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.
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.
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.
Initially green fields greet me on my journey, but they give way to rocky hues.
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.
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.
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.
The general aviation area is bit away from the main terminal. I head over to watch the myriad of flight operations.
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.