West North Central things to see? / Bail out options planning

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by kaiser, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. kaiser

    kaiser Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Cool Beard Guy
    I’m flying to/towards Denver from Chicago Thursday and it seems they will have some weather. While my specific go/no go decision will occur as I get closer to my destination and based on real Wx, I’m starting to look at bailout options. I am instrument rated but both me and my [rental] airframe have a very low tolerance for icing.

    Given my route and the forecast movement of the weather, I’m aiming to plan bail out options N or NE of Denver, continuing my journey Friday morning. Initially I’m looking KBFF, KLBF to keep close to rhumb line. Looks like CYS and SNY may be implicated in the same Wx system.

    My question for the brain trust - are there any gems I’m missing? Must see places, FBOs, restaurants? Should I aim further North (like KRAP)?
     
  2. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    So it’s a week later, did you make it? How did the stops go? I adjust all the time based on wx, different fuel stops, land short, cancel, whatever. Max flexibility is a top safety tool. Onboard wx, Notams & some pre-trip weather study dictates a course of action.
     
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  3. kaiser

    kaiser Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the reminder. The trip went off without any unplanned issues and such I wanted to put down a quick report on it.

    This trip really kicked off the flying season for me and was built around the primary objective of buying new skiing equipment (boots, skis, bindings etc), as the stores in Chicago were already mostly empty. As a secondary objective and as time allowed, I wanted to hit the slopes for a day. I had an appointment with a ski shop and boot fitter for Friday evening near downtown Denver and since I also wanted to try and ski, selected Rocky Mountain Metro (KBJC) as my primary destination. Other factors that led me to metro was access to on-site rental cars and a hangar for each night. I took my club’s 2005 Diamond DA40.

    Being based in the western suburbs of Chicago (KDPA, Metro is 775nm away), I figured it was prudent to take 1/2 day Thursday to get some miles down. My original post was predicated on seeing a low pressure move across the Denver area bringing mainly rain and some snow at higher elevations. At that time, it appeared as if Wx would implicate areas north of Cheyenne as well. In the end I decided that Cheyenne (KCYS) was going to be my Thursday evening destination, even if it meant waiting weather out further NE, such as Scottsbluff.

    On the day I departed, I decided to leave extra early before my working day began and made it to Iowa City (KIOW) before any work meetings. I hung out at Jet Air for several hours while I worked my half day. They were kind enough to let me take over their Sim room. Overall friendly and fantastic service.

    After my half day of work, I departed IOW en route to Grand Island (KGRI). It would be from there I’d make the final call based on weather and timing. I had range to continue, but past Grand Island, the divergence between destination and bail out options grow significantly. Grand Island was nice for a fuel stop, but Tower kept giving me the runway with the greatest crosswind component - runway 17 when Wx is 110 @ 12G21. Not that this was beyond my/plane’s capability, but I have long feet and on that airframe, there is risk touching the brakes when the rudder is far deflected. It’s probably my biggest complaint on DA40s. I ended up getting Rwy 13 both landing and leaving.

    Upon leaving GRI, weather showed general rain coverage across Colorado with some returns over Cheyenne. Uphill (west) from Cheyenne it showed snow. As such I decided to aim for a waypoint mid way between Cheyenne and Scottsbluff. Between ADS-B and dialing AWOS/ASOS for airports ahead of me, I kept an eye on conditions. With uncertain weather, I also will leverage ATC and Flight Service. In the end it wasn’t necessary as weather continued to improve across the day. My biggest unknown was how weather systems behave in the high planes/Rockies.

    Other than a bit of moderate bumps to wake me up on a 2nm right base into Cheyenne, the flight was largely uneventful. I was surprised how many migratory birds I saw flying over the Platte River. I was at 8500MSL the whole way and I saw enough to not really want to ever fly low there. KCYS is now the highest airport I’ve ever landed, at 6160’ MSL. Mixture leaning techniques on the ground here for best power really matter!

    Friday morning again up and early before work, I commuted to Denver, following the front range. I figured this would be fine since the whole region had nearly calm winds. Can’t really describe the flight - absolutely gorgeous area. Denver approach controllers were extremely friendly, especially how busy the airspace is west of the bravo (not sure what I was expecting). I have FF with ADS-B so I “saw” how busy it was. Had to evade only 3 targets on that flight. For some reason they were really hard to spot. Metro was extremely busy. They were landing the 30s and had sent a few around. Sometimes it’s better lucky than good and I landed without any issue.

    I kept the plane at SheltAir. Really top notch service, but buyers beware - 200/night for hangars :eek:. Also the Hertz will end up quoting you a few hundred high, only to revise the charge to something appropriate.

    The trip home was Sunday. The Midwest had a swath of tango airmets and LLWS, so I opted for North Platte (KLBF) and DeKalb (KDKB) as my fuel stops. This would allow me to avoid any wicked winds or issues by flying over them. I flew at 11,500MSL and capitalized on the nice tailwind it afforded. Leaving Denver was interesting. Taking off on the 12s, Metro tower promised me that if I flew south, I’d get a bravo clearance. That was in fact not true at all and it gave the Denver departure controller a nice chuckle.

    I ate at lunch the Lincoln Highway Diner at North Platte. It was pretty good food and would recommend.

    Beyond my other firsts on this trip (highest airport, most I’ve ever paid for a hangar night, etc), KLBF to KDKB ended up being the furthest distance flown on a single leg for me at 551nm (~4hrs).

    And now some photos:

    Des Moines
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    Omaha Eppley
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    My FF view and watching ahead of me
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    Got to land between Blackhawks and C130s at Cheyenne
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    Wing view flying southbound from Cheyenne
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    Parked at SheltAir
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    Body bag (but it’s full of skis!). You know the Austrians made this a spec on their aircraft.
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    Last view of the Rockies before I turn east
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    Always check PulseOx when flying high!
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    Crossing the Mississippi
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