Las Vegas's Premier Flying Club - Giving You A Reason to Fly!
Posted by: In: Uncategorized 16 Oct 2021 Comments: 0

By Lauren Scott, DFC CFI

The Experimental Aircraft Association is a non-profit organization made up of a large group of aviation enthusiasts. It is a diverse organization with many local chapters around the world.  Local chapters gather regularly for meetings for camaraderie, education, youth programs such as Young Eagles, scholarship opportunities, and aircraft building workshops. One of EAA’s greatest attractions is their annual weeklong fly-in convention held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, called AirVenture. It started in 1953 as a small gathering of less than 150 people, and has grown to attract 10,000 planes and over 500,000 attendees each year. As the largest fly-in worldwide, many aviation enthusiasts make it a goal to attend AirVenture at least once, and thousands of people make a point of attending every year.

Oshkosh AirVenture (shortened to “Osh” by regulars) really does have something for everyone interested in any facet of aviation. History, military, corporate, flight schools, aviation supply shops, universities, professional associations, and air traffic control are all represented. A week may sound like a long airshow, but even a week is not really long enough to see everything. I have visited 3 times, and the following are some observations and highlights I have experienced from my visits. More detailed information can be found at

A low pass during one of the many airshows
Desert Flying Club members

2021 Stats

Attendance: Approximately 608,000 – Only the third time attendance has surpassed 600,000 and within 5 percent of 2019’s record total.

Total aircraft: More than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin. At Wittman alone, there were 16,378 aircraft operations in the 10-day period from July 22-31, which is an average of approximately 116 takeoffs/landings per hour when the airport is open.

Total showplanes: 3,176 included: A record 1,420 vintage aircraft registered, plus 1,089 homebuilt aircraft, 354 warbirds, 148 aerobatic aircraft, 112 seaplanes, 33 ultralights, and 27 rotorcraft.

Camping: More than 12,000 sites in aircraft and drive-in camping accounted for an estimated 40,000 visitors.

Volunteers: More than 5,000 contributing in excess of 250,000 hours.

Commercial exhibitors: 747.

Forums, Workshops, and Presentations: A total of 1,055 sessions hosted throughout the week.


AirVenture has an abundance of activities from which to choose. There are dozens of aircraft manufacturers and sales representatives present with their aircraft on display, including gliders, helicopters, electric vehicles, jets, turbines, and seaplanes. It is a great opportunity to check out the latest aircraft being manufactured just for fun, or for those in the market to purchase a new aircraft. There are also aircraft parts, avionics, and accessory manufacturers and suppliers. In addition, there are presentations by prominent aviators, FAA and industry leaders, historical presentations, museums, and tours, scholarship awards, airline recruiters, and safety presentations for pilots, mechanics, ATC and experimental/homebuilt aircraft builders. One of the most popular attractions is the daily airshow, operating from runways 18/36 at 2:30-5:00 pm. It includes demonstrations and performances by drones, military, general aviation, and aerobatic aircraft. Spectators bring lawn chairs or blankets and relax on the grassy area west of the runway to watch the many amazing performances. Do not miss the night airshow, held a couple of times during the week after sunset, with illuminated aircraft performing stunts and igniting fireworks.

Highlights for me this year included attending a safety seminar for CFIs, taking a warbirds tram tour, meeting up with Desert Flying Club members and women pilot organizations, taking a tour of the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, seeing the Short Field Takeoff and Landing (STOL) competition, flying a Boeing 787 simulator, watching the hot air balloon glow and night airshow after dark, and visiting the seaplane base.

Trying out the Redbird full-motion sim
Fireworks following the night airshow
Visiting the seaplane base
Flying a visual approach on the Boeing 787 sim
Checking out the Diamond Aircraft booth
Hot air balloon glow
This C-47 led the invasion at Normandy in WWII


Admission to AirVenture can be purchase by daily pass, weekly pass, weekend pass, or a 2-day pass. Children 18 and under receive free admission, and active-duty, reservist, and veteran military receive a discount. Free admission may be provided to exhibitors and volunteers. It takes more than 5000 volunteers to put on the fly-in each year, so there are many opportunities to help out and earn free admission. For EAA members, daily admission is around $50 per day and weekly admission is around $130 per person.

Getting There

Plan early! If you plan on flying a plane into the KOSH airport, research the arrival and departure procedures carefully, and consider flying in with an experienced pilot. For the week of AirVenture, the air traffic control tower becomes the busiest in the world. Visitors may also fly commercially into several airports in the vicinity, including Appleton, Wisconsin (KATW, 20 sm), Green Bay, Wisconsin, (KGRB, 55 sm), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (75 sm), Chicago (KORD, 150 sm), and Minneapolis, Minnesota (KMSP, 240 sm). Rental cars and shuttles to KOSH will be available, however, rental cars frequently book up early in these cities, so book your reservations well in advance. Many people drive rented or owned campers/RV’s into the park, and camp right on the airfield at one of the areas set aside for camping.

