High Density Altitude Departure KIFP (Laughlin)

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Mooney Fan, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A long winded version. Sorry, but I learned about flying from that;

    I used to rent a 1970 Mooney M20C (180/hp) and one of my favorite trips was from my home field SZP (Santa Paula CA) to Laughlin NV. This flight was during the dog days of summer and my brother was visiting us so I suggested we go over to IFP for the night. I took the plane over to Oxnard the night before as I lived under the downwind for RWY 25 so it was an easy place to muster. Also decided to take my son with us. Worthy of note, we were all 200 plus pounds in those days and it came to haunt us later in the trip

    The next morning the typical low ceilings of Ventura county beach areas were in full force. The June gloom refused to abate well into late summer. Anyway, I finally got us out of OXR later in the morning punching up through breaks in the inversion layer. But as is typical, we were in CAVU within 5 miles on an easterly heading. I had yet to obtain my IFR rating so that delayed our departure.

    After an afternoon of fun in Laughlin my son and I retired to our room at the Edgewater which was my favorite place to stay. How cool it was to see the Mooney on the ramp across the river knowing she was waiting for us the following morning for the flight home

    And this is where things got 'puckery'

    I told my brother to be at the plane NLT 0800 as I wanted us to depart before the furnace of the day fired off. I had the Mooney pre-flighted and topped off with fuel and was ready to go at 0800. 0900 passed and no brother. Then 1000 and 1100 came and went. Me and my son were sweating our you know what off hanging out under the wing, walking around, and chatting with other smarter pilots making earlier departures. The local FBO did provide us a cool down when we took the long walk to the lobby but we spent most of the time by the plane as I did not want to miss him. Finally at high noon, I see a taxi heading down the ramp towards us and you guessed it, out rolls my brother looking like something the cat drug in. Shirt all buttoned wrong and reeking of alcohol. What a sight. Said he got hooked up with some 'Cuban Immigrants'. I commence to ream him a new one as I shoe horn my offensive tackle son into the back seat then me and my bro.

    We fire up and taxi out to Rwy 16. We were behind a Centurian who called tower and asked for an intersection take-off. That thing blasted out of there like a Saturn V. Then tower called, 'Mooney 42V would you like the intersection departure?' I gave a resounding NEGATIVE, full length. Rwy 16 is 8500' long and the taxi seemed like a drive on the 405 FWY.

    We were cleared for departure. By now the local temperature was somewhere north of 100 degrees and the density altitude had to be off the charts but I didn't check. But if I recall right, the ATIS did note it but I just can't remember. I did take that into consideration though, so I figured 8500' was ample length for us to safely depart. I also decided to add 10 mph of airspeed and rotate at 80 mph vs 70 mph. Coming fwd now to 26/26 the plane felt like it was going nowhere. It seemed like forever for the airspeed indicator to come to life and when it did, it seemed to settle at ~65 mph. Airspeed was lagging while the runway billboards were passing by. I knew I was approaching the point of no return. I either needed to abort or fly..... I elected to fly....

    I nursed her off the ground and held her in ground effect all the while the stall horn was beeping. Issue of note, there is rising terrain at the departure end of Rwy 16 and it was filling my windscreen. Holding her in ground effect was not producing speed or lift. I was starting to fear the worse when I told myself gear... GEAR! Fortunately, she had electric gear and I would of hated to have messed with a Johnson Bar system at this point. Raising the gear did put the stall horn to bed and she started increasing airspeed, but now I needed to clear the terrain...... and she wasn't going to do so... I didn't dare apply aileron in fear of a stall so I applied right rudder. She skidded to the right that promptly put us over the river. Even in August, the Colorado river is cold and the lift she provided allowed me to retract flaps, and climb out of the area all the while berating my drunk ass brother

    Lessons learned? Recognize the chain of events that can lead to a crash. My poor decision making by flying at gross, in mid August desert heat, departing at high noon, and not canceling were/are to never be repeated. My other poor decision not to abort the take-off could have caused a bad ending as well.

    Density altitude kills

    The good? My constant training when flying paid off. I was confident in my slow flight skills that proved to, I believe, save the day. My only other good decision was to not accept the intersection departure.

    Again, sorry for the long winded post. Even though this happened 20 years or so ago it seems like yesterday and hopefully, others can learn from my poor decisions made that hot August day

    Regards,
    MF
     
  2. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    The real important lesson is, if someone can't show up on time. They get left behind.
     
  3. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

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    omg, I am not sure I'd wait that long, even for paying pax - next time you get the taxi and go to his room by 8:30.
     
  4. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

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    wait a second, what was the field elevation? Even in the Grand Canyon, isn't the river only 2K high?
     
  5. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Yep -- they're different airplanes in the high and/or hot. And the last thing you want to do with a Mooney and its sharp-nosed wing, is try to make it fly or climb when it's not yet ready to do so. Take off with full rich mixture in those conditions and you lose even more power.

