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Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:58 pm


Hello! I am a high school student who recently became a member of I regularly travel to places around the world, and am very grateful for the opportunity. Some of the regions/countries I have visited include the Caribbean, Switzerland, and the country I consider most exotic: India. Since I've been flying since I was an infant, it makes sense that I have developed a great passion for aviation. However, living in the 21st century, I am much more interested in newer airplanes, such as the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A340, rather than say the Douglas DC-3 or warplanes. As far as my favorite airline and airplane, as of now it goes to Cathay Pacific and the Airbus A340-500, the world's longest-range commercial airliner.

I am, however, not a "newbie" to I frequent this website to do things from awing at the day's featured photographs, to researching information about my next trip. For example, just a month ago I traveled on a mega-trip covering Italy and India, and had the chance to fly on Condor Flugdienst, Emirates, and Cathay Pacific, all airlines I had never flown with before. Condor was one of those odd airlines that flies to Las Vegas, among Copa Airlines, Korean Air, and XL Airways, and I didn't know much about the airline. Luckily, I found a trip report about a flight from Frankfurt to Las Vegas on Condor, right here on perfect. I ended up traveling with Condor and enjoyed it, so thank you my fellow trip-reporters.

Now, on to the trip. As a high school student, you need to begin considering the different paths you can take from college and beyond, as well as the college/university you wish to attend. Along with medicine, aviation has been a strong interest, so I decided to head down to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Flight Exploration Camp, at their campus in lovely Prescott, Arizona. (I'll expand on the experience later.) We booked our flight with Allegiant, from Las Vegas to Phoenix/Mesa. Another odd fascination I have is with secondary airports, so was naturally excited to visit Phoenix's second 'major' airport. The flight back would be out of Phoenix's primary commercial airport, Sky Harbor, on US Airways.

I hope you enjoy my first trip report! Any and all constructive criticism is greatly welcome.  


Flight Information:
Airline ------------------------------------------------ Allegiant Air
Flight Number ------------------------------------- 592
Date -------------------------------------------------- 7/21/2013
Aircraft ---------------------------------------------- McDonnell Douglas MD-83
Aircraft Registration ---------------------------- ?
Departure City ------------------------------------ Las Vegas, NV, USA
Departure Airport -------------------------------- Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS/KLAS)
Departure Time (Sch.) ------------------------- 11:00am
Departure Time (Act.) -------------------------- 11:09am
Arrival City ----------------------------------------- Phoenix, AZ, USA
Arrival Airport ------------------------------------- Phoenix/Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA/KIWA)
Arrival Time (Sch.) ------------------------------ 12:10pm
Arrival Time (Act.) ------------------------------- 12:08pm

2 weeks following my mega-trip to Italy and India, it was time to head yet again to the airport. While I have my three months off for summer vacation, I am not a person who stays in bed until 1pm. It was not much of a problem, in fact normal for me, to wake up at 7am on Sunday, shower, eat, and drive to the airport. I had yearned to travel all by myself, but my parents found it better, at least this time, for them to come along. We printed out our boarding passes and rental car information before jumping into the car, me with my stuffed carry-on and bulging-out backpack. No extra fees for us, Allegiant!

Unless you haven't figured it out already, I am from Las Vegas. I can say that living in Sin City isn't that bad. Most visitors only head to the Strip, filled with flashing lights and nightclubs, but ignore the fact that Las Vegas is a real city, where people work, shop, eat, and generally lead normal lives. The strip is a small part of our city, anyways. There's North Las Vegas to the north (obviously), and the other communities immediately surrounding the Strip, where all the crime lies. To the south and southeast lies Henderson and Green Valley, which house some suburban communities that are just as safe as any other suburb. To the west of the Strip lies Summerlin, a large suburb with both cookie-cutter houses and mansions in gated communities. Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston are further west. The summers are quite hot, usually in the 90's-100's range, and during the winter temperatures can reach 30°F, with a morning of snow(!) every 2-3 years. As far as the schools, those outside the Strip area are nice for the most part. I rarely visit the Strip, and if I do, it's because I have visitors from out-of-town.

