North Las Vegas - Furnace Creek (April 2009)

Date of flight 23 Apr 2009
From KVGT - North Las Vegas Airport (NV)
To L06 - Furnace Creek Airport (elevation -210 ft) (CA)
Aircraft N686US (DA40)

I rented the DA40 for a flight from Las Vegas North to Death Valley and back during the late afternoon, scheduled to return before sunset in Las Vegas. Renting the aircraft is easy, checking the papers and off you go. But you first have to do at least an hour check flight with an instructor, or take a safety pilot with you for the trip. I chose the latter one, far cheaper and more convenient to have someone familiar with the area.


Aircraft check

N686US cockpit

Garmin class cockpit

The route to Death Valley was planned south of Mt. Charleston (11,916 feet) at LF110.The climb out of Las Vegas was horrible, less then 500ft/min due to a strong down-wash wind from the mountains till we reached 8000 ft. Traffic control was very kind and provided me continuously with radar vectors, even I did not ask for ! A service you would never get in Europe.

Above the 8000 ft we climbed 1500 ft/min to FL110. Traffic control cleared me once out of controlled airspace and I could start my scenic flight over the desert that brought me to Death Valley.

I broke my personal record .... flying at FL110.

Once you crossed the desert at FL110 you come over the valley, where I had to descend 11.000 ft into the valley. I decided to go left to go overhead Badwater and then cross the valley till Furnace Creek.

I went overhead Furnace Creek to take a look at the wind strength and direction .... the wind hose showed a strong wind! Indeed, a landing with approximately 40 kts headwind resulted in a touch and stop within a few meters.

I broke a second personal record ... landing at -210 ft and a third one ... landing with a 40 kts headwind.

L06 Furnace Creek airport

L06 - Furnace Creek airport

Death Valley

Dive into Death Valley

Death Valley low pass

Low pass through Death Valley

N686US at L06 Furnace Creek

40 kts headwind !

We tightened the aircraft and walked 5 minutes to Furnace Creek for a drink before the return flight.

Departure was as funny as the landing. Full throttle, releasing the brake, and once rolling we just needed a few meters before we could lift from the ground. I decided to start a spiral climb to stay away from the cliffs and avoid a possible down-wash wind to reach 11.000 ft.



The return route was planned north of Mt. Charleston and south of Area 51. A large corridor that brought me straight back to Las Vegas.

Traffic control was very kind, just proceed and once entered downwind I was immediately cleared to land.

Approach KVGT

Las Vegas Tower, N686US, request  landing permission
Tower: '86US Runway 25R in use, you are number 1, cleared to land'

Final approach KVGT

In Final,
grab the camera and 'click'



Nice souvenirs from the Death Valley.
Thanks for this unforgettable trip !