North route to cross the Rockies

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by Jenny Law, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. Jenny Law

    Jenny Law Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi everybody, I am an instrument rated pilot.

    This summer, I am planning on flying across the U.S., in a Cessna150 with 150hp. I will be alone on board along with some light equipments, so the airplane will be lightly loaded. I am definitely aware of the weights, airplane performance, density altitude etc are all elements to think twice about.

    I am looking to find a North route around the rockies. The most common route I read about is to follow I-80. I am wondering if anyone has some inputs and airport recommendations. Each leg would be max 2 hours. I don't have constraints on where to land or how long the whole trip would take. So I guess the flexibility will help a lot in planning a better route, since I don't mind circuiting around.

    It would be nice if you can give me some advices, because you know us pilots are all about planning ahead! Thank you!

    *Correction! I’m looking for a North route, somewhere I could get to Portland or Seattle! But the most I could find is I-80, that’s why I used it as a reference. But I’m open to all suggestions!
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
  2. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I wouldn't really call I80 a northern route considering it cuts through the middle of the country. Where are you starting from and where are you ending up? That would give people something to work with.
     
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  3. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Welcome to PoA Jenny!
    Sounds like it'll be a fun adventure trip this summer.

    When you say "North" what comes to mind is crossing the Divide headed to Seattle. But, as KaiGywer posted above, I-80 is not that far north? Give us an idea of the cities you are trying to route through.
     
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  4. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Yes, folks have done the I-80 through the mountains route as one way of a avoiding the highest terrain in low powered aircraft. A few years ago a friend did that route in an RV12 LSA.

    The "but" I would add is to have some solid mountain flight training. Mountain routes are not just about altitude.
     
  5. Jenny Law

    Jenny Law Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you! I used I-80 as the reference because I couldn’t find many resources. I’m thinking of further North to Portland or Seattle! I don’t have a destinated route or place I’ve to be, so I’m very open to suggestions!
     
  6. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I-90 to Spokane, then follow the Columbia River to the coast...
     
  7. Jenny Law

    Jenny Law Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you so much for your welcoming message! It’s nice to have a platform for pilots to share. I’m thinkinh of a further north route, but I don’t have much input yet, I-80 was the other route I found. I’m excited for the adventures ahead!
     
  8. Jenny Law

    Jenny Law Filing Flight Plan

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    I’m for sure going to take mountain flying course before I take on the adventures. I’ve done seaplane and mountain flying training in Alaska last year. Still hoping to learn as much as I can!
     
  9. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    More or less what I did on my trip Billings --> Helena --> Missoula --> Kalispell --> Coeur d'Alene --> Wenatchee
     
  10. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A much more scenic route, IMO.
     
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  11. Scott@KTYR

    Scott@KTYR Pattern Altitude

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    Welcome to POA. Where are you starting from?
     
  12. Martin Pauly

    Martin Pauly Pre-Flight

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    Jenny, from where to where are you trying to go on this trip? I-80 takes you to some pretty high terrain; you'll want to stay way north of there.

    With no constraints on where to land or how long the whole trip would take, you can turn the trip itself into an experience. There are many cool places to see if you have the time to stop and explore.

    A few years ago I went from Iowa to California with stops in Rapid City, SD, Yellowstone National Park, and Cascade, ID. I made a little video of the trip going into some detail on the route planning and what route options I considered. Maybe it'll be helpful for you and give you some ideas.

    Should be a fun trip!

     
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  13. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    I-90 is the lowest you can cross.
    The least high terrain to cross is Casper to Ogden.
    Casper to Pocatello is not too bad either.


    Your biggest worry will be winds, the low airspeed of the 150 and the predominate west winds.
     

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  14. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 Pattern Altitude

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    I don’t know what kind of navigation equipment you have but:
    SEA V2 HLN
    highest point is 8087’


    Tom
     
  15. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    US Highway 2 from Cut Bank MT to Kalispell, over Marias Pass, is the lowest (5,213 ft. MSL) crossing of the Continental Divide north of New Mexico. If follows the old Great Northern Railway Empire Builder route along the southern border of Glacier National Park. It is spectacular. I flew it a few years ago westbound at 10,500 in a 160-hp Grumman Cheetah.

    Mvc-731s.jpg
     
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  16. MountainDude

    MountainDude Pre-Flight

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    That is gorgeous!

     
  17. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Don't follow the R/R, it goes thru a couple tunnels..
    Following Highway #2 you will chase a couple valleys to stay low.