A bit about the airport: McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is one of the things I love about Las Vegas. Not necessarily because of the "stunning" and "modern" architecture of the terminal buildings or the decent restaurants in the terminals, but because of the eclectic mix of airlines that serve this city. Did you know you can fly to both Gatwick and Heathrow in London, another two cities in the UK, Paris, Frankfurt, Panama, and Seoul nonstop from Las Vegas? This really fascinates me, because I view Las Vegas as a tiny tourist trap. The semi-recent replacement of Terminal 2 by Terminal 3 was also exciting, from which I have already flown out of several times, with Virgin America, British Airways, and Condor Flugdienst. Now, I'm waiting for FsDreamTeam to update their Las Vegas scenery with Terminal 3.

Now let's continue with the outbound flight. Passing through security, where I get to go through the metal detector instead of the giant body scanners, we hopped aboard the tram to the D-Gates Concourse. The flight was on-time, the MD-83 sitting at the gate, while I filled with nervousness as to how the summer camp experience would be, from my fellow campers and counselors to the actual flying. I squashed my nervousness and tried not to think about it too much, as we walked down the jetway.

As I had never flown with Allegiant Air before, I related it with Spirit Airlines, an ultra low-cost carrier whom I've flown several times with before. I expected limited legroom and no complimentary beverage service, but as if it would matter for a 40-minute flight. The flight was generally smooth, although some clouds around Phoenix made the approach a bit turbulent. I was surprised to see beautiful green fields as we gradually approached the runway, which is quite the difference from the scorched Las Vegas Valley. We would walk down a stairway outside into a lightly-raining Mesa, and walk a little over to the terminal building. Walking through the outdoor courtyards to reach the baggage claim reminded me of Kona International Airport on the Big Island. But before that, I grabbed the "in-flight magazine" (basically a small book of ads), for a fresh addition to my collection.

What will follow are some photographs of approach and Phoenix/Mesa Airport. All the pictures in this trip report were taken using an iPhone 5, so I apologize for the poor picture quality in some of them:
Cruising at 27,000 feet, this photo taken seconds before our initial descent began
Hills and mountains around Mesa, darkened by the cloud cover
Anyone know what this airplane is doing here?
The terminal building at Phoenix/Mesa Airport
Another Allegiant Air MD80 parked at the gate
The plane that took us on the short 40-minute hop from Las Vegas
Waiting at the rental car kiosks, the baggage claim area situated behind the café

And now on to the flight camp at the ERAU (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) Prescott campus...


After we jumped into our Ford rental car at Phoenix/Mesa Airport, it was time to drive 2 hours before reaching the university's campus in Prescott, Arizona. It was a cloudy day with some drizzling, in fact the weather forecast for the entire week was rain and thunderstorms. Normally, I would be excited about this as a Las Vegas resident, but had to take into account whether the conditions would be appropriate for flying. As we continued driving, my nervousness began to slowly sink in, but I was able to fend it off for a while. This also happened to be only my second time staying away from my family overnight, the last time in 5th grade for only 2-3 days, but this I wasn't too worried about.

Overall, I enjoyed my summer camp experience. The "Flight Exploration" camp was obviously aimed at widening your knowledge of flight in general, hence the name "Flight Exploration". Among the things we would do during the camp were attend a few classes of ground school, visit the Prescott ATC tower (which I was sadly unable to do), and receive up to 4 hours of flying time in a Cessna 172. The flight instructors were relatively young and clearly enjoyed their job. Also, we spend some of our free time in the dogfight simulators, and once did some rock climbing at the bluffs, only a 5 minute walk away. Of course there were the "downs", including the hyperactive/mischievous campers and the same food almost every day. But overall, I actually learned quite a bit and was unexpectedly more than satisfied with the summer camp experience.