    I just took off a few days ago from Grand Canyon (8400' density altitude) in my 180 hp 172. Patience is the order of the day. She'll fly when she's ready, and not until.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  6. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    KIFP is at 707' MSL. On a (not-uncommon) 115-degree summer day, DA would be pushing 5,000'.
     
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  7. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Yep. Start ringing the phone 15 minutes before take off time, then rolled outta bed by a pitcher of cold water. Then I find out a person is late because they went out drinking..??? They will think the hang over is a walk in the park compared to how the flight will be.

    Paying passengers late.?? I got schedules to keep. Call back and reschedule.
     
  8. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You're right. Didn't know a Mooney would struggle with that weight and DA.
     
  9. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    She was a 180/hp plane at full gross. I guess I could of continued the roll longer but was concerned about the rising terrain.

    MF
     
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  10. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good point about the sharp nosed wing. One really needs to watch when performing maneuvers like lazy eights to come off the power after coming over the top our they'll push the yellow arc very quickly with VNE not far behind

    MF
     
  11. Walboy

    Walboy Line Up and Wait

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    What do you guys mean by "sharp nosed wing"? That's an unfamiliar term for me. Is there something about a Mooney's wing profile that has unusual stall characteristics or something?
     
  12. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Basically, the wing, leading edge, on a Mooney is not as thick (bolbous) as say a Piper. Here is a link to a thread here at the site where some folks explain the engineering of it all

    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/community/threads/laminar-flow-wing-how-does-it-work.70049/

    MF
     
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  13. Walboy

    Walboy Line Up and Wait

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  14. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Beech tried and rejected the "laminar" wing for the Bonanza -- twice. The first Bonanza prototype (1945) flew with a "laminar" wing, but after testing they went with the NACA 23 series for production. They tried again in 1961 with the experimental "Model O35", with a "laminar" wing and trailing-beam main gear. Cessna flew an experimental strutless 182 with "laminar" wing, as well as a proposed Cardinal-like 182 replacement, the Model 187. All of these were abandoned because they did not offer significant advantage over the originals.

    There is even some debate about how much the "laminar" airfoil contributed to the P-51's performance, or whether credit should go to "the very good manufacturing standards at NAA" (http://www.wp1113056.server-he.de/ABL/20-forschung/laminarfluegel/laminarfluegel_en.htm).

    Cirrus uses the new, non-symmetrical Roncz airfoil, as does the RV-9. All other two-seat RVs use the NACA 23012. Neither Cessna nor Beech currently builds anything propeller-driven with a NACA 6-series airfoil. Piper PA-46 has the NACA 23015.

    The high-AOA/high drag issue is not so much a problem if there is a surplus of power (e.g., P-51; to a lesser extent C-210) where the airplane can just power through the high-drag regime to a lower AOA. But in a relatively under-powered airplane (e.g., the original American AA-1 Yankee and 150 hp Cardinal), if you try to yank it off the ground prematurely, you can quickly run out of runway and ideas.

    The airfoils of several "laminar-flow" light airplanes were modified with more rounded leading edges, resulting in less drag at higher angles of attack, gentler stall characteristics, and little, if any, loss of cruising speed. Examples include the Cessna 177B Cardinal and 177RG Cardinal RG; Grumman-American AA-1A (and all Grumman-American two- and four-seaters thereafter); and the outer panels of the taper-winged Piper PA-28 and PA-32 series. Even Mooney fussed with the outboard leading edges in the "twisted-wing" M20F and M20G from 1966 to mid-1968.
     
  15. Walboy

    Walboy Line Up and Wait

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    Thanks, very informative as were your contributions in the linked thread.
     
  16. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Old dog w/o new tricks
    But... but... it's a dry heat.
     
  17. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    Question, did you lean for TO?
     
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  18. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ummm, wow. That plane sounds like a dog. I have had houses in Bullhead City (across the river from Laughlin) for over 8 years and have flown into and out of IFP probably almost 100 times. That runway is huge. Very long. I learned early on to fly mornings or evenings in the summer time just for turbulence, but have made a few mid-day summer flights. Never, ever had any where close to a situation departing either end of the runway. Could perhaps your throttle have slid back? prop not set to high RPM's? Not leaned for DA (which really shouldn't be an issue there anyway). I am 210 lbs, and many times flew with 4 pax. If you have a problem with IFP, how did you ever get airborne at SZP? IFP is at around 700'. Even a high DA day there isn't a problem with the long runway. I hope you never took that plane to Big Bear.

    I think this story is more about renting a dog airplane, rather than a cautionary high DA issue. Whatever the case, glad you worked it out. Leaning for DA is important no matter where you fly.
     
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  19. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    FAIL. No, I didn't

    MF
     
  20. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Like I said in my post, I ferried the plane over to OXR then departed from there with full load @ 180/hp.