    Casper do an end around to the wind river range, jump one ridge (@ 10,000') east of Pocatello Id and your all done with the high country. then its south of the bitter root range Boise, LaGrange, Wenatchee, Everett. (PAE)
    Remember it is weather .. weather .
     
  18. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, if you're gonna take the scenic route... May I recommend starting with I-90. Stop in Wall, SD for lunch at Wall Drug, which is a short walk from the airport. Heading further west from there, you can fly over Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, then Devils Tower a bit to the northwest of that.

    BTW, I don't think you'll have too much trouble with performance on a C150-150. That's a fair bit more power than the plane originally had and gives you a power loading of between 10 and 11 pounds per hp depending on your gross weight. I've done several west coast trips in a C182 (12.83lb/hp) and my Mooney (12.02lb/hp) so a 10-lb/hp loading is even better than that.

    I would suggest a fuel stop at KSHR if you'll need food, KGEY if you won't... Sheridan has a courtesy car and really excellent service; Greybull has cheap self-serve fuel and an aircraft museum/boneyard of sorts - It was the home of Hawkins & Powers aerial firefighting before they went out of business, and the big ol' WWII-Korea era bombers that they used are all just sitting out there to be ogled. There's a B-24, a KC-97 with the extra pair of jet engines, and some others.

    At that point, you're just east of Yellowstone. The Grand Prismatic Spring is a must-see sight from the air - It's located about 15 miles and 120 degrees ESE of KWYS West Yellowstone. On the sectional, it's right where T331 crosses the river between the road and the power line just about due north of Old Faithful (which isn't nearly as impressive from the air).

    From there, head to KMYL McCall, ID and get some mountain/backcountry instruction from the folks at http://mountaincanyonflying.com/ - 15 years and 2000 hours into this GA flying thing, this is still both the most fun and best learning experience I've ever had, and I've been lucky enough to have many.

    Once you leave McCall, you're basically on the home stretch - Terrain gets lower and you can proceed to wherever you want. I would suggest going to take a look at Mount St. Helens up close and personal - Spirit Lake is still covered in trees and you can still see where the lava/mud flowed on 5/18/1980 from the air.

    If your destination in the northwest isn't specific, I would suggest going out to Tillamook - It's a beautiful little place, somewhat isolated from everything else by terrain, and has an aviation museum in a giant old blimp hangar. Another worthwhile place to spend a day is the Evergreen Air & Space Museum, where they have the Spruce Goose and several other relatively-rare aircraft. One of the better museums around, IMO. And if you head up toward Seattle, you can visit Boeing.

    There's plenty of non-aviation places to go and things to see in the PNW, too. It's a great region to spend some time in. Have fun! :)

    Rough route: (Wherever you're starting from) 6V4 RULER KCUT WY14 KWYS/120/15 KMYL HELNS KMMV KTMK
     
  19. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Got to remember he has a max 2.5 hour fuel load.
    The 0-200-A burns 4.-5.0 gals per hours
    The 0-230 burns 8-10 per hour.
    you still have 24 gal max.
     
  20. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Fly into Missoula, gas and rest. then go high and go long.
    Climb out go direct Spokane.
     
  21. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The article I read about the 150-150 said it upgraded the tanks to 40 gallons.

    Either way, there are still plenty of airports if one plans their trip carefully.
     
  22. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My only suggestion would be to replace KCUT with KRAP. More food and lodging options, and according to Airnav, the fuel is actually cheaper :)
     
  23. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That wasn't a "land at every airport" route, just a flight path suggestion. :) I chose KCUT because it's close to Crazy Horse.
     
  24. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    the two I've flown didn't have bigger tanks.
    I wonder if the one in question does?
    40 gallons of fuel, with out a gross weight increase would make it a 1 person aircraft.
     
  25. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The one I flew had about 75 pounds left over after full tanks and one person... And it was a tailwheel conversion, so minus the weight of the nosewheel!
     
