A aviation & planes forum. AviationBanter

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » AviationBanter forum » rec.aviation newsgroups » Piloting
Site Map Home Register Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

PIREP: Grand Canyon Caverns (L37)

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old November 1st 03, 12:11 AM
Tony Cox
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a
Default PIREP: Grand Canyon Caverns (L37)

One of the joys of living in the Las Vegas area is the
exceptional flying conditions we mostly get in the fall. Lower
temperatures, a clear sky, and a general lack of turbulence
allow you can take off for an entire day of flying fun with
even the most timid passenger. Not all the time, of course,
since the last few days have been windy, bumpy, and
visibility 3SM courtesy of the CA forest fires. But mostly.

My friend and I took off from Boulder City mid-morning
in beautiful conditions & headed out over Black Canyon,
where the Colorado river cuts south after leaving the Hoover
Dam. The view south is spectacular, with lake Mojave widening
out as the river heads off to the gulf of California. The low-lying
lands around the lake and the mountains of Bullhead City in the
distance shrouded in the morning mist seem like something out
of Middle Earth.

Across the river, we climb up over the mountains to the east
covered with some of the largest Joshua trees I've seen and
then descend over Red Lake - a 10 mile wide dry lake bed some
30 miles north of Kingman. There seems to be a perpetual NOTAM
out for parachute jumping over the dry lake, but once again I'm
at a loss to see either planes, parachutes, or the expected supporting
ground paraphernalia. Scooting south, we fly over the 'road' which
leads up to Meadview and the marinas at the upriver arm of
Lake Mead. Flying IFR (I follow roads), we join old route 66
as it starts its gentle ascent up to the high plateau which makes up
most of the south rim of the grand canyon.

It seems proper to keep to the right of the road. Where did that
come from? Don't know, but it seems natural & if everyone did
it, there'd be little chance of mid-airs. And you can keep your
emergency landing areas in sight in what is rapidly becoming some
wild terrain. We pass over the small town of Valentine and some
obviously fine houses. What do these people *do* out there? Is
gold mining so profitable?

Climbing still, we follow the railroad which diverges from the
highway proper. Clearly a sign of some rugged terrain, as it
twists and turns, but it doesn't look so bad from 2000 AGL.
We comfortably beat the 4-engine mile-long train, as it wends
its way up to the highlands at 5mph.

Grand Canyon Caverns airport is close to the road and not
too hard to spot. Not surprising, really, since the caverns
and the airport are the only things for miles. The airport
diagram boasts a wind sock, but neither of us can see it.
Undaunted, we circle and join the crosswind for runway 5.
The runway is gravel, 5000' or so, and supposedly 45'
across. Landing to the north, we make a smooth touchdown
and taxi gingerly to the end of the runway. The 'sock' is
flaccid, with just a little hint of wind from the north. That
must be why I didn't see it from the air. Oh well, next
problem is where, if any, can one stop? The gravel looks
to be flying around a bit, so I keep the yoke fully back &
keep going onto the access road. More gravel
and dirt, so it seems like we're taking a country back road.
Quite a distance, but after about 1/3 mile or so, we come to
an asphalt road, taxi up next to the Laundromat and shut down.
We're the only plane. Everyone else parked there is a car.

A fine fellow, whose name I didn't catch, comes out of the
adjoining motel to greet us & asks if he can take a picture. Sure.
They are collecting fly-in pictures, so make sure your plane is
shiny and clean. He summons a car from the caverns & off we
go. No tiedowns, though, so I'm a little worried to leave the 182.
Into the wind. Brake on. Chocks on wheels. Control lock in.
And all locked up, Cessna style, which involves scrambling
through the baggage door to latch everything before exiting, bum
first, out the back. Wouldn't want to find a swarm of little brats
playing "Biggles" in my plane when I get back.

The caverns themselves (perhaps we should have taxied the
extra 1/2 mile?) are a wonderful 50's style "Roadside
Attraction", complete with plastic dinosaurs greeting visitors.
There's a quite acceptable 'diner style' restaurant inside, and
tours leave for the 'deep' every 1/2 hour or so. So after a
quick 'rest', we're off down the 200' elevator into the heart
of one of the few dry limestone caves in the US. $14.

Although the caverns are nearly 20 miles from the grand canyon,
there is a connection. Apparently, in the 60's, the Core of
Engineers set off some smoke bombs to trace a wind blowing
from one end of the caverns. About 2 days later, smoke was
seen coming from a small hole about 1000' below the south rim.
No one has navigated there themselves, so who knows how big
the passage is.