Oshkosh and nearby airports


There are basically 4 options available for lodging at AirVenture: hotels, private rental homes on VRBO/AirBnB, camping, and staying in a dorm at a nearby university. We booked our reservations late this year and were still able to find a motel 20 minutes away for around $100 per night for a double bed with a sleeper sofa and kitchenette. There were a few hotel rooms still available in Oshkosh, but most started at $250 and up per night. Some visitors travel together and share expenses on a private rental together, while many attendees camp right on the grassy areas under their plane wings in tents, or drive campers/RVs in.


There are a wide variety of dining options all around the AirVenture campus. Some offer healthier options like fruit cups, fresh corn on the cob, and salads, while others have the traditional hamburgers, brats, Wisconsin cheese curds, pizza, and beverages. There are typical fast food and chain restaurants available off the campus. We brought snacks and water bottles in with us, and stayed on the campus to eat our meals more conveniently.

Enjoying Fresh Midwest Corn on the Cob

Flying Activities

This year, attendees could purchase short rides onboard a Ford Tri-Motor for $77, a Bell Helicopter for $55, and a B-25 ride for $360+. We did not participate this year, but it sure looked like a fun opportunity that I would love to try in the future. These rides are very popular, so it is suggested to show up at the appropriate booths early each morning for the best chance of reserving a spot.

B-25; Photo from
Ford Tri-Motor; Photo from


The summer weather in the upper Midwest can be cool and very pleasant with blue, sunny skies, or hot, muggy weather with poor visibility, wind and thunderstorms. We experienced all of these conditions while there this year. One night there was even a severe thunderstorm warning with tornadoes possible, so that many tent campers had to find rooms with friends or seek shelter until the storms passed. Watch the weather forecasts and pack accordingly. Umbrellas are very helpful for possible rain and for sun protection on the hotter days.

The Goodyear Blimp flies over many times each day

As you can see, AirVenture is an exciting fly-in experience, attracting enthusiasts from all over the world. The airshows, attractions and camaraderie, all about celebrating and sharing in the exciting world of aviation, are amazing to experience. For more information, please visit Many DFC club members have also visited AirVenture and would be happy to help with any questions or planning issues you may have. Reach out to Jan Greenburg, Lauren Scott, Gabi Thorp, Tim Miller, and Alan Zwick for more details. Hope to see you there next year!

AirVenture 2022: July 25-31!

By Lauren Scott, CFI

Marble Canyon, Arizona L41

Flying near mountainous terrain offers incredible rewards: breathtaking scenery, beautiful destinations, and arriving more quickly to desirable locations. However, mountain flying presents many unique challenges for pilots. A skilled Pilot in Command will take into account the risks, and do his or her best to mitigate and prepare for them. Consider the following ten areas carefully before embarking on a flight in mountainous terrain.

1. Pilot Experience and Proficiency

A Pilot Logbook

This is really important! Some flight schools will not even accept students for mountain flying training if they have less than 250 hours of PIC. This may seem extreme, but the mountain environment can leave little room for error, and the ability to maintain aircraft control is vital. Mountain Flying LLC ( emphasizes the importance of knowledge of stalls, aircraft control (including airspeed control +/-3 knots), and proficiency at accuracy landings. Every pilot is different, but honestly evaluate whether your skills and proficiency are up to the challenge. If not, consider doing some training with a CFI to become familiar with operating in the mountains before you venture off alone or with passengers.

2. Aircraft Performance

Sample Rate of Climb Chart

Another big one! If your aircraft has a mediocre climb rate on a winter day near sea level, please consider renting an aircraft with better performance for a mountain trip. It is recommended to use a plane with at least 160 hp. As all student pilots learn, increased pressure and density altitudes have a significant impact on the performance of the plane; for every increase of 1000’ in density altitude, normally-aspirated engine performance decreases by about 3% AND the true airspeed increases by about 2%. In addition. On summer days in mountainous terrain, the temperature and density altitude can remain high well after sunset. Please be very familiar with and use your plane’s performance charts before flying in the mountains. Some suggest reducing the maximum gross takeoff weight by 10% to help compensate for the reduced performance.

3. Takeoff and Landing Factors

Sample Takeoff Performance Chart

Related to aircraft performance, keep in mind that your plane will take off and land differently at high density altitude. Expect a longer takeoff run and pay close attention to maintain the proper indicated airspeed. At higher, less dense altitudes, the true airspeed will be higher, which has led some pilots to feel that they’re going faster, and they mistakenly rotate or approach at too low an airspeed, close to the stall. Also verify the POH for the appropriate Vx and Vy speed in case they change at altitude. Make sure the approach to landing is stable, and do not hesitate to go around if necessary. Some experienced mountain pilots make it a habit to fly a wider than normal pattern because of the increase in true airspeed, to allow for a wider turn radius. Know and follow your engine manufacturer’s recommendations for leaning the engine for best power on takeoff at high density altitude.