For those of you who are interested, here are some photographs from the drive to and the summer camp:
Lots and lots of cacti, which disappeared as we approached Prescott
A low layer of clouds
Grasslands near Prescott Valley
Watson Lake
One of Arizona's many extinct volcanoes, this one plugged by a gigantic boulder
An example of the greenery, seen here around a river forming an "S" shape
Tucson International Airport
One of the many thunderstorms, which forced us to divert one day
A canyon forming an "E" shape
Another view of the Cessna we flew the most with
Rock climbing at the bluffs, around a 10-minute walk from our dorms
A bunch of baby cacti
A Douglas DC-3, in the hangar at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Phoenix
Inside the DC-3
A soldier's jacket from World War II. Basically all of those translations say "I am an American aviator; you shall be rewarded should you return me to friendly lines." Very interesting
Military jet inside the museum
Hail from a thunderstorm
Prescott Airport by night
Prescott Valley, where all the restaurants, movie theaters, etc. are
Almost back in Prescott, bringing our flight experience with ERAU to an end
An RC plane at the airfield
Remnants of the thunderstorms, forming this little river
Driving back to Phoenix to catch our flight


Flight Information:
Airline ------------------------------------------------ US Airways
Flight Number ------------------------------------- 174
Date -------------------------------------------------- 7/26/2013
Aircraft ---------------------------------------------- Airbus A319
Aircraft Registration ---------------------------- ?
Departure City ------------------------------------ Phoenix, AZ, USA
Departure Airport -------------------------------- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX/KPHX)
Departure Time (Sch.) ------------------------- 6:40pm
Departure Time (Act.) -------------------------- 6:36pm
Arrival City ----------------------------------------- Las Vegas, NV, USA
Arrival Airport ------------------------------------- Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS/KLAS)
Arrival Time (Sch.) ------------------------------ 7:46pm
Arrival Time (Act.) ------------------------------- 7:38pm

The summer camp was concluded in a fancy luncheon, although I would have preferred something a bit more casual. Yet again Italian food was served, seemingly the only thing the Sodexo company employees know how to make, which included two types of lasagna and large squares of tiramisu. All the campers received a special coin, its purpose vague to me, and after that we returned to the dorms to collect my luggage. Shortly afterwards we were driving down Arizona Route 69 and eventually Interstate 17 for Phoenix. This time we were flying out of Sky Harbor, Phoenix's primary commercial gateway, rather than Mesa "Gateway" Airport.
Approaching Sky Harbor Airport

To me, we were traveling on just another domestic airline and just another small airplane, for a short 45 minute flight back to Las Vegas, so I wasn't that excited to go back home. My mind was occupied with the summer camp, remembering all that I had done over the past week. We dropped off our rental car at Phoenix Sky Harbor's giant, fancy rental car facility, and took an eight minute(!) bus ride to Terminal 4.
Outside the rental car facility, waiting for the Terminal 4 bus

As we prepared to depart Phoenix, I realized how much better it was over Las Vegas. A much larger city, with tons more Indian restaurants and what you could call greenery. Plus, Phoenix is a city known for things like artwork and history, rather than for gambling and nightclubs. I'm not too aware of the real estate and employment conditions in the city, but would rather live there than where I live now. Anyways, on to the flight...

Once we disembarked from the bus and entered the terminal, I noticed that a British Airways flight was to depart in around three hours, meaning that most of the passengers were arriving at the airport now. That sure did elevate my spirits, because I am somewhat obsessed with the airline, having flown with them several times before, and because it was Phoenix's only transatlantic passenger service (pardon me if I'm wrong). Also, the gate of my flight happened to be just across from the British Airways flight gate, simply wonderful as well.
British Airways ticketing desks at Sky Harbor
Phoenix even has a Metro Light Rail service, covering the entire city
Waiting at our gate; right ahead is the gate for the British Airways flight
British Airways jumbo, slowly nearing departure back to England

Our flight left on-time, contributing to the relative boredom I experienced on the inbound journey, and we headed down the jet-way towards our seats in the back of the aircraft. Outside the bright sun shone down upon a hazy Phoenix, slowly descending towards the horizon as night approached. In some respects I was excited to go home for the final month of summer vacation, in others I was sad to leave behind new friends and a memorable experience.

