It was one of those fine, late-fall, California desert nights: velvety-black, moonless and calm. The 182 took off from the North Las Vegas Airport bound for Rosamond, California, which is in the Mojave Desert about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. The pilots aboard, two ATPs who had logged between them 53,000 hours in military and civilian flying, possessed ratings and qualifications for practically every kind of aerial conveyance. Their airplane was turbocharged, and equipped with an autopilot and a Garmin G1000 panel that could display, among many other things, a terrain map. They had filed a VFR flight plan to cruise at 10,500 feet and contacted Las Vegas departure control shortly after taking off. Once in radar contact, the pilot left the frequency briefly to open the flight plan with Reno FSS; then returning to the departure control frequency, he exchanged a couple of routine transmissions with the controller.