4. Airspace

Class E/G Depiction in Mountainous Terrain

Be familiar with airspace symbols, weather minimums, and entry requirements for the airspace you will be flying through. While in lower terrain a pilot may be able to fly below MOAs and Restricted or Prohibited Airspace, it may not be possible in the mountains (and there are often a lot of these special use airspace areas over the mountains in the western United States. Be aware that Class E airspace may begin at higher elevations than the usual 700 or 1200 AGL, indicated by a blue shaded line, with Class G underlying it. Above 10,000 MSL, Class E weather minimums increase to 5 sm visibility, 1,000’ below, 1,000’ above, and 1 mile horizontally from clouds. Class G also has higher minimums above 10,000’ MSL.

5. Weather

Many aspects of the weather are influenced by mountainous terrain. Let’s look at some major factors.

a. Winds Aloft

Winds Aloft Forecast

Unless there is a very stable, high-pressure air mass on a calm, cool day, mountain flying will usually mean dealing with some sort of wind: strong winds, gusts, turbulence, wind shear, up and down drafts, and even mountain waves. Be familiar with weather patterns in the area where you will be flying, and expect windy conditions. It is best to fly when winds aloft at the ridge line are no more than 20-25 knots; otherwise you can expect turbulence and possibly wind shear. Cross ridge lines at least 1000’ AGL when calm, and if winds are in excess of 20 knots, cross them at least 2000’ AGL. If needed to gain altitude, consider circling above the airport after takeoff to climb up to a safe altitude. Approach ridge lines at a 45-degree angle, to give yourself an easier out if you encounter strong turbulence and need to turn back away from the ridge. If there is an Airmet issued for moderate or stronger turbulence, consider postponing your flight.

If you happen to encounter an up- or downdraft, well-known pilot and writer Barry Schiff writes: “Maintaining altitude while flying through up- and downdrafts is counterproductive. Raising the nose to hold altitude in a downdraft results in losing airspeed, which prolongs the time spent in the downdraft. Instead, maintain attitude, accept the altitude loss, and pass through the downdraft as quickly as possible to minimize its effect.” (

b. Surface Winds

Wind Sock at Marble Canyon, L41

Whenever possible at uncontrolled fields, listen to the ASOS/AWOS report several miles out to determine the best runway for landing, and/or observe the wind sock by flying over the field at 500’ above traffic pattern altitude. Winds in mountainous areas may shift quite suddenly, so pay attention to the wind sock. Ensure a stabilized approach, use proper crosswind correction, and go-around when necessary. Apply the proper crosswind correction all the way through touchdown, slowing down, and during taxi operations. Tie the airplane down securely for parking, as winds can pick up unexpectedly.

c. Visibility

Showers and Low Visibility in Death Valley

Some seasoned mountain flying pilots recommend having a minimum visibility of 10 sm during mountain flying operations. With the rising terrain, morning fog and temperature inversions are common, causing reduced visibility in some areas. There is a network of FAA webcams available in remote locations like Alaska, Canada, and Colorado to help pilots get a picture of what is happening with the weather in real-time. See for details.

d. Thunderstorms

Safely on the Ground in Texas with Thunderstorms in the Distance

Pilots are familiar with the various hazards associated with thunderstorms: heavy rain, turbulence, wind shear, hail, and strong winds, and reduced visibility, to name a few. Remember that to form, thunderstorms must have sufficient moisture, a lifting force, and unstable air. Mountains naturally provide the lifting force, so just add some unstable air and moisture, and you have the perfect combination for thunderstorm development. This is particularly the case during summer afternoons, so watch out and make sure to fly at least 20 nm away from any thunderstorm cells, and try to fly earlier in the day, before thunderstorm development is more likely to occur. Also steer clear of virga; while beautiful, the rain that falls from clouds and evaporates before reaching the ground can be full of strong up and down drafts and be hazardous to small aircraft.

6. Night Flying

Sunset near Boulder City, Nevada

Even when not operating in the mountains, flying at night presents its own set of unique risks and considerations. In the mountains, those same considerations are only magnified. Besides the minimum 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop to meet recency of experience requirements for carrying passengers, pilots must evaluate whether they are proficient for night flying, especially in mountainous areas. One of the greatest risks is flying into terrain. Use all available resources to make sure the flight path clears terrain, including sectionals and/or electronic charts. Have a clear, well thought-out plan for arrivals and departures. Consider investing in an electronic app that displays virtual terrain information, such as this one by ForeFlight: 

Another hazard is losing an engine at night, and not being able to see to select a suitable emergency landing site. When possible, follow roads at night. The headlights make cars easy to see for navigation, and roads make an excellent emergency landing location. Another hazard at night is hypoxia susceptibility at lower altitudes. During day-time flights, hypoxia may be noticed around 10,000’, but at night, as our eyes depend more upon the oxygen-sensitive rods than cones, hypoxia effects may be noticed as low as 5000’. Know your hypoxia symptoms, and select a cruising altitude high enough to clear terrain without flying higher than necessary. Make extra sure you have a flashlight/headlamp, extra batteries, and an organized cockpit so you can locate things as you need them. Review the optical illusions that can occur at night: black hole illusion, bright or dim lights leading to a high or low approach, false horizon, etc., and be ready to rely on your instruments to help maintain situational awareness and aircraft control. Use the utmost caution flying at night in mountainous terrain, and choose to fly during the day instead if possible.

