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  #1  
Old 09-30-2013, 11:59 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Default Staying Flexible - Across the Desert Southwest


Tsam and Iron - Staying warm high above the grand Canyon

This weekend was a great example of the utility we can get out of our RV?s - so long as we stay flexible. With me living in Nevada (watching over our new airpark home project) and my wife Louise still back in Texas (can?t retire for a few more months ? but about to be furloughed by her insolvent employer), we are always looking for ways to get together. This weekend we took advantage of a meeting of the Explorer?s Club at the McDonald Observatory in far west Texas ? an out of the way place by any measure. While many of the attendees had to drive the ten hours from Dallas or Houston, we were able to utilize the RV?s to meet up ? with much greater ease. Louise had a nice ?short? 450 nautical mile trip in the RV-6 from Houston while I had about 980 miles to fly from Carson City.
My day started early to avoid bumps ? and because I was going to ?lose? two hours in time zone changes. My rules of thumb for our three airplanes are to plan 600 nautical mile legs in the -8, 500 mile legs in the -6, and 400 mile legs in the -3. Each of these is plus or minus 50 miles or so, and provide significant reserves?but they are good places to start. Once in the air, fuel numbers computed on the EFIS rule, of course. For this trip, it looked like I would need two stops, as I was flying Tsam. St. George (UT) and St. John (AZ) looked good ? and they had reasonable gas prices. I?d need a little dogleg between the two stops to go around the intensive parts of the Grand Canyon Special Rules Area ? Tuba City looked like a good turn point. And adding Las Cruces as a waypoint on the last leg would jog me around the White Sands airspace.
Departing at 0700 out of Carson, I was pretty much alone across the desert. I chatted with Desert Control to make sure nothing hostile (or alien) was playing in the MOAs and watched the nice tailwind giving me a boost that showed St. George might not be necessary. Burning 6.3 gph and truing about 165 knots, the G3X consistently showed I?d have better than 7 gallons at St. Johns ? better than an hour?s reserve, and it was good VFR. Staying high at 11.5 was more attractive than losing a half hour in a descent and climb, so we waived at Utah as we went by, bowed around the canyon and kept in mind that if the winds changed, we could always drop in on Winslow ? but made St. John?s with no effort at all. We caught up with a fast-moving cold front and it?s slightly pregnant overcast (which produced a few very light rain drops) across central Arizona ? but overall it was a piece of cake getting to Alpine (TX). Tsam and I got in about half an hour after Louise and our friends in their Rocket.
We had a wonderful time exploring around Fort Davis, star gazing with the 36 inch reflector telescope, and driving around the huge HETDEX telescope that will be searching the universe for Dark Energy ? just don?t ask me to explain what it is. Lectures by top astronomers were a bonus ? and if you decide to visit, the Indian Lodge (built by the CCC back in the 1920?s) at Fort Davis State Park is highly recommended as a place to stay. Alas ? Sunday morning arrived all too early (especially after the late night of stargazing ? do you know that you have to do that at night?!), and it was time to go our separate ways. Louise and Dave (the Rocket Man) had that cold front - now in east Texas ? and IFR conditions across the Hill Country to contend with. I was looking at clear skies most of the way ? but TAF?s calling for winds gusting to 38 knots at Carson City by noon ? and they weren?t even down the runway! Moderate to Severe turbulence were on the menu across Nevada as well ? that didn?t sound like fun when coupled with headwinds.

Fortunately, I took a look at the forecast on the southern route to California ? our usual route to SOCAL?s Big Bear Lake, where we have a cabin. Smooth, light winds, nice temps, no bumps?.was this the same continent? I wanted to be back to Carson by Mid-morning on Monday and being semi-retired (with flying experimental aircraft a part of my new job), I saw little reason to push the weather to Carson or to sit on the ground in Texas. The decision was simple ? load with fuel and head for Arizona! Climbing to 10.5K, I dialed in the XM radio and watched the GX Pilot steer me past El Paso and out towards my initial target ? Safford. It wasn?t long before the numbers showed ten gallons would be remaining if I pushed to Casa Grande, so I changed the destination and dropped into the usual stop. Ran into a nice couple and their child in an RV-9 on the ground there ? they were headed east to San Antonio, having left Fullerton. We exchanged weather notes and pushed on in opposite directions.

