Monday, October 31, 2005

What happens in Vegas...Stays in Vegas

Sunday the 30th - Well, after a long flight out (1-hour hold at KPHL for navigational problems) we finally headed to the big "D". Yep, Dallas not a happy place for Eagles fans, but hey I'm a PACKER fan at heart so I was ok. American had our flight rebooked and with a minimum layover and we were headed to Vegas!A short haul to the Bellagio and to get unpacked. Mary and I were on the 11th floor with a view to the west for some great sunsets and we got to see the Rio Casino lights at night. We also had a great view to the south, overlooking the pools and the west side of the strip. Sunday night we also took in a show, Howie Mandell, what a riot. No late first night for me I had a flight out of North Las Vegas the next morning so I turned in. Heck, after thinking about it we were up at 4:30 out east and were finally hitting the hay at midnight in Vegas......I was tired!

We are both up early on the 31st, in anticipation of Mary's first flight with me. We got a taxi to North Las Vegas and had breakfast in Lenards Airport Café. Pretty neat place, signatures from pilots all over the country that were in there. They even had a special wall for the ninety-nines (the lady PIC's). There was a good view of the apron and it seemed to be a busy place. The eats were really good and service was great, we both highly recommend the stop. After a great morning breakfast we had a short walk to the flight school (West Air). Once inside I went through all the paperwork and was ready to go. Our flight was a demo flight /lesson. Mike Matthews was the appointed instructor and we going out in a 2002 Cessna 172 SP. Preflights completed Mary climbed in the aircraft first and buckled in. Mike and I saddled up and I finished with the checklists I then made my call to ground but not over the air. My first time in
class B so I went through the motions and Mike handled the radio. It proved to be a good learning experience. After our run up we were No. 2 in line behind a twin then I had to wait for a Twin Otter to land before I could taxi into position and hold. It was a dead calm day, clear as can be, perfect for Mary's maiden flight with me. We were off in no time, minding the noise abatement departure and heading out through the Showboat departure designated on the chart. I picked out my landmarks, the stratosphere restaurant, the Vegas strip, Lava Butte, Lake Mead I wanted to know where I was at all times. Traffic was busy, McCarren had Jets non-stop my whole flight and the helicopter traffic was even busier! I found myself performing alot of clearing manuvers and rolling the wings to get a clear view prior to each course change/correction. MAry was clicking away, eating up the pictures as we flew. Mike said I made a nice smooth take off and good coordinated flight which made for a comfortable ride. I'm not sure who had a bigger grin the whole time, me or the bride. We flew over the Hoover Dam and
took some really nice shots and also took a few pictures of the proposed bridge construction that is ongoing. Can't take the Engineer out of the boy to easy!

We made our way back towards VGT with Mike pointing out sights along the way. Off in the distance after clearing Lava Butte at our 2 o' clock was Nellis AFB and just beyond that was the NASCAR facility. Traffic was busy as we passed the Stratosphere and I made my way to enter the downwind at a 45. Ater acknowledging instructions to squak 1200 as we entered the box the VGT tower gave us hell for doing so. After an understood, we were directed to do so we confirmed our downwind extension and would await our call for our base turn. The controller then said he wasn't sure why she told us to squawk that but confirmed that she did. Nothing else was said, it was to busy to yap on the radio. Finally got the call for my base turn after all other traffic cleared. We were turning final now and I was adding my last notch of flaps. Home in sight and my numbers looked good. Mary looked happy and I know I needed to make theis a good landing. I didn't want to scare her the first time up. No cross wind today so it really felt good. Nice and smooth, holding it off, Mike tells me don't let it down yet, hold it off we have alot of runway. I'm thinking I have 3300x50 feet at home, but ok.........VGT runway 12R is 5000 x 75 its like a holiday! Nice flair and nice landing I could not have asked for anything better. Mary had a big smile and I was still wearing that perma-grin too. We taxied to our tie down and I secured the aircraft. I hope the next time out we are renting by ourselves and we will plan a few hops to places of interest. All in all a great first flight for Mary and together we really enjoyed the flight. Thanks to Mike and West Air !!

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