7. Cross-Country Flight Planning

A Cross-Country Flight over the Grand Canyon

Remember that suitable visual checkpoints may be sparse in the mountains. Look for prominent peaks, towns, lakes, roads, and mines. When possible, follow highways or roads (or at least rivers, and valleys), as they are easy to follow and provide suitable emergency landing sites. It may take a little longer than going direct, but if you lose your engine or have some other emergency, you’ll have a place to land, and emergency vehicles can much more easily provide assistance. File a flight plan and if possible, use VFR flight following services (oftentimes in mountainous terrain, radar coverage may begin around 6000’ MSL.)  LEAN the mixture according to the POH for operating at higher density altitudes. For takeoff, carefully identify and brief a plan for a loss of power on takeoff or climbout, and consider holding the brakes to check for full power and engine instruments in the green before commencing the takeoff roll. During the winter, make sure to check the NOTAMS carefully for ice, runway closures, and engine pre-heat and deicing services at destination airports.

8. Human Factors

A Pulse-Oximeter Can Help Detect Hypoxia

Since flying in mountainous terrain requires higher cruising altitudes than flying near lower ground, pilots can find themselves suffering from hypoxia more easily. Know the symptoms of oxygen deprivation, and participate in a high-altitude training course if you ever have the chance, so you can identify your own typical symptoms. Fly just high enough to clear the terrain safely, and consider carrying a couple of extra items in your bag to help identify or treat hypoxia: a fingertip pulse-oximeter, and a can of Boost portable oxygen. Remember the regulations for using supplemental oxygen if your flight will require altitudes above 12,500’. If hypoxia is suspected, descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible, and consider landing at an alternate airport to wait a few minutes to make sure you’re feeling well before continuing on.

9. In Case of Emergency

Declare an Emergency if Needed

Do not hesitate to declare an emergency if the need arises!  Be proficient with engine-out procedures and have at least the first few checklist items memorized. If you lose an engine, aviate first: pitch for best glide speed and turn toward lower terrain to increase your glide distance and find a warmer and lower place to land, preferably near habitation or a road. If in a forested area, try to aim for lighter weight trees like aspens, which will bend, rather than pine, which could trap the aircraft up high. If a crash landing occurs, evacuate all occupants until determining there is not chance of fire. Turn on the ELT, try to reach assistance with the radio or cell phone, stay warm and dry, and stay with the aircraft until help arrives.

10. Survival Gear

Be Prepared with Survival Gear

When flying in mountainous areas, be prepared for an off-airport landing. Consider carrying enough food and water to last 1-2 days. Bring winter clothes in case of an emergency, a first aid kit, signaling device, personal GPS unit, and handheld radio. Emergency blankets or sleeping bags take up very little room but can literally save your life if you are stranded in a remote area overnight. Some Alaskan bush pilots wear a survival vest while flying loaded up with survival gear, so that if they do have to make an emergency landing, whatever they might need is right there on their person, instead of being impossible to access after a crash.

Mountain flying can provide some of the most rewarding flying experiences for us as pilots. Be safe, be prepared, pack a good camera, and enjoy the ride!

DFC held our Hybrid June 2021 Safety Meeting. We were able to meet both online and in person. Josh Harkness presented on Mountain Flying and dealing with high density altitude. It was a great opportunity to learn about opportunities to explore new airports in the west but also the dangers of flying into canyons and high airports.

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DFC held our Hybrid May 2021 Safety Meeting. We were able to meet both online and in person. Gary Kauffman, our club chief pilot, presented on Aircraft Leaning Procedures and High Density Altitude Operations.

Just in time for rising summer temperatures! We reviewed proper mixture leaning procedures and high density altitude considerations for operating airplanes safely and efficiently.

DFC held our online April safety seminar. Cathy Stockdale, the Henderson FAASafety Team representative, presented Why and How to Develop Personal Minimums.

Every pilot has his/her own comfort level and personal limitations already. Why do we need to formalize the process by creating personal minimums? In this webinar we discussed exactly why it is important to create an organized set of premeditated decisions for when we encounter weather, aircraft, or situations which stretch or surpass our abilities. We learned through scenario-based training how “front-loading” many of our decisions to the preflight phase gains us valuable time and mental energy. And finally we covered guidance and recommendations for creating our own personal minimums specific to our flying.