Big Bear at noon on a Sunday (on a nice day) can rival Oshkosh for traffic. Well, not really, but the line for the fuel pump was six deep when I arrived, so I parked and snuck in to the restaurant for a burger, then topped off afterwards. Caught up with my friends at the FBO and rolled the airplane into the hangar for the night. Monday morning rolled around calm and clear (as predicted) ? with Carson City calling for reasonably normal winds (also as predicted). I launched about 0615, cleared the ridge to the north and called up Joshua Approach to see if I could sneak through R-2515 before Edwards woke up for the work week. ?November 13PL, Cleared through 2515 at or above 7,000? was the cheerful reply, and I cut thirty minutes off the trip. A quick wave to Axel at Inyokern, then up the Owens valley- the grand cathedral with the spires of the Sierra looking down upon us at two miles above sea level. Joshua called traffic as a Beech 1900, same direction, off my right wing, passing me Sloowwwlllyy?.ah, that felt good!

A few bumps along the way, a little updraft action just south of Carson that had me going up about a thousand feet a minute (this is sailplane country remember), and I was home ? two hours and ten minutes after leaving L35.

Flexibility ? the ability to say ?no, I don?t have to be home tonight, I can spend it elsewhere and make it home the next morning? is the key to using these airplanes. Plan for contingencies; don?t put imaginary obstacles in the way of making a good decision. Sure, my overnight stop in this case was free because we had our own place to stay. But hey, there are some really comfortable airport couches out there too. Better than getting beat up and spit out by a mean and nasty atmosphere. My total flight time for the weekend ended up to be about fourteen hours in the most personal airplane I have ever flown ? a wonderful way to see the country ? and my sweetie!

Paul
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  #2  
Old 10-01-2013, 01:03 AM
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rv7boy rv7boy is offline
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Great report, Paul.

I was sweating a planned trip to Oshkosh several years ago because of a weak front coming across my intended path, creating IMC. An old-timer at the airport suggested I fly part of the way in the afternoon, spend the night "on the road," allowing the front to pass, and then fly into Oshkosh the next day. His plan worked beautifully.

You and he must have had the same "lessons learned."
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  #3  
Old 10-01-2013, 06:57 AM
dealfair dealfair is offline
 
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Default Spot On!

Absolutely Paul. These sweet little aluminum carpets provide us with wonderful options. I'm very appreciative of having one.

Cheers to all,
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  #4  
Old 10-01-2013, 07:19 AM
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GLPalinkas GLPalinkas is offline
 
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As usual, great story and good, safe travel. I have one to put together when I get back from Ohio. These really are magic carpets and I try to use it wisely like you.
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  #5  
Old 10-01-2013, 07:28 AM
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Skykingbob Skykingbob is offline
 
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Default Great story!

Enjoyed the post Paul!!!!
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  #6  
Old 10-01-2013, 07:40 AM
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Jerry Fischer Jerry Fischer is offline
 
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Default Nice...

Excellent write-up Paul,
The Grand Canyon is on my Bucket list for the RV1. Just finished the left wing fuel cell. Should be testing today for fuel integrity. Install, and other maint. items to be completed this weekend. hopefully back in the air with the "Mocking Bird" by next week!!
Blue Skies to you and Louise my friends,
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  #7  
Old 10-01-2013, 08:15 AM
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bhassel bhassel is offline
 
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Nice travel story Paul. Great to go across half a continent!

I gotta keep pulling those rivets...

Bob
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  #8  
Old 10-01-2013, 09:07 AM
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Paul, you said you were building an airport home in Nevada. Where about ?
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  #9  
Old 10-01-2013, 09:52 AM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoN4Broke View Post
Paul, you said you were building an airport home in Nevada. Where about ?
A34 - Dayton Valley Airpark, just east of Carson City
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Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
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  #10  
Old 10-01-2013, 10:21 AM
snoop9erdog snoop9erdog is offline
 
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Default SJN

Paul,

Next time your in my hood give me a shout and i'll have you inspect the 9. The offer still stands for some good old fasion mexican food too.
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