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Red Rum! Red Rum!

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Oct. 19th, 2014 | 08:31 pm

Halloween is fast approaching and with the theme of The Shining showing the writing of "Red Rum" on a mirror really reflecting the letters in reverse really spelling "murder" (with a free space for those who like shiny free things) that's been a popular meme used in everything from The Simpson's to shows that aren't funny.

Today I did not have anything to do with Red Rum, murder, Rum of any color, but I did have a good time at Red Rock! Red Rock Canyon is a national conservation area with unique and gorgeous red rocks, statuesque mountains of tall strong rock, and today at least one helicopter overflying.

I've been flying since October 30th, 2008. This is almost the six-year milepost, and through these years I've come to North Las Vegas Airport many times. I last did my commercial checkride here in April 2014. Throughout my many flights, I've seen many places like Hoover Dam, the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, Lake Meade, Lake Havasu, etc. One of the places recommended to me is the Red Rock area... but I've never scheduled the flight to have someone show me the points of interest.

This time was different. I communicated with Brian from 702 Helicopters and let him know I would be in town and wanted to fly. He always has multiple helicopters available and we agreed that I could take N441JL, a Robinson R44 Raven I. Since I wanted someone to point out sights (and sites) he assigned Chris [Witter?] to fly with me at 0830.

I went to sleep at 2030, trying to get a full night's sleep. It was fitful (you try going to bed at 2030!) but I made it to 0700. Nice hot shower, coffee from the coffeeshop, and I was enroute to the airport early. The sun was in my eyes which reminded me that while I brought the FAA-required glasses (20/25 in my left eye means no FAA Second-Class medical certificate without it) I had no cap with a visor to shield my eyes.

I stoped at the 99 cent olnly store up the road and bought a red and white baseball cap. It went swimmingly with my red T-shirt. I then pulled up to the shop by which time (0829) Chris had already pulled N441JL to the ramp.

I parked, went in, came back to get my phone, went in, and we talked about the flight goals: have fun. See the sights. Identify the sites and reporting points. Get me comfortable with operating in the practice area(s). See Red Rock. Possibly take pictures. IMG_20141019_093726

The helicopter had 7 gallons of fuel from the previous night. Chris pulled the fuel trailer over and pumped in a full main fuel tank. That gave us 2 hrs of flight time. I went through the preflight check sequence and found nothing abnormal Chris didn't already know about. Sampled fuel, checked main-rotor hub/blades and we were ready to go. The startup checklist is home-brew and there are differences between it and the Robinson Pilot's Operating Handbook. I pointed them out to Chris from memory.

On this aircraft today there was an issue with the caburator temperature inlet gage showing high. Chris says it settles down in flight. The temperature/dew-point spread was 21C and therefore this was not a factor so I paid it no attention. On the carb-heat check I listened for engine roughness and reduced RPMs and was satisfied carb-heat assist works. Trivia question: was the aircraft worthy despite not having a working carb inlet temperature indicator? (My answer: Yes. Not on the required minimum equipment list and the POH controls what is required. However in a situation where carb heat IS indicated or close it would be stupid to fly without a working gage UNLESS pulling full carb heat at all times. The gage is of no value below 18" MAP, in which case you pull full carb heat. So if you commit to always full carb heat, the gage is irrelevant. The 22C spread today plus no visible moisture made this point moot.) I'm very pro-safety and not anti-authority. If carb heat was indicated we'd have flown with full carb heat and on pickup hover power check would have made a go/no-go decision.

I did spend some time on this because it wasn't a "simple decision". It was one involving all these factors and it was taken with full cognizance of what it means. I also discussed with Chris the Honolulu R22 crash where in my opinion the pilot failed to properly handle carb heat; her mechanic "friend" came up with a fanciful story; the FAA declined to send anyone out to verify the story; and in the end some schmo had his car plowed into by this pilot. These things do not do well to engender a respect for our industry. I am not going to be that guy (or girl).

Chris agreed. We were on the same page. We got Northtown ATIS information Alpha, called Tower, and went off on our merry way.

I'll complete this writeup (which requires finding lots of map links) shortly. So I don't forget:

- west departure, maintain 2900 or less prior to crossing the highway (US95?)
- Calico Bowl?
- Retention Basin
- southern practice area vs northern practice area
- Lone Mountain
- Red Rock
- Red Rock Visitor Center
- (something?) springs
- Blue Diamond Mine
- cool mountain fixtures, passes, pinnacles
- class Bravo shelves, minimums, physical points of demarcation to watch for

Flew over The JW Marriott where there was an Octoberfest bier garten set up on the lawn

Also notes:
- doors on
- perfect temperature (73F starting 83F ending but good times)
- perfect approach to landing pad
- rocking skids
- one of the coms failed weirdly

More when I get to it.


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