Posted by: In: Newsletter 19 Mar 2021 Comments: 0

DFC held our online March safety seminar. Alan Zwift for the DFC safety committee presented about Weather or not to fly. Understanding weather and making good decisions about it is essential for safe GA flying.

Posted by: In: Uncategorized 19 Feb 2021 Comments: 0

DFC held our online February safety seminar, where We reviewed Risk Management, ADM and SRM concepts from FAA publications and through common flight scenarios such as preflight, take-off brief, pattern ops and examples from the AOPA “There I Was” podcast series. We applied them to actual flight scenarios.

By Lauren Scott, CFI

One of the greatest benefits of flying general aviation planes out of Henderson Executive Airport is the variety of exciting destinations that can be reached in just a few hours (or less!). Our location in the Las Vegas Valley puts us in close proximity to world-famous national parks, national recreation areas, beaches, deserts, ski slopes, canyons, and mountains. Whether you enjoy the outdoors, dining, or upscale resorts, when you fly out of Henderson there are plenty of locations from which to choose. Read on for more information on some of the nearby airports club members enjoy flying into. As always, please consult the chart supplement and other FAA-approved publications for the most current flight planning information.

50-100 Nautical Miles

Bullhead City, Arizona KIFP

Distance from Henderson: 57 nm


Bullhead City is on the east side of the Colorado River, 57 nautical miles southeast of Henderson. A sister city to Laughlin, Nevada directly across the river, Bullhead and Laughlin are known for their water sports, fishing, and small community of casinos in Laughlin. The weather is similar to Las Vegas, and the proximity to the water makes this a popular destination for pilots. There are many dining options in the towns of Bullhead and Laughlin. The surrounding scenery on approach and departure from IFP is breathtaking. Check out for more information.

Good to Know

While KIFP is a class D airport with daytime tower operations and generally low traffic volume, they do have scheduled commercial flights into the airport in large passenger jets like B737s. It’s also a popular destination for student pilot operations from other locations. The wind can pick up unexpectedly due to nearby terrain and the river and become quite gusty. Small piston aircraft can expect a $29 handling fee, which can be reduced to $5 with a purchase of at least 10 gallons of fuel. There is also a courtesy car for pilots to use for up to 2 hours on a first-come, first serve basis. Please see for more airport details.

Grand Canyon West, 1G4

Distance from KHND: 64 nm


Grand Canyon West airport is located 64 nm east of Henderson. Owned and operated by the Hualapai tribe and located on their reservation, the airport is home to many helicopter, airplane, and bus tours. The famous Skywalk is located just ½ mile from the airport, but please note that purchased tour tickets are required for anyone leaving airport property. Even if not leaving the airport, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking flying into and out of Canyon West. Being so close to Henderson, it really is a must-see airport for the scenery. If you are going to do a lot of flying over the rest of the Grand Canyon, it is a good stopping point to stretch your legs and use the restroom before continuing your flight.

Good to Know

Depending on the season, Canyon West can be VERY busy with tour traffic, so monitor the radio carefully and make recommended radio reports for this class G airport. There are nice restrooms, a snack bar, and a large gift shop available, with no landing fees.  There is no fuel, and tie-downs may not be available, so bring some straps with you if you plan to stay for a while. Please see for more airport and amenity details.

Kingman, AZ KIGM

Distance from KHND: 72 nm


Kingman, Arizona started as an old railroad town located 72 nm to the southeast of Henderson, just north of the I-40. History buffs will appreciate a visit to this field which was developed in WWII as one of the largest aerial gunnery training bases in the U.S. Following the war, it became one of the largest reclamation sites for obsolete military aircraft. Today, there are still hundreds of aircraft in storage at the airport due to a surplus of market demands. Many are maintained in an airworthy condition, awaiting a return to service. A popular time to fly in is in October, when the airport holds the Kingman AirFest, a fly-in and airshow hosted by EAA chapter 765.  All year, pilots can also enjoy a delicious breakfast food or a hamburger at the Kingman Airport Cafe located right on the airfield overlooking the runways. is a great resource.

Good to Know

Kingman is located within a fairly quiet class G area. According to pilots, the crew car may or not be available, and FBO service hours can be limited, so call ahead if you plan to need either one. Look out for the steep rising mountains to the west. The biggest draws for this airport are the restaurant and the surplus aircraft. Downtown Kingman also has a number breweries, restaurants and shopping located right on Route 66. Several wineries are a short drive north of the airport. Please see for more airport details.

Mesquite, NV 67L

Distance from KHND: 73 nm


Mesquite Municipal Airport is 73 nm northeast of Henderson near the borders with Arizona and Utah. Mesquite is right along the I-15, a growing town of about 17,000 residents. It is known for its handful of casinos, and seven golf courses. Some of the casinos offer reasonably-priced spa or golf and stay packages. The airport is beautiful, located on a mesa above the town. Please see for more details on nearby activities.

