3658 NM Western Cross Country Help

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by Radar Contact, Sep 4, 2021.

  1. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Pattern Altitude

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    I've been flying General Aviation for over 20 years and haven't made it west of the Rockies. Looking to change that in October. I have loosely planned out a flight to meet some of my wife's request on things she'd like to see. I know I am missing tons of "while you're out there" stuff but this all needs to be done in a week. Don't worry about get-there-itis...I have no problem leaving the plane somewhere or picking a completely different path home on the fly.

    Looking for suggestions about routes and/or airports selected. I'm trying to stay VFR as much as possible to actually see new sites. I'm trying to stay as low as possible because while we do have a 2-person O2 system, I'm not sure if each airport has the ability to fill it (I'll be calling them to verify when I have the routes mostly established). I fly a normally aspirated 310 and haven't had (won't have before this trip) specific mountain training.

    1) KARR direct KDHT - 743nm -this is just a quick fuel stop
    2) KDHT.TAFOY.KGCN -477nm -after the fuel stop this route would be around 11am to 130pm local

    3) KGCN.VPGCH.VPGCI.VP815.VPGCG.VP792.VPGCF -64nm tour of the canyon. Understand 11.5 North and 10.5 South and reports on 120.05. Anything I'm missing here?

    4) KGCN..PGS..PMD.WIJYI.KVIS -423nm -This is to see Sequoia Forrest/Park

    5) KVIS..CCR.SABLO.CA27.VP940.KAPC -215nm -low pass of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate on the way to Napa...she wants to go visit wine country.

    6) KAPC..LLC..BAM.PARZZ.PIH..IDA.LO.KWYS -652nm -this is where I really question my route without experience, etc. I originally planned the Northern follow I90 home from the west coast route to keep it easy. Given Napa to Yellowstone...this seems like an okay route but would love to hear from others. Also, getting into and out of KWYS in October??

    7) KWYS.U53.Raynolds Pass.KEKS.9S5.KBZN.ZUBLI.6S0..6S3.KBIL.HERKA.KCUT -470nm -again, with no experience around here, curious of the thoughts of those with experience. The goal is safest/easiest from Yellowstone (if ya'll don't talk me out of going there) to Mt Rushmore/Crazyhorse area.

    8) KCUT..KARR -679nm -looks fairly easy.

    Hopefully I didn't ramble on too long here and a few of you that know these areas well can pull up the routes and let me know your thoughts.
     
  2. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    3) I’ve done the Grand Canyon. West end between KBVU and GCN. Got a little bumpy.

    4) If you go on a weekend you have a good chance of getting shortcuts through the Restricted Areas. Beware of winds in excess of about 25 knots or so. I’ve been beat up in that area. Pay attention to Pireps and ride reports. You might start now paying attention to ride reports and comparing them to winds aloft to get a feel for it.

    Hope the fires ease up a bit for you between now and then. There are some righteous views out yonder here in the West.
     
  3. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for the info. Hopefully the fires subside big time or I’ll have to re-work this trip. I’m not flying into unfamiliar mountainous terrain with smoke.

    Hopefully someone who has flown central CA to Yellowstone route can give me some thoughts as well.
     
  4. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Interstate and major highways are your friends for many reasons as are early take offs and landing early afternoon.
     
  5. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Sedona is worth a detour 68 nm to the south of Grand Canyon.
     
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  6. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    For leg 5, there is not much to see from KVIS to KCCR. You might consider heading to the coast and then up the coast, hang a right at the Golden Gate Bridge, cross Alcatraz and direct KAPC.
     
  7. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Your Napa to West Yellowstone route looks just fine. The biggest hump will be the Sierras near Tahoe, but totally doable. Your 310 has the TSIO-520s, right? Even if NA, (or even in a 172, a year and a half ago I got to fly essentially that same route, to Placerville, westbound in a 172, eastbound in a Dakota) still doable. The stretch across Nevada is pretty desolate, and there's some tall desert ridges along there, too. West Yellowstone, that area could be really nice clear fall weather, or, it could get early winter-like storms, too. KWYS does close for the winter, but I think they run till Oct 31st. Once there, your route north and eastward works, too, but you can find lower routes through Cody, Jackson, etc., if desired.
    Yes, oxygen is not necessarily available at smaller airports, planning ahead will be required for refills.
    Hopefully, fire season will be on the wane by then, it's been pretty smoky everywhere in the west.
    Sounds like an epic trip, enjoy!
    (p.s. I've viewed a few of your youtube vids, love it!)
     
