Landing in a valley

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Salty, Jun 27, 2020 at 5:18 AM.

  1. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    This was probably my biggest challenge yet. I’ve flown a little in the hills, but most of my flying is in the south east where it’s pretty flat.

    Flew from Florida to Pennsylvania yesterday. We didn’t have much trouble dropping under the cloud layer, but as usual I did it too soon and the last 35 miles was a series of kidney punches flying over the last few ridges.

    The wind sock was straight out, not even a little sagging. We hadn’t heard a soul on the radio for this airport for those 35 miles. Now I know why.

    the wind was coming from the northwest and it took the entire rudder to keep the nose down the runway. When it gusted, it wasn’t enough. Lots of mechanical turbulence from the ridge.

    We were bouncing around like popcorn in an air popper, and in retrospect I should have come in a little hotter, but I landed on the center line and didn’t break anything.

    The ridge on the south is 1000 feet above the airport and the one to the north is about 1500 feet higher. A big deal to a Florida boy. The valley was plenty wide, but it was still challenging for me, especially after flying for 6 hours.

    66DC5625-D908-48E9-80F2-B64173D88446.jpeg
     
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  2. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Pattern Altitude

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    Fun, fun. But 6 hrs. Perhaps a rest stop at 4 hrs. Would have been a prudent action.
     
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  3. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    That's a long time in the saddle only to get the bronco ride once under the layer, and crossing the ridge lines. Welcome to the Keystone state! My family is from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton area. (KAVP)
     
  4. geezer

    geezer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have flown into such places a few times, and with high gust factors such as the ridges provide, I have gone around to get a better period of gusts than were present at the first try. Although I am a mostly Cessna pilot, I am inclined to believe that low wing is an advantage once you are on the runway, in terms of avoiding upset from gusts. An instructor taught me that when such conditions exist, several tries until you get what you are comfortable with is the answer. I have not done many go arounds, but bad timing on gusts are the primary reason.

    If your wife was unhappy with the pounding before the landing that can discourage the go around option, though.

    That 6 hours in the air hurt you two ways. Obviously fatigue and stiffness from too long in the seat, but also the low fuel load remaining reduced your roll resistance and inertia. Full fuel in the wing tanks can greatly improve the stability of a plane in rolling gusts. I have noticed that when landing empty, and taking off full on cross country flights on gusty days.

    At least there are no trees close to the runway causing very local wild variations in the gust pattern, That required a full deflection of the ailerons for 2 seconds, until out from behind a line of trees, followed by a more normal slip into the wind until touchdown.

    That is a very nice looking airport, is it a relatively new one, or a major upgrade on and old one? The webcam did show several flights by high wind, relatively light planes, but that was definitely a challenging day. Flight aware did not show an arrival from Florida, so did not see your track inbound.
     
  5. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I stopped for gas at 4 hours, so we stretched our legs. My wife would not allow a 6 hour stretch, surprised she made it 4.

    sorry to mislead, but 6 hours even broken up is not the same as 4.
     
  6. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I know that airport, very near to some family. Yes, crosswind in the ridges can be exciting!

    Below is my home airport here in TN, as you can see, lots of ridges around. It’s great no wind, OK with wind in line with the runway, and rotor city on a crosswind day. Add gusts to the xwind, and you start to sweat.

     
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  7. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I’m here for a family reunion. Technically P34 is closer to them, but I looked at that runway from the ground a few years ago and decided it was not for me.
     
  8. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I had the cameras along, but I didn’t think it would be exciting enough to bother with them. I was wrong. Lol
     
  9. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Welcome to the Northeast.
    Many of the airports in my area are at the bottom of a valley.
     
  10. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Safe on the ground....good job.
    I hangar about half year in Abingdon VA and can well relate to your experience. These mountains are not in the same league as out west but they still do eat small airplanes from time to time. Be careful.

    Couple things I’ve learned in the few years I’ve been flying up here:
    - use the knowledge of highway engineers by following interstates when possible...generally run through more gradually changing terrain, and
    - when taking off and climbing out of valley airports I’ve taken to circling over the airport to gain lots of altitude before turning to cross the ridges.

    enjoy the cooler temps up north.
     
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  11. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Speaking of VA, I landed at Mountain Empire a long time ago on an xwind day, earned that one! Here’s the terrain around that area.

    1D828287-2D02-4948-A2B1-1E0A09E5F63E.png
     
  12. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    :yeahthat: Been some changes at Mountain Empire over the last few years. You might not recognize it.
     
  13. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Still a pretty quiet place, got resurfaced a couple years ago. What did it used to be like?
     
  14. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    ...and there are a few Interstates that don’t follow gradual terrain changes: C9DAE106-AF17-482C-93D5-7220C123219A.jpeg
    I-77 passing between VA and WV, through the mountain.
     
  15. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    My airport sits oriented N-S in the beautiful Chenango Valley surrounded by 400-500 foot ridges to the east and west, and hills off the ends of both runways (one with 250 foot windmills seen in the background in the attached image). Burbly westerly crosswinds are perpetual. Anyone training here ain't skeered of no crosswind landings.

    [​IMG]
    (Interestingly, someone with spatial comprehension issues reversed this image left to right.)

    If you really want a treat flying into an airport in a congested valley, try Painted Post airport near Elmira, NY.
     
  16. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Yeah, airports in Valleys can usually produce a pucker factor. I usually come in a little faster and leave off the flaps, but do that in the Mooney and you can run out of runway real quick. Sounds like a damn good job by the Salty one.
     
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  17. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route

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    The winds can get pretty smart depending on time of day. Some local knowledge helps to know avoid it accuracy of AWOS and how winds are going to change on short final. I was flying home on ifr clearance last week to KHZL and the controller stepped me down slowly which is nice but put me right in the layer of anger. Was a fun 20 mile slog but got to log some IMC time so I’m not complaining- but my kid threw up on my on base to final-am complaining.
     
  18. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Sportiest crosswinds I’ve encountered of late are not in mountains, though - KCDK when onshore “breezes” off the Gulf can make that 2355’ a challenge. Salty should know those too being a Florida Man
     
  19. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    Lycoming, PA is another fun valley airport. As you come down final, you can eyeball the tractor-trailers coming down the mountain on the road beside you. That's a little weird.
     
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  20. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Back in the mid-60's it was short, narrow and I don't remember the second runway.
    But that was a long time ago.
     
  21. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Still just one runway...sure you’re thinking of Mtn Empire in VA?
     
  22. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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  23. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Just think of all the experience you got. You didn’t break anything . So overall it was a good day.
     
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  24. bluesky74656

    bluesky74656 Line Up and Wait

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    My most miserable flying experience to date was coming back to Cleveland from one of the Wings fly-ins, trapped between those mountains and a cloud layer that kept me at 4000 I think and into a 20+ knot headwind. I spent 3 and a half hours getting pounded up and down all the way back.

    Once I got home I logged into POA and saw that @flyingcheesehead flew about the same route as me, but on top of the clouds and was in smooth air. It was then that I resolved to get my IFR.
     
  25. skippers

    skippers Pre-Flight

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    Our valley 12K mountains, hangar and grass strip IMG_1104.jpg
     
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