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Monday, November 28, 2011

Leg 3 - The High And The Mighty

Leg 3 - Going where I had never gone before.

After a quick meal at Chili's, I paid for the expensive gas at Cutter, and we loaded up the Mighty Machine.  I called clearance delivery, and proceeded through a comedy sequence with the controller, who started with "ATC clears 40D to Chandler.  After take off, direct MOLLY, V94 to dem----- mush mush something something."  Every time he tried to give me a clearance, someone else started talking in the background and I couldn't hear it.  This happened about 3 or 4 times, until finally he just gave me a squawk code and told me to contact ground for taxi clearance.

Receiving clearance to cross runway 26 Left, I stopped at the hold short line for Runway 08 left, and was cleared for take off - taking off on the same runway I had just landed on, but going the other way.  The Bonanza handled slightly differently at nearly 3,000 foot field altitude, but I was expecting it - a longer take off run, less sprightly initial climb and an engine that needed aggressive leaning to be happy.  I was turned left to 330 degrees and told to contact departure.  I did so, and asked that controller to repeat my clearance.  It was "Direct MOLLY, V94 to Deming VOR (DMN), San Simon (SSO) and Stanfield (TFD) VORs, then direct Chandler, climb and maintain 10,000 feet".  PHEW!  I got this all programmed into the Garmin, and engaged the autopilot, leveling at 10,000 just before reaching MOLLY.

Along the initial part of V94, the mountains west of El Paso safely below, I was advised of opposite direction traffic at 9,000 feet, which turned out to be a De Haviland Dash 8 airliner.  It went past below me with an impressive closing rate - me doing 170 kts, and him over 200.  Cool!

After San Simon, the terrain became a little sporty.  V94 crosses Bassets Peak, with it's peak at 7,666 feet - it feels much closer than 2,334 feet away, let me tell you!  I over-rode the GPS to edge a little to the right where the peak was less "peaky"......  Around this time, ATC called to change my clearance, adding "after Stanfield, V105 to PHX, then direct Chandler", then handed me off to Phoenix approach.

It was starting to get rather twilighty - not yet dark, but on the way.  I really wanted to arrive with daylight remaining - there are lots of mountains around, one of which claimed the lives of 6 people in a Turbo Commander the very next day.   I asked approach for a clearance direct to Chandler, and after a short delay they gave it to me.  So I didn't get as far as Stanfield VOR, instead I headed northwest, descending over the mountain south of Chandler, and was given a visual approach to runway 4L.  But once I was handed over to the tower, they changed my clearance to 04R for traffic, a twin that flew under us in the base to final turn.  Finally aligned with the runway, and still high and fast, I pulled the power way, way back, lifted the nose to slow, and dropped the gear to add drag.  The extra drag took care of my excess speed, and once I was slow enough, I dropped full flaps, and made a picture perfect landing on the runway just as the sun disappeared in the West.

3 legs, 5.7 hours total.  About .6 hours in IMC, all of it IFR, and my first experience of mountain flying.  Not a bad day!

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