  8. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    KJQF - come enjoy the flatlands of charlotte and have a beer or three with your buddy eman. hey, we're west of something....
     
  9. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Fly early to avoid the bumps.
     
  10. Topper

    Topper Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You should consider November and we can have a glass of wine in Napa! We fly from KS to Napa in November, usually stay low for winds and climb as we approach the mountains and strap on the O2 in the 310. Stop in page for fuel on the way and usually stop in Farmington on the way back. Looking forward to the pressurized trip in the 421 this year.
     
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I'm no help at all, but I wanted to tag this thread in case someone does have something useful. We're planning to use KCOD, coming from KRAP in June. I had originally planned KWYS, but the terrain is friendlier east of the park and we'll be heavy. Hopefully we'll have a nice calm morning we can hop over the Sylvan Pass and see the park from the air. I'd like to see the Tetons as well, and maybe even land at KJAC.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
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  12. wayne

    wayne Pattern Altitude

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    The Atlantic?



    Wayne
     
  13. iflyvfr

    iflyvfr Pattern Altitude

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    Enroute to KGCN consider a flyby or even early lunch at UT25. You can get oxygen at KPGA then head down to GCN. Adds 50 nm but you and the missus wouldn't be disappointed by the views. One of the greatest of the many highlights of my own 'Great Western Trip'.
     
  14. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    I did the Grand Canyon from SE WI two years ago. We beelined it to Raton, NM for the 1st overnight. After that included some sites along the way, Ship Rock, ‘4-corners’, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, then a G.C. corridor inbound to KGCN.

    I didn’t have or need O2, went VFR. We stayed at the Whittington Center in Raton, just a few miles from the airport. After GCN we went over to St George for a few days, then came back more or less the same route. The Raton airport gets high marks for service.

    I found the corridors in the G.C. airspace rather quiet at the GA 10.5 & 11.5 altitudes. The tour operators were below, no factor. Keep an eye on the winds forecast, can whip up in a hurry out west.
     
  15. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    I flew GCN tours in 1990 in CE-402s.

    I would consider doing the CGN tour on the Twin Otter instead of your own airplane. The tour aircraft will be lower and fly over more of the Canyon than you can with the SFAR 50-2 restrictions. You can do a self-guided tour on your GCN-VIS leg. Get the SFAR 50-2 chart and plot a trip westbound through the SFAR airspace above the minimum sector altitudes. No need to stay South on the GCN-PGS leg.

    Sedona, as mentioned, is also worth a stop and isn't too far off your plan at C-310 speeds. Lots of interesting terrain to fly around there.

    Meteor Crater (Winslow, AZ) is also not far off your route. Might be worth a fly over. Insert INW into your route from DHT to GCN.
     
  16. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    Went up and down the coast twice this weekend. Smoke and TFRs are making it not-great-but-still-beats-airlines flying. Expect reroutes if you're IFR, as a few airways are impacted -- I got popped up to 13K on V23, and of course, O2 bottle empty, so I got to partially asphyxiate the family for 12 minutes. :D It was my first time having to set an O2 "regs timer" -- they were not offering deviations around the TFR, and Center's workload was quite high, so I didn't push it any further.

    Lots of widespread areas of 3sm vis or less, from 4K up to as high as 11K. Pretty much everything between Redding and Medford was that way on Friday.