We smoothly touched down as the sun began to set, which left the sky in beautiful tones of red, orange, and purple. It was of course a wonderful time for a photo shoot, and I decided to snap away at the Colorado River, Lake Mead, and the Valley as we approached the airport. I tried to take some pictures of Terminal 3, where a British Airways 747 and a Korean Air 777 were waiting patiently, but never got a good opportunity to take one, so sorry about that. Photos of the approach and the airport:
Cruising at 28,000 feet
The Colorado River; look at how the water level has fallen
Around Lake Mead
Clark County Wetlands Park, on the fringes of the Las Vegas Valley
The east end of the Las Vegas Valley at sunset
Almost there!
The new ATC tower near Terminal 3
Taxiing off of the runway
Southwest 737 (sorry for the blurriness)
Spirit Airbus (sorry for the blurriness again)
American Airlines MD80 beneath a beautiful orange-pink sky
The glass façade at the D-Gates concourse, concealing some tall palm trees
The adequate legroom for the short flight, taken right before we disembarked
Blurry view of the forward Economy class cabin

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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:02 pm
An arm of the D-Gates concourse; see the slot machines? Yes, even in the airport.
Indians should recognize who this is (Shahrukh Khan, a famous Bollywood actor)
The strip, taken from the Economy parking lot
A bunch of palm trees at the airport
New multi-story car park, exclusively for Terminal 3
The other ATC tower at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport


This turned out to be a much better trip than I had expected. On the outbound, flying with Allegiant Air to Phoenix's secondary airport in Mesa was a bit different than flying with the standard US airlines, although Allegiant may be a low-cost carrier. During the meat of the trip, it was fun to visit Phoenix and the beautiful, rocky, and green (from my Las Vegas perspective) city of Prescott, where I had a great learning and exciting experience with the people at Embry-Riddle University. After sitting in the cockpit and actually flying a plane, hands on the yoke and everything, traveling back home was uneventful with boring old US Airways. Overall, considering both the journey and the flight camp, I really enjoyed my trip to Arizona.

Thank you for taking the time to read my very first trip report on! Please leave any comments below so that I can improve on future trip reports.  
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:23 pm

Great trip report! Im hoping to make it out to Prescott or Daytona next summer for the flight exploration camp. Looks like you enjoyed it.
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:55 am

Awesome TR! Being from Arizona and living abroad currently it was pretty nostalgic seeing all of your pics. Well done!
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:55 pm

Very nice TR...

Coming from a casino city myself, I was not looking forward to going to Vegas for a wedding at all last December, but the day we spent hiking in Red Rock Canyon was amazing. I have to say your casino town is much nicer than mine.  
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:08 pm

Thanks for all the comments.

Glad to hear you enjoyed your time at Red Rock Canyon. I've been there several times and I think it's a really nice getaway, other than the Grand Canyon, from the Strip for tourists and even the locals.
Unfortunately, once the casinos shut down, tourism and the entire city shuts down with them...

[Edited 2013-07-31 14:09:23]
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:26 pm

was the camp fun?? i was gonna go this summer but a different camp i go to was the same gonna go next year.
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:56 pm

Yeah, a lot. Actually putting your hands on the yoke, steering the aircraft, and even playing around with the rudders and trim was really exciting, having only done so in FSX.

Plus there were other things that were "un-flight related". One day we went rock climbing, one day we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and watched a movie at the theater. There were computer simulators for dogfights, which were fun, and you could go to the Student Union and play some video games. And with a group of counselors and flight instructors who are all pretty young, it's easy to get along with them.

You should go. It was a very fun and unique experience.
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:30 am

Very good report. As a long time Phoenician I am very familiar with all your pictures from Phoenix. BA is our only real international carrier, (not including those from Canada and Mexico) We used to have LH service as well but they pulled out several years ago now.
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RE: Summer Camp At Erau Prescott: LAS-AZA; PHX-LAS

Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:16 am

Nice TR! Glad to see you enjoyed the camp. I go to the University of North Dakota and we have one similar to that. It is something I regret not trying out. They seem to put on a lot of cool events for prospective aviation students. Embry is a fine institution. If you are looking to check out UND shoot me a PM (that goes for any members!) and I'll give you a tour of campus and what I can at the airport. Explain things without the fluff the school give ya!

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