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Monday, May 6, 2013

Trip Planning

There's a big spring conference coming up in two weeks in Las Vegas.  I've attended nearly every one for the past 18 years (I missed 2000 because I was living in England at the time).  This is "Wireless 2013", put on by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, or CTIA.  Insiders usually refer to it at "CTIA", not by its official name.

CTIA 2013™ Logo

Normally I go representing my employer, to put on an exhibit, meet with customers, or speak in a "track", a series of presentations about some burning topic of the moment. Since I'm currently unemployed, I'll be representing myself, using my network to help find that next opportunity, and using my airplane to get there and back on my schedule and my terms.

From North Dallas to Las Vegas is slightly over 1,000nm direct, taking a few minutes more than 6 hours at 162 kts average ground speed.  But I won't be doing that for several reasons.  My V-tailed Bonanza holds 80 gallons in 2 tanks, 40 in each wing, but 6 gallons are unusuable and shouldn't be counted on, and I need to leave at least 30 minutes (VFR) or 45 minutes plus time to an alternate (IFR).  I normally plan on 1 hour reserve fuel at 15 gallons an hour, meaning I have 18 gallons unusable for planning purposes.  I can only plan on burning 62 gallons, or slightly over 4 hours before I have to refuel.

I'm getting older and need more of what are euphemistically known as "comfort stops".  My bladder range is between 2 and 3 hours, 2 being comfortable and 3 not. I've tried using various implements to take care of this in the air, but for some deep psychological reason it doesn't work for me.  So since I have to stop anyway, I generally try to plan legs at about 2.25 to 2.75 hrs with 3 hours being the maximum.  I fill up with fuel at each stop, so as one tank empties, the others are filling.  I'm never weight limited in the Bonanza, the limit to how much I can carry is usually based on the rear CG limit.  I can carry my wife Sally, Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the back, full fuel and about 80 lbs in the rear baggage compartment, leaving some 300 lbs of gross weight capability unavailable.

The service ceiling for the V35A Bonanza, according to the POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook) is 17,000 ft.  My real world operating ceiling, since I don't carry oxygen, is 14,000 ft for 30 minutes duration, or 12,500 ft indefinitely, in accordance with FAR part 91.211. I could carry an oxygen bottle with a cannula (that leaky tube they put under your nose in a hospital) to use the full range of altitudes, but the airplane performance goes down substantially after 12,000 ft, and I don't think it's worth the extra expense and complexity.  If I had a turbocharged or supercharged engine that could provide full power into the high teens and 20's, that would be different.  A straight line direct route from Dallas to Las Vegas would go over some pretty high terrain, with mountains over 10,000 feet.  My route will avoid anything over 8,000 feet.

Taking all of this into account, I'm choosing a route over El Paso and Phoenix.  It will add about 30 minutes, but the direct route, if I could fly high enough, would be in stronger headwinds, so the penalty isn't too bad at all.  I can expect better winds lower down.  

First leg: T31 (AeroCountry) direct to KPEQ (Pecos TX), 2 hours and 34 minutes, plus a few minutes of vectoring by DFW Approach.  Pecos has reasonably priced fuel, and the direct route doesn't go through any restricted airspace.

Second leg: KPEQ to E60 (Eloy Municipal), 2 hours and 55 minutes.  That's the long leg, and will go via the El Paso (EWM), Deming (DMN) and San Simon (SSO) VORs.  The reason for that route is that it avoids the military operations areas (MOAs) and most of the high ground, passing over Bassett Peak (7,660 feet MSL), the highest point of the the whole route.

Third Leg: E60 to Henderson, NV (KHND), 1 hour 40 minutes.  This leg needs some planning.  I'm thinking of going via the PXR (Phoenix) VOR, the MAIER intersection and Drake (DRK) VOR, because a route directly over the main airport would be least disruptive to the constant airline traffic approaching PHX from the East or West, especially if I can be up at 8 to 10,000 feet before South Mountain, a point commonly used by aircraft on a visual approach to Skyharbor.  It is relatively direct, with two nearly 7,000 ft peaks along the way.  There is a more direct route over low ground, but it has several MOAs along the way, and no planned airways - unlike the route I selected.  I doubt I would get ATC approval.

Altogether, this route avoids the highest mountains, has stops reasonably spaced, with good fuel availability, and covers 1,060 nm, only 50 more than direct.  And I get to fly my own airplane!

1 comment:

Karlene Petitt said...

This sounds like a wonderful trip! And I know you are going to find a fabulous opportunity. Best of luck. And take lots of pictures of your journey!!