    I agree that VIS to CCR sucks scenery-wise. It might be worth a little time to research how to do a "Bay Tour" over SFO. It's a hoot. Failing that, and if you don't want to talk to our poor, saturated auctioneer-speed NorCal Approach controllers, you might at least consider flying over the west coast or Big Sur instead, west of the class B and still enjoy calm frequencies and nice scenery enroute to APC. Maybe replace CCR with HAF and plan on bopping northbound at 3000 or so to keep under the bravo (or just do 10500 over it all and avoid the crazy). On that side they'll probably clear ya for higher if you ask nicely :)

    Also expect a bit of reduced performance within 100nm of the TFRs -- it's hot and still aloft. I had to plod down the coast at a shameful 170kt last night -- was showing OAT 68F at 7500 which is simply hideous when there's an ocean under you.

    Not sure why you were queried about the turbos. I've had no trouble in the mountain west in an NA twin. I think a 310 is slightly better performing than a similar Baron so you shouldn't have any issues. Just be ready for those mean 2000fpm downdrafts you'll need to nose down-and-thru to escape.

    $0.02
     
  17. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    He is west of the infamous "Currituck County" airport!
     
  18. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The fires seem to be getting worse every year, so it's difficult to predict when the visibility in California will get better.

    I heard that the national forests here are closed to visitors because of the fire danger. I'm not sure about the parks.
     
  19. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I used Sparky Imeson's Mountain Flying Bible in connection with my mountain-flying training.

    https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Flying-Revised-Sparky-Imeson/dp/1880568179/

    Note that the author died in a mountain-flying accident. That doesn't mean his book is no good, IMO. It does mean that mountain flying should not be taken lightly.

    The route you're planning across the Southern California mountains is a relatively benign way to go, but even there, I once encountered a very strong downdraft approaching Tehachapi Pass northwest of Palmdale. It was strong enough so that I felt it necessary to turn away from the ridge until I found an updraft, which I then used to spiral upward to a much higher altitude than I normally use there. Fortunately, I had an oxygen bottle.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2021
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  20. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Kevin,

    You should stop in at McMinnville, OR (KMMV) to see the Spruce Goose. The Museum of Flight in Seattle is also a great stop-over. Put a couple of bikes in the 310 and stop in Moab, UT after KWYS. It is a famous biking area. But you are missing the BEST places here in Colorado like Durango for the Cliff Dwellings Nat'l Monument, Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park in Alamosa, CO and, of course, Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park just north of Denver!! I am based at KFLY (Colorado Springs) in my Arrow 200 (non-turbo) and if I can do the mountains so can you. A lot of the hotels in West Yellowstone area may be closed by October and you are likely to have snow in some places. Definitely keep your O2 tank filled and ready just in case a re-route over high terrain becomes necessary.
     
  21. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    If your route has you considering a stop near Page, AZ i yhink you two would enjoy it. The tour of the power damn is great and makes for some great pictures. But then since in town also do the Antelope Canyon guided tour. Great photography/video destination. Not sure if its a good stop prior to crossing the Grand Canyon but thought I'd mention it.

    +1 For tweaking your route a bit to get a shot of the Meteor Crater near Winslow, AZ.
     
  22. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Don’t mean to disparage the mountain flying guru, but went to look up his accident. I see he had another 2 years prior.

    https://www.avweb.com/news/ntsb-mountain-flyer-imeson-collided-with-trees-in-fatal-crash/

    I come at this Mtn flying from a slightly different direction. That being, of course the awareness, techniques, with adequate planning & margins, but then don’t feel the need to shoehorn into a tight airport. It seems ‘some’ take the Mtn/high altitude instruction then ‘assume’ things are O.K. for that airport with minimum margins.



    This isn’t something the O.P. doesn’t know, most others too. Over the years some have been unaware, plane type factors in.
     
  23. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I'm looking forward to reading everyone's advice for your northerly Rockies crossing and Grand Canyon tour. Those are both flights I haven't done but would like to.

    I flew the 310 VFR from KRAP to KGJT in February without any problems. I think the route was basically just via KDWX to get around the higher rocks. So if you don't need to get to the Idaho or Montana stops and/or if weather gets in the way of that route, this might be part of an alternate route.

    The Spruce Goose is out of the way but everyone must get there eventually, so it might be worth the diversion. Actually, that museum would be worth it even if they didn't have anything at all from Hughes. There's an Me 262 parked right next to the H-4 and an SR-71 across the patio, just for starters.

