Meeting Sam in Vegas (2004)

The legendary Sam Pottle was in Las Vegas for one of their backgammon tournaments, and Brenda and I went out to see him and take him on a little hop.

Santa Monica (SMO) to North Las Vegas (VGT)

VGT terminal I've made the flight out to Las Vegas a couple times, and this was an especially nice day for it. Visibilities were unrestricted and the sun was shining. Last time I met Sam in Vegas there was really too much summer turbulence to give him a good ride, but today promised to be warm without being terribly turbulent.

The trip itself was pretty much as written except that when we arrived into the Vegas Class B they actually vectored us as on the chart. When I've been there before they gave us other vectors over McCarran itself. The route they gave us showed us a less spectacular view of the strip, which was too bad.

North Las Vegas is a great little airport to come into, and they were friendly and helpful as usual, despite some construction.

North Las Vegas (VGT) to St. George, UT (SGU)

Utah One of the goals of the trip was to give Sam a chance to fly with us, so we picked a lunch destination that let us stretch our wings a little. It was about an hour out to St. George, Utah, which is barely across the Nevada line (and the Arizona line as well) and that seemed a good spot.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of flying over the American West. The terrain is starkly forbidding and heart-stoppingly beautiful. Our trip gave just a tiny taste of what's to be seen, and it was still very satisfying.

While we were up I let Sam take the controls for a little while and do a couple turns and poke around a little. No landings. He did a good job.

Even if you don't fly to St. George, the restaurant on the field is worth visiting. The airport is on a high mesa above the town and overlooks both the town and some of the spectacular Utah terrain. On days like the one we visited it's tough to eat because your jaw keeps dropping at the scenery.

St. George, UT (SGU) to North Las Vegas (VGT)

Utah After finishing off our meal, we walked around the airport grounds, but didn't head down into the city. The descent was pretty forbidding. We did get to shoot the breeze a fair amount. I'm still looking forward to catching up with Sam again when he returns.

The trip back to Las Vegas was pretty routine flying wise. We dropped Sam at the terminal, fueled up and filed IFR home. Basically after we got turned around it was night, and a night trip through busy airspace like this in mountainous terrain is just easier with ATC looking out for you.

North Las Vegas (VGT) to Santa Monica (SMO)

Unlike last time I flew out of VGT at night, we departed well before the tower closed, which made coordination much easier. The flight home was smooth and pleasent. Brenda discovered that the beacons at military airports say “back off” at night. A fun trip.

Brenda took some pictures.

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