Good to Know

Most of the time, the Mesquite airport is a quiet class G airport, but they do have parachuting operations right on the field, as well as hosting occasional fly-ins and auto shows at the airport, so be prepared before you visit. There is a good restaurant at the golf course adjacent to the airport. A short ride on a golf cart will deliver you right to the doorstep, and there may also be a courtesy car. Be familiar with the calm-wind operations; runway 02 is on quite an upslope with steep terrain at the departure end, so it’s definitely best to follow the recommended procedures. The airport has more information on their Facebook page at 

Furnace Creek & Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, CA

L06 & L09

Distance from KHND: 90 nm


Furnace Creek is located 90 nm northwest of Henderson. The Furnace Creek airport is within Death Valley National Park, and is maintained by the National Park Service.  The original airfield was built in 1929, served as an emergency landing site for military aircraft during WWII, and brought tourists in to see the park. The current airport was built in 1954, and has the distinction of being the airport at the lowest elevation in North America, at 210’ below sea level. The landscapes of Death Valley are truly magnificent, and because of the great expanse of the park, seeing it by air is a great option. There is a golf course adjacent to the airport, and the visitor center is ¾ mile walk away. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation, nor any rental cars available. There are campgrounds and a visitor center within walking distance, and a shuttle service is provided for guests of the nearby Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resorts. If you visit Death Valley, it’s also worthwhile to fly over to the Stovepipe Wells airstrip just 15 nm to the northwest. There are a gift shop, restrooms, campground, and lodge just a 1/2 mile walk from the tie down area. Beautiful areas to fly over are the Panamint Valley (look for the sea level sign part-way up the mountain near Badwater Basin, where the lowest point is 282 feet below seal level), the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells, and the Racetrack Playa, 20 miles west of Stovepipe Wells.

Good to Know

To clear the Spring Mountains directly to the west of the Las Vegas Valley, and to remain clear of the overhead Bravo airspace, it’s recommended to fly west or southwest of Henderson and cross the mountain range at one of the passes such as Columbia or Potosi. Continue west to fly over Shoshone L61 to the Amargosa River, then northbound up through Panamint Valley, which includes the lowest elevation Badwater Basin at nearly 282’ below sea level. Be aware that the park and its airports underlie MOAs, which begin at 200′ or 3000’ AGL, and stay above the recommended 2000′ AGL over a national park. There are no fuel services available at either Furnace Creek nor nearby Stovepipe Wells, so plan alternate fuel stops accordingly, such as Pahrump 74P. The airports are for daytime use only. The runway at Furnace Creek is marginally maintained, so it is very rough and has some foliage growing up through the pavement. There has been recent talk of closing the airports, so be sure to visit soon if it is on your aviation bucket list. Beware of the usual hazards associated with mountain flying, including high density altitude, gusty conditions, wind shear, and mountain obscuration. Please see for more information.

Lake Havasu, Arizona KHII

Distance from Henderson: 92 nm


Lake Havasu Airport is 92 nm southeast of Henderson on the beautiful, Colorado River-fed Lake Havasu. Like Bullhead City, Havasu is well-known for its water sports, fishing, and outdoor recreation. The weather tends to be a few degrees warmer than Henderson, and the scenery all around is gorgeous. Please visit for more details. 

Good to Know

Havasu can be a fairly busy class G airport, with plenty of fair-weather, charter, and student training flights operating at any given time. It also underlies the busy Turtle MOA, and military jets and helicopters can often be seen landing and taking off. There are a variety of restaurants available in the surrounding area, including a popular one called Hangar 24 right on the field. The FBO, Desert Skies, providing self- or full-service fuel, is known for their slushy machine and popcorn available in the lobby. They also have a pool and hot tub on property for pilots to use; just ask at the front desk. There is no daytime landing or parking fee for small planes. There are 3 courtesy cars available at no charge with fuel purchase, but consider calling in advance to reserve one. For more details on the airport, please see

101-150 Nautical Miles

Grand Canyon, Arizona KGCN

Distance from KHND: 146 nm


With adequate preparation, this is a must-see area for GA pilots out of Henderson. You could spend a few hours visiting some park highlights, or take a whole day or two to visit each and every corridor and canyon, but any way you choose to fly, it will not disappoint. The Grand Canyon is indeed an attraction not to miss, and there is no better way to take in its beauty than by flying overhead. There are FAA special VFR flight rules (SVFR) surrounding the canyon, so be sure to do the research to fly it properly, and consider sitting down with a CFI beforehand to go over your planned route of flight. The Grand Canyon airport itself is set among a forest of pines not far from the South Rim in Tusayan. Restaurants and lodging are plentiful in Tusayan as well as in the park itself. A park entrance fee will be required to enter the park, or possession of a national parks pass. Please visit for more about visiting the park.