    I haven't flown into Sedona, but I have stayed at the hotel next to the airport and watched the sunset from the parking lot. If you are looking at an overnight stop somewhere in that area, I recommend exactly that place and I would be surprised if you stay there and your wife doesn't agree with my assessment.

    Make sure your climate control is in good shape before the trip. Last night at 10,000, I discovered that the fresh air hose had come disconnected from the Wemecs valve, and the heater won't fire up in the air. I'm still a little chilled. Keep extra blankets and gloves in case of any issues like that along the way. And if your heater struggles to light at altitude, just fire it up before you take off each time and use the temperature control if you need to cool off.

    Westjet FBO at KRAP has solid 310 know-how. If you end up having any issues in that part of the country, talk to them. Or talk to them anyhow, they're good folks.
     
  24. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Solid advice. I got a pop-up clearance when I was flying over Colorado and they stuck me at 13,000 for a while. If I had just thrown my portable tank in the plane, I wouldn't have had thoughts of declaring an emergency just to deviate from the 30-minute rule. Fortunately, they got me down to 12,000 in time to obviate those thoughts.
     
  25. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Museum of Flight (Seattle) and the Evergreen Museum (McMinnville OR) are excellent. But for a wonderful and airworthy collection of pre-WW2 general aviation types, you can't beat the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM) at Hood River, Oregon (4S2). As the name implies, there's a good collection of old cars, too. Very scenic location in the Columbia Gorge about 60 miles east of Portland.
     
  26. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I recommended Imeson's book because it goes into detail on things that a pilot needs to know for flying in or around tall mountains; things like mountain wave, rotors, downdrafts that can exceed the climb capability of the airplane, and the possibility of severe or greater turbulence. I agree with your cautionary remarks. His accidents imply that one should apply greater safety margins than he suggested.
     
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  27. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  28. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Line Up and Wait

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    It’s been mentioned before, but I’d recommend KRAP over KCUT just for rental car availability if nothing else. Fly over the area and maybe even check out 3V0 (Custer State Park, no services), but then park at KRAP if you want to explore the area.
     
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  29. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    KRAP is a nice FBO and I think @Z06_Mir (hope I have that right?) and her husband also have a 310. Maybe a 310 couples formation flight over Mt.Rushmore :)

    Spearfish is also a great field, great FBO and they will set you up at the Holiday Inn which has a rather nice restaurant (breakfast or dinner). And they will setup a car. If you want to cut airport to hotel time spearfish will be a lot quicker - the KRAP field is quite a ways from town.

    Depending on route, forgot to mention flying over Devils Tower.

    Mt.Rushmore is sort of a "gotta do it once" destination. Crazy Horse less so given the slow pace and distance from Visitor Center. But of all my trips out there I have enjoyed the Spearfish area and especially the Devil's Tower visit. Custer area is also nice. They can't do it all though on their trip.
     
  30. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    Finally put the route into Skyvector to see it all. Just dumb thoughts but here goes:

    1.) Maybe you can leave yourself the option to go to Driggs (KDIJ) which I hear is a great airport and FBO. They should be able to top off 02 there.
    2.) Or if WX permits, go to KJAC instead...I'm thinking you two will enjoy that stop alot. And the sun lights up the Tetons in the morning as your flight out.
    3.) For KWYS, or KDIJ or KJAC....I would think you would overly Yellowstone and follow the road out to Cody (KCOD). Unless you have a reason to conquer the bigger rocks to the north it would seem the route via Cody cuts some time once you are swinging back home towards KCUT area.
    4.) That first day is a heck of a long day. If you guys have never visited the Grand Canyon I can see the appeal to overnight there. But if you have been there, done that I would think a stop in Page and launching from there in the morning and the over flights might be something new.

