :) two things which I am planing to get soon. Oh, back in the good old days of just a compass, watch, and a ELT. :rolleyes:

Mike S, I will get ahold of Seb when this trip gets closer. For now it is just planning for something more scenic route than flying the I-10.

pvalovich
12-31-2011, 10:15 AM
I fly out of IYK and fly over Death Valley and the Sierra frequently.

I'd go Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Lone Pine, Bishop then west. Or you can cross the Sierra south of Whitney at a lower altitude. There are no roads across the Sierra from Kennedy Meadows to Yosemite - the longest roadless stretch in the country.

Joshua Approach (133.65 near China Lake and Edwards) is very accomodating for flight following - but may not be able to track you low.

Amazingly scenic route - Death Valley, the spectacular Sierra, the flat as a pancake agricultural central valley, then the coast.

Head on a swivle in the MOAs but with flight following/monitoring you should at least be able to figure out wwhere THEY are.

SebsRV7A
12-31-2011, 01:07 PM
There's some great scenery on that route. Lots of good suggestions. I've crossed over Inyokern by weaving though the Trona Gap. Flight following got me shortcuts though the restricted areas.
I've taken the route along the NV/CA border and skirted the MOAs. Beatty to Bishop over the pass south of White Mountain. I was going to Sacramento, and have cut over near highways 88 and 50 a bit south of Lake Tahoe and stayed at 10.5k. For scenery, you can't beat flying over Tahoe on a clear winter day!
Crossing near Bishop or Mammoth affords lower terrain through a pass.

Wind near these mountains is NOT your friend. Be very cautious. If in doubt about the wind, go around the south side.

Send me a note if you want. Can probably squeeze you into my hangar in Boulder City if you stay in Vegas.

Greg Arehart
12-31-2011, 04:05 PM
Flight following - typically to get FF east of the Sierras you need to be well above 10k, though it depends on where you cross the range. If near Tonopah, you're more likely to get coverage lower. Further north of there it's less certain. I've never had an issue in MOAs using FF, and they typically will try to get you through restricted areas as well if possible.

Wind can be ugly, but if no wind it is spectacular.

greg

rvmills
01-01-2012, 01:04 AM
Mike,

Lots of great suggestions from the gang. Here's some details (and points for your GPS) to supplement what others have said:

If the weather's good, here's a possible route to the Bay Area to take if ya visit Seb and the Boulder City boys (good group!).
- When leaving KBVU, head towards Jean (0L7) to stay clear of LAS Class B
- Then to Furnace Creek, if you are stopping or overflying Death Valley.
- Then head to Beatty (BTY) and then towards Coaldale (OAL), to clear the MOAs.
- Once north of the MOAs (well before OAL), head towards an intersection named RBRTS. If the MOAs are cold or you feel comfortable with the FF you are getting, just go BTY-RBRTS.
- The Victor Airway from RBRTS to Friant (FRA) is the low spot in the Sierras in that area (and the area the others are talking about). Its a little of a zig-zag back the SW, but you'll get a good look at Mono Lake and the Mammoth area...and its a good crossing point.
- About halfway between RBRTS and FRA, you'll be past the highest terrain in the area, and you can turn a bit NW, and fly over Yosemite (watch min altitudes for the park). This may be an area where ATC will not be able to keep you in radar contact.
- From Yosemite, head to the Bay Area, and you should be able to get a clearance into and through Class B on the way across the bay to San Carlos (KSQL).

If the passes and mountains are cloudy at that midpoint crossing, head on up north from BTY towards Minden (KMEV) or Reno (KRNO or KRTS). Grab some gas, and head across either from MEV (across the south side of Tahoe) or from RTS (over the north side of Tahoe and Truckee (KTRK)).

One last option from the Grand Canyon area, should it be too windy to fly just east of the Sierras, is to head from the canyon towards Wilson Creek (ILC), then to Mina (MVA), then to KMEV or KRTS. I've done this route several times to and from races in Texas, and its clear of the Nellis and Fallon MOAs.

Just some stuff to plug into Weathermeister or Navmonster, etc, for planning.

Let us know if you'll be in Reno, and we'll come out and say hi...hangar space available at Stead if needed too.

Have a fun and safe trip!

Cheers,
Bob