June 25, 2006 - Sacramento to Winnemucca

My parents drove me out to the Cameron Park airport early Sunday morning for the beginning of the long flight home.  Cameron Park is about 30 miles east of Sacramento and is right at the western base of the Sierra Nevada, at an elevation of 2,000 feet.  I figured I would have to climb to at least 10,000 feet to get over the Sierras.  I decided to follow highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe, then bop over the east rim into the Nevada desert. 

I took off at 6:10 AM to take advantage of the cool morning.  Heading east over highway 50, I just kept the engine at full power, ten degrees flaps, and the nose up high to hold a speed of 75-80 mph.  The Citabria climbed nicely and the engine stayed relatively cool.  Unfortunately, the sun was low on the horizon and right in my eyes, so I couldn't enjoy the scenery as much as I'd have liked.

The western slopes of the Sierra Nevada looking to the south. 

South Lake Tahoe ahead!
I ended up climbing to about 11,500 feet, the highest I've ever been in the Citabria.  I was only climbing at about 200-300 feet per minute the last thousand feet. 
Following highway 50, I'm no heading northeast.
Looking down the west side of the lake.
Not too many people on the lake at 7AM Sunday morning!
Looking back at Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL) which is at the southern end of the lake.
Heavenly Valley Ski Resort.  I skiied here once when I was just out of high school. 
Crossing the east rim, looking south.
The Nevada side of the rim, looking south.  I can remember sitting in a chair lift on the Nevada side of Heavenly Valley and looking 10,000 feet down to the desert floor.  What a view.
Flying parallel to the east rim.  You can just see the lake on the other side.  Less than an hour after takeoff, I was on the other side of the Sierra Nevada.  If only the Rockies were this narrow!
Minden Airport (KMEV), Nevada.  There is a world-class soaring operation that runs out of this airport.  Someday I'm going to fly one of the package deals they offer, and do some serious wave soaring.  I would have stopped and checked it out, but I figured there wouldn't be a lot of people around this early on a Sunday morning. 
I descended down to 5,500 and headed northeast, still following highway 50 through a valley, to run into Interstate 80.  Winds were light and the weather looked great. 
After awhile I came to this absolutely flat, deserted piece of desert, the perfect place to celebrate my successful passage of the Sierra Nevada with a little low-level flying. 
Oh yeah.  The Citabria is as steady as a rock this low.  It's like driving your car down the freeway; albeit a little faster than 55 mph.
The desert gave way to the Carson Sink, also perfect for flying low. 
I had to stay on the western edge of the sink, since the military hogs most of the airspace over the sink for their own fun. 
I'm glad that shadow isn't in the shape of an F-16 or Blackhawk helicopter!
All too soon, it was time to pop up.  That is Interstate 80 below, which was to be my companion for the next three days, all the way to the vicinity of Chicago.
Trains, planes and automobiles.  Later on, when I was bored, I would fly alongside I-80 and try to put the Citabria's shadow on a particular truck or car.  I wasn't going much faster than they were! 
The Humboldt River enables a little green in the Nevada desert.
Pretty good visibility today.  The desert can be very scenic when it isn't hazy. 
My first stop, Winnemucca Airport (KWMC), dead ahead. 
Safe on deck at Winnemucca.  Airport elevation:  4,308 feet.  When I announced on the radio that I was ten miles out, the airport attendant gave me the weather at the airport, the only time that happened my entire trip. 
The Winnemucca terminal.  The attendant and manager were very friendly.  They gave me the keys to the courtesy car and I had a fantastic breakfast of huevos rancheros at "The Griddle" in town. 
The town of Winnemucca, Nevada.