Pixel Plane Day 11 - Look Kids...Big Ben, Parliament

The weather is perfect for my sunrise flight out of KLBF North Platt. It's a hundred-and-thirty nautical mile flight to Akron, Colorado, and I enjoy the views of the landscape bathed in gold light.  

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When I set down in KAKO Colorado Plains Regional Airport, there are a few Cessnas parked in the general aviation area.  One is being prepped for a flight, and the pilot gives me a friendly nod.

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Not to be confused with Akron, Ohio, this is a small town with seventeen-hundred people.  I grab a cup of joe at Cornerstone Coffee, then I'm back to the airport for my trip to KDEN Denver International.  

Denver International is surround by Class B airspace, which means I'll need ATC clearance and guidance.  I file an IFR flight plan. As I zoom out on my Garmin, it displays the controlled airspace shelves as rings. Good to know, because there are strict FAA penalties for violating Class B airspace. More importantly, it'll be filled with aircraft, and I can cause a collision. ATC clears my flight plan and gives me my unique transponder identifier, forty-seven hundred, so they can track me. I dial it into my transponder.

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Initially green fields greet me on my journey, but they give way to rocky hues.

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Air traffic control takes me out over the city in a wide square to reach my runway. The route around Denver seems to take longer than the flight to Denver. Comms are alive with chatter from other aircraft.

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I've got runway 35R's ILS frequency dialed into NAV1 and my CDI set up for three-fifty. ATC takes me on a forty-five degree angle to intercept the approach.  

 “Heading is three-fifty,” ATC instructs, “we’ll call the field.”

I find “we’ll call the field” a bit confusing, but I repeat, “Fly heading three-fifty, call the field in sight.” 

I'm perfectly lined up with the runway when ATC gives me a new heading ninety-degrees to my left. Perplexed, I obey.

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ATC takes me on the long, rectangular circuit I just flew, looping along the forty-five and finally back to the three-fifty.  It feels like the scene on National Lampoon’s European Vacation, where Chevy Chase is stuck in the round about.

I scratch my head wondering why I was diverted, but finally deduce the cause. ATC was waiting for me to report the field in sight. When I didn't, they diverted me.

This time I do a better job, and land at runway 35R.

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The general aviation area is bit away from the main terminal. I head over to watch the myriad of flight operations.

 I have to give X Plane a hand. There are many third-party plug-ins to add AI traffic and airport operations, but vanilla X Plane does a good job of moving AI aircraft and ground services around the airport. Here a Cessna taxis while a Southwest 737 arrives.

I have to give X Plane a hand. There are many third-party plug-ins to add AI traffic and airport operations, but vanilla X Plane does a good job of moving AI aircraft and ground services around the airport. Here a Cessna taxis while a Southwest 737 arrives.

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There are endless things to do in Denver, and I spend the day exploring. I start with Dinosaur Ridge, following the footprints of dinosaurs. Next up is the Denver Botanic Gardens for an tour of Rocky Mountain flora. As an art fan, I can't miss the Denver Art Museum.  I swing by Larimer Square and Union Station before visiting Red Rocks Amphitheatre. All in all, a great day. I crash at my hotel and get a good night's sleep in preparation for tomorrow's flight to Granby-Grand County.