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First flight to Tahoe

Yesterday -- partly as a hour building exercise, partly as practice for MEI training -- I flew to Tahoe (TVL) from Reid-Hillview (RHV) in the Duchess (BE76).

The trip up was uneventful. Had a nice groundspeed of over 170 KTS thanks to a decent tailwind -- which would, of course, be a headwind on the way back. The interesting thing about going in to TVL is that we climbed to over 10K and then had to descend 4K to land -- field elevation is in the 6K range.

Density altitude can be rather scary, though. Yesterday (when we were there) it was about 7500'. It's amazing how poorly the BE76 performs at a 7500' runway! Landing seemed easy, but the departure was very interesting.

Depending on the winds, you have a choice -- depart on 18 and head straight for the tall mountains with some more mild but still significant rising terrain before you get to them, or take off on 36 and head straight over the lake. Despite a 7 KT wind, we tried each way -- with the assurances of my CFI.

Taking off on 18 was scary -- headed straight for rising terrain. Even the BE76 did not climb well and I headed off to the right (where the terrain rose more slowly) until I had enough altitude to turn left for crosswind. Approach and landing was uneventful.

Second departure was off 36 which, despite the fact that it was downwind, seemed to go almost as well, we were heading to TRK from here, so we headed straight out (with a slight turn to avoid the houses near the departure line) and were only at about 500' AGL before reaching the shoreline. I turned left and continued to climb as we flew around the circumference of the lake to fly over TRK.

For miscellaneous reasons regarding scheduling, fuel, strain on the aircraft, etc, we decided to just overfly TRK and head west along 80. Part way there, we decided to take a quick BRB at Lincoln airport (LHM) -- nice airport with a long runway. Despite that, we did a few practice short-field patterns there and then headed south (via Byron) back to RHV.

All in all, a nice day and a good experience in how the Duchess behaves at relatively high density altitude airports. Something I am glad I experienced for the first time *with* someone else who knows a lot more about that plane than I do!