by Charles Gulick
Bryce Canyon, UT to Page, AZ
Scenery Disk 3.
North: 16283. East: 8437. Altitude: 7587. Pitch: 0. Bank: 0.
Heading: 180. Airspeed: 0. Throttle: 0. Rudder: 32767.
Ailerons: 32767. Flaps: 0. Elevators: 32767.
Time: 10:00. Cloud Layer 1: 12000, 10000.
Wind Level 3: 6 kn., 90 deg. Wind Level 2: 6 kn., 90 deg.
Wind Level 1: 4 kn., 180 deg. Surface Wind: 4 kn., 180 deg.
It's a good thing the overcast is way up there, because you're already above 7500 feet and haven't even left the ground.
Get out your Las Vegas sectional, and place a straightedge so it intersects the Bryce Canyon OMNI and the northernmost tip of Lake Powell, which is the body of water depicted east and a bit south of Bryce Canyon. Remembering that the VOR needle points to magnetic north, eyeball a heading to fly from here to that little needlenose of water.
Get set and take off on Runway 21. You will need considerably more runway than usual, and don't bother rotating until you have about 100 KIAS—the aircraft won't take off until it's ready.
Climb straight out to 8000 feet; then turn to your estimated heading, and continue climbing to a cruise altitude of 9500. Again, because this is high country, you will need more than your standard climb power to hold your rate at 500 FPM. We'll be cruising just 500 feet under the overcast, so be sure to maintain your altitude or you'll be flying into clouds instead of under them.
It's not so easy to operate at this altitude, is it? If you were paying attention to your scan, you noticed that you were descending instead of climbing at some stages of your takeoff.
Take a look back at Bryce Canyon once you're on your heading.
Do whatever you have to do to maintain a 500-FPM climb until you level off at 9500 to 9600 feet. (If you had an afterburner, this would be a time to turn it on, wouldn't it?)
Go a little easy on your engine, that is, use trim to cruise with something less than full power.
Before very long, you'll be rewarded for your work, because out ahead of you (assuming you selected a heading of about 90 degrees) a scenic waterscape is taking shape. When you see it out the windshield, you'll also be able to see it on radar, using a very high-altitude view. You'll see 1-15, too, many miles behind you.
Keep the tip of Lake Powell straight ahead. Things will remain quite fixed for a while as you fly. The distances are great up here. Sometimes only your clock will tell you that time is really passing and you're really moving.
Since we're going to take a scenic route, with Page Airport our ultimate destination, we might as well tune the Page OMNI now and see how far we are from there. Don't expect the DME to show any rapid changes, though; you're definitely not flying toward the station, but just along the rim.
Keep checking radar and adjusting it to include all of the water on the display. That will give you an idea of how large Lake Powell is.
You're flying toward Glen Canyon National Recreation Area—the point at which the Escalante River and the Coyote Wash empty into Lake Powell, which is itself fed by the Colorado River flowing down from far north. Keep correcting your course to keep the point, which soon appears as the sharp edge of a wedge, right off the nose of the plane.
Once you no longer see the tip, start a descent to 7000 feet (begin by taking off the up trim you used to get to this altitude), and follow the contours of the lake, which is really a river, staying midway between its banks; we'll track the water all the way from here to Page Airport.
If the water and the earth to either side look pretty close at 8000 feet, it's because they are.
Use radar to keep track of your position, and be sure you are flying over the main body of the lake toward its southernmost point, which is where Page Airport is. Your heading will change frequently. As you pass some of the wild arms that reach out to either side, be sure to look out your side windows and see the vistas.
At some point, when you're heading in the southwest quadrant, Page Airport will suddenly materialize in front of you. As you can see from your sectional, there's just one strip there, 15/33. Field elevation is 4310, so you will need to start your descent immediately. Use a pattern altitude of 5300 feet.
Decide from your weather information on which runway you'll land. Then decide how you will approach it. You may want to plan a steeper than normal descent to get into desirable configuration, or get into slowflight and extend your flaps sooner. But do what you have to do. Fly the airplane in. It's coffee time.