  26. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It sounded like there was a gross weight increase available too. Maybe the OP can enlighten us as to what hers has? #AvGeeks
     
  27. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Cleared for Takeoff

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    The last time I did it was years ago, but when I was a kid, the family and I would fly from Oregon to Iowa every summer in my dad's bonanza. In generalities, our outbound trip was like KEUG-KPUW-KMLS-KPIR over a couple days to cross into the plains, and on the way back it was KRAP-KMSO-KPSC-KEUG. Don't remember the specific airways/navaids used en route, but we generally were over roads or the interstate. Again, this was summertime, so icing and IFR conditions normally weren't an issue, and we would fly early to minimize the turbulence. It's a pretty flight. Once you get west of the rockies, trucking up the gorge to PDX is pretty straightforward.......just do everyone a favor and fly up the right/north bank if you are VFR westbound down the gorge and obviously be at the appropriate VFR cruise altitude :) Oh yeah, and Troutdale looks similar in some conditions to PDX.......it is well to the east, and you wouldn't be the first to accidentally land there. Seattle is an easy trip from there, west of the cascades. Boeing Field is actually pretty GA friendly from what I remember, when going there as a student pilot.
     
  28. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    My trip from Seattle to fargo was this - KPAE-KCOE- KBIL-KBIS-KFAR

    Close to 4 hrs on every leg going west apart from the last one, plenty of airports in between apart from the first leg where we pretty much followed 90 at 10k.
     
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  29. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Anyone thinking of stud run-in down the gorge ---- "Don't do it"! ------ a front moving inland will produce winds you can't believe.

    That's why it is the wind surfing capital of the US.
     
  30. MountainDude

    MountainDude Pre-Flight

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    If you are going to be near Glacier NP, I highly recommend you see it from the air. It is incredible.
     
  31. Martin Pauly

    Martin Pauly Pre-Flight

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    I like the route you suggested - and I agree 100% on the Grand Prismatic Spring; it's hard to get a good look at the whole thing from the ground, but from the air: WOW!
    07 Grand Prismatic Spring.jpg 08 Grand Prismatic Spring.jpg
     
  32. ThereByAir

    ThereByAir Pre-Flight

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    FWIW... just a brief look at a flight from Seattle area to east of the Rockies, this would be my route in a 150. The profile view shows 11,000 feet would easily clear all terrain in this route, and that's doable in a lightly loaded 150/152, especially if you plan your highest crossings when it's cool and winds are light. If you're willing to follow canyons you could get through even much lower.

    When I was a new pilot, I flew a 150 from Prince George BC to North Carolina. It can be done!

     

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  33. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    There is no reason to cross the Cascades at 11,000', both I90 and US 2 can be crossed at 3500' safely.

    And OBTW, there are no canyons that will allow you to cross the Cascades IF .. IF you follow the valley from AWO to Darrington you must be 8000' to cross the ridge to the east.
    I-90 (Snoqualime Pass) Pronounced as Snow-Qual-a-mee has more aluminum hung in the trees than any other pass in the state.
    Us 2 (Stevens Pass) is the easiest to do. east to west, be at 4000' at Leavenworth, and cross direct as soon as you are west of the ski area you can start your decent to PAE.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
  34. ThereByAir

    ThereByAir Pre-Flight

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    The first sentence in her post says she's instrument rated. I assumed she was looking for a possible IFR route. 3500' ain't gonna do it IFR.

    The route between Great Falls MT and Seattle area is also fairly low terrain. Could probably get across there between 9-11k feet.
     
  35. ThereByAir

    ThereByAir Pre-Flight

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    Highest MEA on this route between SEA - MLP is 9100', then it goes to 13000', but that's probably a VOR limitation, not terrain. Might be able to get lower vectored if you have certified GPS. Could also do that segment VFR and have plenty of terrain clearance.
     

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  36. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Years ago when we were flying 6988S a 68 C-150, I'd launch from Oak Harbor, Fly to Omak Wa load up engine parts from the salvage yard. and fly home. about 1.0 east, 1.5 west.
    Beware a hot day :) full fuel, and 100 pounds of junk. once I had to wait until 0300 until it cooled enough to climb over the rocks to get home. In those days I would climb to 8000' and go direct
     
  37. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Any one Flying a 150 in IFR weather over the Cascades isn't the smartest pilot we have. Look at V-120 or V-2 minimums.
     
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  38. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    It's radar coverage.
     
  39. ThereByAir

    ThereByAir Pre-Flight

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    Help me out here... You say there is no reason to cross the Cascades at 11k, but then your next 3 sentences talk about no canyons to go through, IF twice in all caps, metal in the trees, at least 4000', etc....

    Kinda seems like a lot of good reasons to go at 11k feet where none of that comes into play. Am I wrong?
     
  40. ThereByAir

    ThereByAir Pre-Flight

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    Are you aware you can fly IFR in VFR weather? There's a difference between IFR and IMC.