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Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 16: Western Half of the USA – Part 1

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JJ Meehan
The Meehan Family

N1976JJ is a Beechcraft Duchess.  It has a two 180 HP engines with a cruise speed of 145 KTs.   Wathan Flying Service was one of two FBO’s on the Cedar Rapids, Iowa USA airport.  I started flying charters for them part time with the request that all my earnings be put into an account that would be used to purchase aircraft time.  This allowed me to use several different aircraft over the six years that I worked for them.

During the summer of 1985, my Certified Flight Instructor License was up for renew.  You need to attend a seminar or go to the FAA and take a renew test to keep your License.  This year, I decided to pull out a map and throw a dart at the map to determine where I would go to get my license renewed.  The dart selected Reno, Nevada USA.  I decided to use the Duchess since it had two engines and if I lost power in one engine I would still have some power to reach a safe landing area.   The Duchess as with most light twins would not be able to maintain altitude but it would give me additional time by reducing the lost of altitude until I could reach safety.

I also added a portable oxygen unit so that I could comfortably fly at higher altitudes over the Rock Mountains.  My family (Jeannie and Jenny) never liked flying in small planes so I arranged for them to fly out to Los Angeles, CA USA for the weekend after I finished my course in Reno, NV USA.

The following is a map of my flight route:

My first stop was Scottsbluff, NE USA.  Flight time was just over 2.5 hours from Cedar Rapids (CID) to Scottsbluff, NE (BFF).  During the light, I started noticing irrigation areas in Nebraska that looked like an UFO had landed.  When I got to Scottsbluff, the green near the city caught my eye.  I tried to capture what I saw in pictures.  Scottsbluff’s elevation is 3,891 FT (1,186 M).  Cedar Rapids is 861 FT (262 M).  I’m not at the base of the Rocky Mountains and will be flying at 12,000 ft (3657.6 m) for the next leg of my trip.

Irrigation areas in Nebraska.

Scottsbluff, Nebraska USA


The next leg of my flight would take be over southern Wyoming.  The mountains in southern Wyoming are beautiful.   I went south of Yellowstone National Park.  Several of the following pictures were taken on another trip that I made to Yellowstone a few years ago.


Old Faithful

Old Faithful

The next stop was Ogden, Utah.  Flight time was 2.0 hours.  This beautiful little town is located between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Salt Lake.  It is so close to the mountains that your approach takes you out over the Great Salt Lake and then back into land at the base of the mountains.  The mountain top 10,000 feet (3052 meters) to the east.  Ogden Utah’s elevation is 4,300 FT (1310 M)

Ogden Utah
Salt Lake, Utah USA


After refueling and getting a small sandwich for lunch to eat on the plane, I was off for Reno, NV.  Flight time was 2 hours and 30 minutes.


Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah

Rocky Mountains in Western Utah and Eastern Nevada


Reno, Nevada is know as “The Biggest Little City in the World.”  The city has a population of 217,091 (approx) and is the fourth most populous city in Nevada. Reno sits in a high desert valley at the foot of the Sierras. Reno borders Sparks, a city with approximately 90,000. Most call the metro area the “Truckee Meadows” and it has a population of about 310,000.  Reno, known as “The Biggest Little City in the World”, is famous for its casinos, and is the birthplace of the gaming corporation Harrah’s Entertainment. City residents are called “Reno-ites”.

This was the place where I decided to renew my Certified Flight Instructors License (CFI).  The Federal Aviation Administration requires that you renew your CFI every two years.  In addition to the three days of classes, I planned another 3 days of relaxing and enjoyment.  Starting with several hours of gambling in the local clubs.  I managed to stay just a few dollars ahead of the house during my stay.   One very interesting item about Nevada is the prostitution is legal.  The Mustang Ranch, originally known as the Mustang Bridge Ranch, was a brothel in Storey County, Nevada, eight miles east of Reno. Under owner Joe Conforte, it became Nevada’s first licensed brothel in 1971, eventually leading to the legalization of brothel prostitution in 10 of 17 counties in the state.  When I was in Reno I will never for get the Intersate 80 State Sign with an arrow pointing to the “Mustang Ranch.



Carson City, Nevada, the capital of Nevada is located about 25 miles south of Reno.



Lake Tahoe is located about 30 miles to the west of Carson City on the border of California.  After spending time in the deserts of Utah and Nevada it really is a very attractive city.




I can remember playing “21” at a table in Harrah’s and watching a stranger walk up and put down $500 for on the space next to mine.  He lost $1,500 in the first 3 deals but won over $5,000 before he left the table in less than 15 minutes.  Later that night I was on the road back to Reno and he passed me in a car with 3 other gentlemen.  They look like they had had a very good day.  I have the feeling they might have been counting cards and were professionals.

Please check out my other blogs on Flying at “FLY HIGH AND FAST”.


Written by jjmeehan13

February 9, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Flying

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