Good to Know

Seasonally, the Grand Canyon airport can be a very busy class D airport, with plenty of helicopter, airplane, and GA tours occurring daily. Be very familiar with altitude restrictions, and monitor and broadcast your location on the appropriate frequency in the SVFR area, or consider picking up VFR flight following for traffic advisories. There is no landing fee at GCN, but be prepared to pay a premium for fuel. In case you must choose just one corridor to transition, Zuni and Dragon are very popular. If you call the FBO ahead of time, you may ask permission to park at the north end of the ramp instead of at transient parking, which is a long walk to the FBO. There is a paid shuttle service that can drive passengers into the park, then a free shuttle within the park to different overlooks. As it’s so close to the canyon, be aware that the weather patterns can shift suddenly and become very windy and turbulent. Density altitude considerations are especially important at KGCN, where the field elevation is 6609’. Check out for more information about the airport.

Big Bear City (L35)

Distance from KHND: 135 nm


Big Bear City is a beautiful lake-side mountain town surrounded by the rugged San Bernardino National Forest, and a popular destination for residents from Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona. It boasts a variety of seasonal activities, from snowshoeing and skiing in the winter at two ski resorts, to waterskiing, boating, hiking, and mountain biking in the warmer months. There are many resorts and cabins, and plentiful private rental properties available for lodging, along with various choices for dining. Additional fun activities especially for families include an alpine slide in the summer, and an animal rescue called the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. See for more details on activities.

Good to Know

Self-serve Jet A and 100LL are available on the ramp at Big Bear. A restaurant is located in the airport terminal, but please call ahead to verify the hours before visiting. No courtesy cars are available, but there is a shuttle into the village for $5 per person each way, or free transit to the ski slopes. Like any mountainous, high elevation airport, advance flight and performance planning is important to conducting a safe flight. Please be aware that the field elevation at Big Bear is 6752’ MSL; even under standard conditions, airplane performance will be adversely affected by the high density altitude. Since the airport is in a mountainous basin, use care with arrival and departure procedures, which tend to be best made from the northeast or the west. A noise abatement program is in effect, so be sure to follow the procedures for a quiet arrival and departure. There is a lot more information at, including a very helpful animation on VFR arrivals and departures. The mountains can also create strong gusts and wind shear, so try to plan your visit on a calmer day with stable air.  Even if instrument rated, it is highly recommended to fly to Big Bear in the daytime before flying in at night to be familiar with both the arrival and departure procedures.

Palm Springs, CA KPSP

Distance from KHND: 145 nm


Palm Springs International Airport is in the popular resort city in southern California, located 145 nm southwest of Henderson in the Coachella Valley. It is a famous retirement and winter snowbird destination, known for its resorts, arts and cultural scene, and outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, biking, golfing, and horseback riding. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ( provides a 10-minute rotating tram car ride up to the San Jacinto Park and Wilderness Area, where there is a snack bar, lounge, and two restaurants (one of which has incredible views of the valley below). If you’re sticking closer to the airport, check out the Palm Springs Air Museum, ranked #14 among the world’s best aviation museums by CNN Travel. In addition to rotating through airplane exhibits, there are flight rides available for purchase in planes such as a PT-Stearman and P-51 Mustang. Please see for more details. The FBO, Atlantic Aviation, is top-notch, and is rumored to have the world’s best scones and cookies!

Good to Know

Palm Springs is underlying one of the few remaining TRSAs in the U.S. Terminal Radar Service Areas provide radar separation to IFR and participating VFR aircraft. It is not required, but certainly encouraged to contact TRSA on the appropriate frequency as you would contact approach at a Class C airport, and expect radar vectors until they hand you off to the tower controllers. Expect to approach from the north and use the shorter parallel runway, as larger jets may be using the longer one. On departure, contact clearance delivery for a transponder code and departure frequency before calling for taxi. Look out for gusty afternoon winds and turbulence, especially to the west-northwest through Banning Pass. There are overnight fees, but they may be waived with a fuel purchase. Courtesy cars may also be available.

150-225 Nautical Miles

Marble Canyon, Arizona L41

Distance from KHND: 176 nm


Marble Canyon is another stunning airport, located 176 nm northeast of Henderson within the Grand Canyon SVFR boundaries. The surrounding landscape is marked by the twisting Colorado River, rugged vermillion cliffs, and deep ravines. There is a small parking area on the north end, a restaurant, gift shop and lodge for overnight stays across the road, and the airport is within walking distance of the beautiful Navajo Bridge near Lee’s Ferry. Kayaking and rafting tours may also be available seasonally. For more details on the Marble Canyon Lodge and activities, please see