    For all of your flying, if its just the two of you and you have oximizer cannulas I would think a Medical D sized O2 bottle or aviation equivalent (415L or 14.6cf) would only require one top off or fill during your trip. With Oximizer cannulas you will probably flow at most 2.5lpm for both of your and and usually 1.5lpm. On one of our post mx test flights a few weeks ago Kari and I went up to 13,000ft and cruised a bit. We were at 2lpm and she was running 96% and I was 93%. I think that is my 4th use of that bottle and it still has over half left. I like the oximizers with the pouch down inline vs the moustache versions. For youtube video that style may be less distracting. Its nice to visually see the small sac refilling indicating it doesn't have hole or rip in it. No substitute for a visual flow indicator but more peace of mind. In my limited experiences, having more than one pulse oximeter is also handy. They are cheap. Then you each have your own.

    For that trip I think I'd get a inReach if you don't fly with one already. No internet ability but you can send and receive texts in a crude fashion. Whole other topic I guess (survival stuff).
     
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  31. Z06_Mir

    Z06_Mir Pattern Altitude

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    We sold the 310 and miss her every day :( But if I could convince the new owner to bring it down I'd be up for a formation flight in her!

    And I do agree, the FBO at KRAP is quite nice, and good merchandise too ;)
     
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  32. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Surely you held some small part of the plane hostage to entice the new owner to bring the old girl to Rapid for visitation, formation flights, and the like. You'll have an easy time convincing the new owner to show up.

    It's the KRAPpiest merch available anywhere.
     
  33. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It would be worth it to make a stop for a day or 2 in Denver/Cheyenne/Casper area and find an experienced mountain CFI and take a lesson before continuing west. Even at lower altitudes around here (meaning 9000 msl) understanding how you and the airplane operate at higher altitudes, how geography impacts the weather and flying in general, is important. Reading it a book is fine, but experiencing it with a knowledgeable CFI can’t be beat. I can read all the books on playing piano but it’s not the same as sitting down at the keyboard.
     
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  34. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    And water, fire starter, and a good PLB.
     
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  35. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    Definitely leave Yellowstone on the itinerary! I heard reservations were required to get into the park earlier this summer, so maybe check into that. If you can swing it I would fly up the coast to at least Astoria and then work your way east following the Columbia. But you could spend a week sightseeing in the PNW so maybe that's another trip? Nothing wrong with your plan through NV, but it's pretty desolate so maybe consider flying the airways?
     
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  36. Z06_Mir

    Z06_Mir Pattern Altitude

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    It's important to keep small items hostage for times like these.

    When we're in KRAP we do offer mountain training in your aircraft. It's not the full taste of the Rockies but we can do a lot with what we have in the Black Hills.
     
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  37. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    We flew in on our way to Oshkosh this year. Piece of cake - rental car at the FBO. No reservations for Yellowstone -- waited maybe 5 minutes at the gate before getting in (Thursday afternoon).
     
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  38. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Line Up and Wait

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    Speaking to the section of the route between KAPC - KWYS - KCUT, the question won’t be about route or your airplane’s performance, it will be 100% about weather. There are no mountains in this part of the country that your 310 won’t be able to clear with ease.

    October mountain flying is usually pretty binary - either clear, cold, and beautiful, or nasty and not worth attempting. Fly in the morning, watch the winds aloft, and don’t mess around with weather and you could fly the entirety of that portion of the route direct (and I would - for instance, I don’t see why you would fly West Yellowstone to Custer County via Bozeman and Billings, unless you wanted to go to Bozeman and Billings specifically).
     
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  39. Captain Bubba

    Captain Bubba Pre-Flight

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    Not far from meteor crater is the San Francisco Mountain volcano field. In that area you will find dozens of cinder cone volcanos and lava flows that are amazing to see from the air. Lake Powell is more interesting to see from the air than the Grand Canyon and it stretches on for more than 100 miles to the east. Out that direction is Ship Rock which is worth flying by.

    As others have suggested, I always plan to have all my flying done by around noon when I go out west. Usually not fun after that.
     
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  40. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf En-Route

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    Apr 12, 2016
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    3,226
    Location:
    Illinois

    Display name:
    NRG
    I'll probably beat you out west. I'm leaving Sep 30. Hope you have a nice time.