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kaosfere

Real world flight planning in complex airspace

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I was brainstorming interesting flights last night and realized that the lowest aiport in North America (Furnace Creek L06) and the highest (Lake County KLXV) are within a reasonable distance of each other; I thought it would be fun to take a mid-altitude flight between the two in a nice GA plane.   I began doing some flight planning and realized that this would be taking me right into some complicated airspace; I wasn't sure what the "real world" way of handling it would be.

 

Coming out of L06 you are dealing with restricted airspace, MOAs, and the Las Vegas TCA.  My first throught was to start off DCT HIDEN, which takes you south of the restricted areas and gives you the lowest elevation route out of Death Valley.  However, from there, I have a feeling the Las Vegas area controllers wouldn't be too keen on having me putt-putt through their class B if it were avoidable, and I wouldn't want to bank on getting a single engine prop to 10000 in the distance available to overfly it.

 

Assuming VFR conditions at departure, but wanting radar coverage as much as possible, there are a couple possibilities I saw, but I didn't know which would be the most realistic.

 

  • Accept that I'm probably going to be vectored a bit out of the way anyway and make everyone's life easier with something like HIDEN  V135 GFS V8 MMM, but clearly you'd like to avoid that if possible.
  • Depart VFR and fly under the KLAS airspace on the north side of the city, bypassing the bulk of that and as much of the local MOAs as possible, then ask for a pop-up clearance for the rest of my route.   That seems like a long way to ask for a pop-up on, though.
  • Depart VFR and request flight following, hoping you can get it for the bulk of the route, and look for a pop-up clearance if you lose VMC.
  • Go ahead and plot a route direct through KLAS and just allow control to vector you around in whatever way makes sense of them

 

So I'm curious -- which of these would be most likely for a real world pilot to choose, or would it be something else entirely?

 

Thanks!


Rob Jones

Professional Nerd

Park Ridge IL (KORD)

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Furnace Creek,eh? Just the very mention of it brings back memories of being fried there last summer. I did not think anything flew into or out of it.


Rick Almeida

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Furnace Creek,eh? Just the very mention of it brings back memories of being fried there last summer. I did not think anything flew into or out of it.

 

We went there last May, and I absolutely loved it.   That's about as late in the season as I'd want to go, though.

 

(My wife wasn't as keen on it, but she didn't spend years living in south Texas as I did.)

 

According to Airnav, it averaged 29 operations a day in 2013/2014.


Rob Jones

Professional Nerd

Park Ridge IL (KORD)

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Why pop-up clearance? If someone is willing/capable to fly IFR at least part of the route why not the whole route? With IFR clearance you don't have to dodge restricted airspaces and class B, most likely you will be cleared through class B (if you don't like your IFR clearance you can negotiate after takeoff). This is what an IFR pilot would typically do at least if he/she wasn't confident VMC might not be possible all the way through. On the other hand if I had to fly VFR I would go over class B, this is not a very high class B. I would use V105 to fly over class B.

 

Also notice that your flight plan as drawn takes you over a very high terrain just before your destination airport, you must be flying quite capable GA aircraft or you won't make it. This is part of the trip I would be worried about, not about crossing KLAS.


Michael J.

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Looks like an interesting flight to try.

My concern for this flight would be terrain clearance and oxygen requirements more than airspace. As Michael said, if you’re thinking of a popup clearance for the rest of the flight you may as well just file IFR in the first place. Keep in mind though that most of the MEA’s along the route are over 12,500’. If you want to do VFR then you could climb to 11,500’ and just go over the class B, since you’ll need to be above that altitude anyway for terrain clearance on the rest of the route. Heading direct to LAS you have about 75 NM from L06 until you hit the class B so that’s plenty of time to get up to altitude even at 500’ a minute.


Brian W

KPAE, KRNT

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Sorry, I should have clarified that aside from the two VFR options the other two would be filed IFR.   I was looking at the altitudes and had already surmised that ground clearance and oxygen would be something that would need consideration, yeah.   The pop-up clearance would be to allow for "flying under the radar" to get through the congested area in a relatively uncomplicated fashion before going under IFR guidance; I'm not sure how often that's done in real life, and certainly don't think it would be normal for a route of that distance, but it struck me as an option.

 

Clearly the simplest thing to do if capable of IFR would be to file IFR from the start via the obvious route south of the restricted areas and over Las Vegas, and letting ATC handle conflict avoidance, but I'm not sure if that's how it would tend to "really" be done.

 

Thanks for the feedback so far!


Rob Jones

Professional Nerd

Park Ridge IL (KORD)

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That's a nasty detour around south of KLAS, and IFR is not necessarily easier. Consider ATC has to separate you and provide a slot for the flight, etc.

VFR is much simpler usually, and ATC almost always provides clearing (with hand holding) through their terminal zones. Refer to the KLAS terminal charts, I'm sure there are instructions for VFR transits.

Best, Stephan


Stephan

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The pop-up clearance would be to allow for "flying under the radar" to get through the congested area in a relatively uncomplicated fashion before going under IFR guidance;

This doesn't make much sense, flying IFR all the way through is a lot less complicated. Also your plan cuts through the northern part of the class B in such a way that it leaves you very little ground clearance further complicating flying (assuming you don't want to enter class B ) - this is a route I would never personally take from the safety point of view. There is inherent contradiction in your attempt to fly 'under class B' and yet later dodging mountain peaks at close to 14,000 ft. Clearly if you fly in something so capable as to go to Lake County you should have no problem flying over class B. 


Michael J.

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This would be a great VFR flight.  The airspaces and KLAS Class B are easily avoidable and you're definitely going to want to do some sight seeing on this route.  The problem with IFR is if you see something interesting you can't just buzz over and take a peak like you could under VFR.  I would go for option three, pick up flight following around HIDEN and stay to the north of KLAS underneath the A-481 MOA and bravo shelves.  Of course, not too far east of KLAS you would have to have some altitude for terrain clearance so you could just climb over the bravo doing some circles if you had to.


Ryan

 

 

 

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We went there last May, and I absolutely loved it.   That's about as late in the season as I'd want to go, though.

 

(My wife wasn't as keen on it, but she didn't spend years living in south Texas as I did.)

 

According to Airnav, it averaged 29 operations a day in 2013/2014.

You are lucky. I had no option but to go in July, Just kneeling on the salts to compose a photograph was burning enough. But I like the way that little Visitor Center has been maintained, as it gives a perspective, of what it was for those ole timers to have mined there---those were the real pioneers of the 'New World'. I had a lot of respect for them, and their memories. To see all the rusted equipment around was to give an imagination of what a harsh and hard life it must have been. And amidst all this, the lost burro!


Rick Almeida

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