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Temple Bar, Arizona

27-28 OCT 2018

A flight from North Las Vegas to a dirtstrip in Arizona and back

I had my FAA PPL, my tailwheel endorsement and the plane was back in North Las Vegas. Now I wanted to fly it. But my job kept me busy. Living in Germany, I didn't have the time to travel to the USA, just to go flying there. So I tried to do it in crew layovers. They typically last 24 hours (east coast) and 48 hours (west coast). My employer doesn't fly to Las Vegas and 24 hours are not sufficient to commute, so I requested duty flights to the west coast. October 26th, I flew an A340-600 from MUC to SFO, checked into the crew hotel and left it after some hours of sleep on the 27th at 4 AM to catch the first flight from SFO to LAS. Standby, of course. Regular flights out of SFO are expensive.

Two weeks after I had parked N5581M coming from Oregon, I was back, flying my 140. It was, as I left it. I had tried to have a mechanic in VGT look after the electrical problem, but he didn't have time. This is always an issue. Finding an A&P who actually has time to work on your plane. Only the new Concorde battery had meanwhile arrived. I installed it and knew it was fully charged. Starting the engine was no problem. But I knew the generator isn't charging the battery, so the number of engine starts are limited. My time was limited too. Not later than 24 hours after arriving in Las Vegas, I better start trying getting back to SFO, in order to get some rest prior to flying the Airbus back on duty to MUC.

Leaving North Las Vegas, I flew to Perkins (U08). 30 minute flight time. I knew Perkins from my PPL training flights 3 months ago. Refueled there, because I knew, there will not be any fuel at my next stop: Temple Bar. Already in Arizona. The Colorado river is the border between Nevada and Arizona. Construction of Hoover dam in the 1930s led to the creation of Lake Mead, Arizona starts just south of Lake Mead. 30 minute flight from Perkins. Temple Bar is a neglected airstrip serving a very small and remote community serving people boating on Lake Mead. Circled the airport a few times and did low approaches to check the runway state. Nobody was there.

Runway was in a bad shape, concrete had cracks. It has a significant slope, so better do your final approach uphill coming from the lake. Apron was cracked too, but I even found some chains for tie down.

Beside cracked concrete and chains, there was no airport infrastructure. No buildings. No fence. Just this sign, indicating the existence of an airstrip to the non-flying public. Walked 30 minutes through the desert down to the lake's boat ramp. Not much there either. A shop and a saloon were open. Everything looks depressing, because the lake's water level is so low. There was never much water in the Southwest, but in the last decades the Colorado had less water, than at the time, when Hoover dam was built and until about 25 years ago. I remember these places from 1990, when the lake was full and many people were boating.

Stayed the night in my tent. Nobody at the campground either, paying is a trust / honor system. October 28th, I got up early and walked back up to the Airstrip.

Was happy, when the battery started the engine. I have no idea, how many times a fully charged Concorde starts a C90, but my experience is, three times is no problem. Plan was to fly back to VGT and not trying to find out on another remote airstrip, if the engine would start a fourth or fifth time. Due to the runway slope, I took off downhill, towards the lake. Luckily, there wasn't much wind. I didn't want to fly directly back to Vegas. Instead I initially headed south.

Crossed below the east-westbound sightseeing traffic from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. Lots of helicopter tour operators. It is soooo nice to see all this traffic and it is frightening to realize how much traffic you miss, when only looking outside.

Triangle Private (AZ50) was just a waypoint, I didn't land there. After passing it, I continued westbound.

Crossing the Colorado south of Hoover dam, looking south. Lake Mohave in the background.

After passing this solar power plant south of Las Vegas I contacted Vegas Approach and they cleared me into the Las Vegas airspace Bravo (called TCA in the 1990s), so I continued northbound.

Overflying Las Vegas Mc Carran airport. Least disturbing for airliners, if you directly overfly the busy airport.

The famous Las Vegas strip with all the huge casinos is just north of Mc Carren, but still south of downtown.

North of downtown, the North Las Vegas airport appears. First time I approached it from the south.

Parked the plane, took an Uber back to Mc Carren and flew to SFO and further on duty to MUC. All worked fine. This was not always the case. I managed to get the generator overhauled by my A&P, but I didn't manage to fly again for another 8 months. Three attempts stalled. In December 2018, I wanted to do it during a MEX layover, but I found out, that crews are not allowed to leave Mexico during layover. In January 2019, I made it to Las Vegas, but the weather was too bad for the planned flight to Phoenix and the plane had an issue with the left brake. In Mid-March, I was back at North Las Vegas and even sitting in my plane, when I recalled that in the US 3/5 means March 5th and not the 3rd of May. The plane was out-of-annual, so I couldn't fly. Flying N5581M had to wait until July 2019.

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