    -MF
     
  21. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    455 Bravo Uniform
    Thanks for sharing!!
     
  22. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Try that in Ruidoso, NM with down drafts and you'll be eating granite ...
     
  23. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    Maybe a silly question but why use flaps on an 8500-ft rwy? Does the Mooney POH call for flaps on a normal takeoff?
    Flaps help on short or soft rwys but they are detrimental during high-DA takeoffs.
     
  24. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    This reminds me of a takeoff I did from Oshkosh on a really hot afternoon. Same idea, I didn't like the idea of an afternoon takeoff but circumstance forced me into it. The aircraft accelerated so poorly I thought I'd left he brakes on. I was genuinely worried that we wouldn't be airborne before the end of the runway, but we got off. Climb was anemic, even for the Cherokee, but we did make it up to a cooler altitude.

    I can tell you from experience that my Mooney M20c climbs like a dog with the gear out. Fortunately we of the Johnson bar set don't forget to retract the gear, do it early or hurt your arm. Haven't had the high DA thing with mine yet, but I get 500 fpm at 10K feet WOT, so I would think it could do it with an 8500 foot runway.
     
  25. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Final Approach

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    Mooney POH calls for takeoff flaps.
     
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  26. Paulie

    Paulie Line Up and Wait

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    Yes! May have saved JFK Jr.
     
  27. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    Two things about your takeoff:
    1. My 1970 M20-C has useful load of 970 lb, of which 300 is full fuel. You put three 200+ lb adults and how much baggage in? Bet you didn't do Weight & Balance . . . .
    2. Why did you do a partial power takeoff? WOT/2700 is full power, not 26"/2600! I've not visited an airport higher than 5100' msl, but had no trouble going in and out.
    Always check W&B! Pay attention when ATIS/AWOS mentions DA, they do that for a reason. My normal takeoff is Flaps Up, but when loaded heavy (near or to Gross), I use Takeoff Flaps.

    But in my experience, flying from warm land over cold water reduces lift--this is my typical final approach course in Alabama, crossing the river 100 yards or so downstream from the dam causes both a wiggle and a loss of altitude.
     
  28. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Warm to cold reduces lift? Wanna ‘splain the physics of that?

    Hint: it ain’t lift
     
  29. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    Come fly into Runway 13 at 41A. Air rising above the forest and city ("lift") is not rising above water exiting from the bottom of the dam. Call it what you like . . . .
     
  30. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A downdraft is a downdraft. Calling it a loss of lift is clear misunderstanding of the situation.
     
  31. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    It's not a downdraft, it's the moving out of a large parcel of rising air. That explains a brief loss of altitude, but not the wiggle.
     
  32. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Whatever you say.

    But why do you think air isn’t sinking over the cooler water? And what is the difference between flying out of an updraft and flying into a downdraft? Hmmmmm?

    Long story made short, calling it a loss of lift is wrong.
     
  33. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have always contended that Jon Jon Kennedy should have left and told his sister in-law to take Vineyard Air and meet them there....Paulie has it right.
    It's hard (family) but those family and friends who have flown with me have learned to BE ON TIME. Or not at all.

    It's a fundamental discipline and being "drunk ass" is not an asset.

    Simply, never invite your brother again. He put the entire family at risk. And then we would have all said, "what a good pilot you were". Thanks for sharing.
     
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  34. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    The weight and balance section of the owners manual of my 1962 Mooney M20c Ranger says not to put the heavy passengers in the back. That's it. Fortunately, Mooneys are pretty easily kept in CG. They don't fit that much.

    In a high density environment I always lean for max power. My owners manual calls for 20 degrees of takeoff flaps, two pumps, and there is a detent for it on the indicator. I use it because the book says to. I know folks who don't, and I've done no flap takeoffs. Not a big difference. I can easily understand leaving them out, one less thing to do on an already busy takeoff.
     
  35. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    It scares me to death to talk to pilots of small planes that are just passing through Gallup.

    I will ask if they are aware of the high density altitude. Usually around 9000 feet in summer with occasional DA of 10,000 feet.

    I saw one plane crash on short final because the plane no longer had enough power to keep it in the air. I have seen several start the take off roll, make it into ground effect then settle back on the runway.

    I always suggest to spend the night then plan on a 6 am departure.
     
  36. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 En-Route

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    I think the below is getting passed over. I'm sure Mooney Fan has used this lesson ever since.

    Good information in this thread. Thanks for sharing, MF.
     
  37. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    So true. High DA will rise up and smite thee.

    I stopped there en route to OSH in late July, and on takeoff made darn sure to triple-check best power. Also used every available inch of runway.

    We were right at max gross at 75 degrees ambient or so, and my airplane has never accelerated more slooooooowly. We lifted off at what seemed like mid-field and nursed her up in a gentle climb. So glad I had previous experience taking off from Big Bear on a hot day. It's good there is no rapidly rising terrain nearby!
     
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