Good to Know

Call ahead if you plan to eat at the restaurant, as their hours may be reduced seasonally. There is a $5 parking fee for single-engine aircraft. Like Grand Canyon Airport, its proximity to the special VFR area takes some familiarization and planning. While most low altitude flights for GA are prohibited within the canyon, flights below 3000’ AGL are allowed when flying into and out of the canyon airports including Marble Canyon. There is one narrow runway; it is fairly smooth, but curves and has an uphill slope to the north, and it is at the bottom of a canyon surrounded by very steep terrain. For a helpful first-hand account of flying into Marble Canyon, please visit

Flagstaff, AZ KFLG

Distance from Henderson: 177 nm


The Flagstaff airport is located 177 nm southeast of Henderson, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in Arizona, which includes Humphrey’s Peak at 12,633’. This unique area is surrounded by desert, mountains, and Ponderosa pine forests. Flagstaff’s towered, class D airport can be busy, used by general and corporate aviation, and seasonal commercial flights. Home to Northern Arizona University, there are numerous restaurants, lodging, and outdoor activities in the beautiful mountain city of 75,000.  Popular activities include biking, hiking, skiing at Snowbowl, and sightseeing at the Walnut Canyon National Monument with its Native American cliff dwellings. Nearby Mormon Lake and Lake Mary are used for fishing and water sports. The enormous Meteor Crater, 32 nm to the east, is 3900’ wide and 560’ deep. If you love the outdoors, Flagstaff is a great destination to visit. There may be courtesy cars available at the FBO, and car rental companies and ride sharing services are plentiful in the area. Say hello to the FBO cat while you’re there! Visit for more information.

Good to Know

The field elevation at Flagstaff is 7014’, so be very familiar with the high density altitude performance capabilities of your aircraft, and consider a calm winter, spring or fall visit rather than the hot summer. There is a top-notch FBO on the field with all kinds of services provided, including overnight parking, maintenance services, and 24-hour full-service fueling. For noise abatement, avoid overflying the congested areas. As with all mountain-flying locations, beware of gusty winds, wind shear, and mountain obscuration. More details can be found at

Sedona, Arizona KSEZ

Distance from KHND: 177 nm


Sedona is another must-see for pilots in the southwest, 177 nm southeast of Henderson. The unique desert landscape is filled with stunning red rocks, steep cliffs, and mesas; the 5100’ runway itself is built upon a mesa at 4831’ elevation.  Sedona is known for its temperate climate, festive arts community, and outdoor activities like hiking and biking. There are numerous lodging options, from small budget lodges to five-star upscale resorts. There is a delicious restaurant, The Mesa Grill, right next door to the terminal with a dog-friendly outdoor patio and fire pit overlooking the runway. The Sky Ranch Lodge, just a short stroll from the terminal, has rooms and cottages available for overnight stays. There are no courtesy vehicles, however there are rental cars available by the day or for $10/hour. has more information.

Good to Know

Sedona is an uncontrolled field, but can be very busy with helicopter, GA, and corporate aviation. Its unique location on top of a mesa can create challenging arrivals and departures, so please read the chart supplement carefully for preferred runway use, noise abatement, and wind patterns. Have an assistant ready to take pictures and videos during approach and departure, as it is incredibly scenic! Please plan carefully under high density altitude and gusty conditions, and note that touch and goes are not authorized. Be prepared to be amazed by this breath-taking destination! Please see for more airport details.

Catalina Island, Avalon, CA KAVX

Distance from KHND: 224 nm


Catalina Island, 224 nm southwest of Henderson, is one of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. It is known for its ocean diving, beaches, zip-lining, wildlife, camping, jeep tours, and a resort town called Two Harbors. The town includes a movie theater, dining, and a museum. Transportation to Catalina is normally by ferry, but in a plane, it’s a quick 20 nm hop over from the coast. Interestingly, most of the island was purchased by entrepreneur William Wrigley Jr. of chewing gum fame, and he would bring his Chicago Cub baseball team to Catalina each year for spring training.  He also built the airport known as Airport in the Sky. More details can be found at 

Good to Know

The airport is at 1602’ above the Pacific Ocean, about 10 miles from Avalon. It is paved and 3250’ long, maintained by the Catalina Island Conservancy, which charges a landing fee to use the facility, and provides overnight tie-downs. To make the trip without a floatplane, it’s necessary to select a high enough altitude to glide back to the coast, or to the island, safely in case of an engine failure. Make sure to study the recommended airport arrival and departure procedures, and make sure you are proficient with short field takeoffs and landings. Please see this helpful article on flying into Catalina at

The AOPA Safety Foundation has also published a video on flying into Catalina at

These are just some of the many exciting locations easily accessible by small plane from Henderson. There are many more hidden gems waiting to be discovered by pilots. Desert Flying Club has many planes available for rental which are perfect for exploring our area, and knowledgeable instructors ready to help if you need assistance planning your next adventure. Please make sure to share your photos, videos and thoughts with us on these airports or others you visit!