Why were the CofE down there? Well, it appears that in the 60's
it became a designated fallout shelter, complete with food stocks
for 2 weeks for 2000 people. The food drums are still there,
together with (now stagnant) water, and apparently only three
toilet rolls. The thought of 2000 people, presumably all
politicians, groveling around in the dark after the emergency
batteries give out, trying to remember which barrels had already
been used as a bathroom and which still contained food, while
fighting over the last remaining toilet tissue brings a smile to my
face. We proceed through the caverns to the old entrance.

Apparently, the original discovery was made by a fellow who fell
down a hole from the plateau above. The hole has been filled in
since the discovery, at the request of the Hualapi Indians who
'accidentally' once used it to bury a comrade who fell ill whilst
hunting. But in the distant past, a (now extinct) giant sloth fell in
there too, couldn't get out, and left scratch marks and part of a
claw in the rock.

Back in daylight, we hitch a ride with another fine person (wish
I could remember her name) back to the plane.
The whole site now has new owners, and one of the owners
is a pilot. They have great plans. An 'old town', with cabins
without electricity or TV,. all for rent. And they plan to pave
the runway on the cheap. Well, I suppose paving 5000x45'
would run some $200K or so. They are proposing to do a
deal with the local drag racers where they get to pave it and
use it some of the time. Not sure how that would work. I
guess the planes would have to just merge in with the dragster
traffic and hope that the wind was in the right direction....

So back to the plane, which is now in a car park with far
more cars than when we left. Bah! What's that I see? Rugrats!
Oh well, we carefully preflight,. checking especially for sticky
fingers and slobber. In we climb, and wait for the house ape
minders to round the little buggers up. "Clear Prop"! This
time I mean it and am especially careful not to make a
mess on the prop with some potential little lawsuit

Back along the windy road we taxi, and onto a concrete runup
area at the approach end of 23. That's good. We check
everything out & then start a soft-field departure roll. With thick
gravel and a 7500' density altitude, it takes a couple of thousand
feet to get airborne. Have to be a bit nimble on the feet as the
nosewheel comes up early & there is a slight crosswind. The
sock is now semi-turgid. Fortunately, we got to land to the north
and depart to the south, otherwise, it would be a long taxi down
to or up from the takeoff/rollout spot.

The afternoon brings with it a few minor bumps, but we're soon
above most of it and on our way over Peach Springs. I open
the flight plan with Prescott FSS for the short but desolate
trip back to Boulder City. Past Peach Springs VOR -- easy to
find in the middle of a broad plane with the grand canyon to
the north -- it's like falling off the side of a mountain as the
terrain drops rapidly some 3000' to Red Lake again. Come
to think of it, it's exactly like falling off the side of a mountain.
We take the northerly route, scooting just south of Temple Bar
marina on the south side of Lake Mead. Then, a short hop
over the Colorado again and we're home. No nicks on the
prop. No body parts either. I'd call that a success.

So that's why I fly. How did you spend your Sunday?

Dr. Tony Cox
Citrus Controls Inc.

Old November 1st 03, 02:05 AM
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

("Tony Cox" wrote)
nice story snipped
So that's why I fly. How did you spend your Sunday?

Apple orchard and then a model train show, with the 6 year old (airport
loving) nephew.

Your Sunday sounded nice too :-)


Old November 1st 03, 04:04 AM
Jay Honeck
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

So that's why I fly. How did you spend your Sunday?

Fabulous PIREP, Tony.

Thanks for sharing it.
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
"Your Aviation Destination"

Old November 2nd 03, 08:48 AM
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Tony Cox wrote:

So that's why I fly. How did you spend your Sunday?

Actually, my flying day was Saturday. Flew the 182 to the
Utah Back Country Pilot's fly in at Mineral Canyon (I'll
post some pictures).

Here is an adventure which is now a few weeks old...


Skylane '1MM
Pacer '00Z
Old November 2nd 03, 12:54 PM
Jay Honeck
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Here is an adventure which is now a few weeks old...


Some of the links didn't work for me, but it sure sounds like a great
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
"Your Aviation Destination"


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Approach Plates on PDA (PIREP) Stan Prevost Instrument Flight Rules 10 December 18th 04 04:21 AM
PIREP for DG purchase please Roger Long Owning 8 April 1st 04 09:01 PM
McFarlane flap rollers - PIREP please Roger Long Owning 3 November 3rd 03 10:04 PM
Surecheck TrafficScope Pirep? Marco Leon Owning 30 October 21st 03 02:44 PM
Surecheck TrafficScope Pirep? Marco Leon Piloting 20 October 13th 03 03:39 PM

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 06:40 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2022 AviationBanter.
The comments are property of their posters.