nels

Routing advice from Denver to south west

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If things go right I will be flying to Denver to visit son and daughter, then to 0E0 in Moriarty, NM to visit a friend, then onto Falcon Field, FFZ, near Mesa, Az to visit another friend then back home to I69 near Cincinnati. This could happen within the next few months. I have no mountain flying experience so I’m wondering what is a conservative route, what's Ok and what is just not a good idea. Not worried about flying a little south east from Denver to 0l0 if recommended and even flying from there along the east side of the mountains to El Paso then over toward Tucson and back north if its the best thing to do. But, flying from 0l0 to maybe Winslow, Az and going South sure would be shorter. Any predictable conditions to look for?

Edited by nels

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Denver south to Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, then head towards Phoenix.

Fly early AM, all permitting.   Less chance of weather and turbulence.  

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The Rockies/ Sandia tend to develop CB starting in the late morning. Flew from Vegas to Denver a few months ago. Stopped in Los Alamos around 10AM, by 1PM the CB had already built up preventing me from flying up the valley and through one of the passes.  Ended up up going east from Santa Fe and up around the east side of the mountains.  It was plenty bumpy, like flying in a washing machine  

On the way back I left Denver early and went through Mosca Pass at 12.5k, the air was silky smooth. 

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The weather is quite seasonal. The afternoon thunderstorms are mostly done for the season. The biggest thing are the winds and the barometric pressure. If the winds are strong and the pressure is low you are going to have a rough day.

No need to go any further south than Soccoro. If you do you have to deal with White Sands, besides the weather and terrain aren’t any better down there.

The trip from the Albuquerque area to Mesa is no big deal when the wind isn’t blowing. When the wind is blowing, the bumps dissipate when you get into Arizona. I don’t know how the bumps know that, but they do.

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We just did Albuquerque to Sedona yesterday morning. It was a non issue. I don think I would do it at night though. Nice and smooth for us but it was light winds and high pressure.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

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12 minutes ago, NJMac said:

We just did Albuquerque to Sedona yesterday morning. It was a non issue. I don think I would do it at night though. Nice and smooth for us but it was light winds and high pressure.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 

There’s no place to land during the day, so you might as well do it at night.

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“There’s no place to land during the day, so you might as well do it at night.”

:lol:  That’s funny.  But, I40 (Route 66) could be helpful in time if need :(

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13 hours ago, MooneyMitch said:

Denver south to Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, then head towards Phoenix.

Fly early AM, all permitting.   Less chance of weather and turbulence.  

With no mountain flying experience, this is the most conservative choice. 

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Agree with going south before heading southwest. I’m also a fan of early morning flying in general. There have been a couple of days of nasty mountain associated turbulence the past 2 weeks along the Colorado front range. Seasonal  thunderstorms seem to be done. There have also been a few days with strong westerly winds that we usually don’t see until closer to winter with the jet stream shifting south. Coming back from Moab, UT a week ago I had an 80-90 knot tailwind (shown below). Smooth in the FLs, but a no go day for mountain flying lower.  As always, keep a close eye on the weather as your trip approaches. 

62460151-6524-4FEF-AF34-24663BD19544.png

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Denver south on the east side of the Rockies, then make the turn around the southern toe at the Las Vegas VOR or south if you are more comfortable. Be aware that the balloon fiesta is running for about another week and there is a lot of air traffic (they launch several hundred at once) following the winds. West from the fiesta is not common.  North and south with valley winds is frequent. There are some long distance flights/races to the east or north depending on winds.  Might be some TFRs, don’t know about that, but I would be sure to check. Grounds are on the north end of town, sort of near Double Eagle. I don’t know what they do for air traffic control for the fiesta, maybe someone local knows.

Edited by jlunseth
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La Veta pass SSW of Pueblo is a decent route (pass elev. ~9500') into the Rio Grande valley towards the Alamosa VOR if it is clear and not too windy aloft.  It is a scenic trip on a nice day. Alternatively,  fly straight south down the front range to Glorieta pass ESE of Santa Fe, which is lower (~8000'), to the Las Vegas NM VOR as recommended by @jlunseth.  That route will pretty closely follow I-25.

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Nice details, HXG!

That’s in the holy cow region of winds aloft...

Modern day sailing at its best! :)

Best regards,

-a-

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Thanks for all the input. All is helpful. I know the winds from the west over the mountains are important and some of you stated “ as long as it’s not too windy”. What is considered too windy? As I mentioned, I have no mountain flying experience and don’t mind flying on the cautious side. Im retired and don’t have to be any particular place yesterday. However, sight seeing would be great If I was somewhat certain I could count on a smooth ride. I also hope to be taking along an old friend who I know can get air sick.

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7 minutes ago, nels said:

Thanks for all the input. All is helpful. I know the winds from the west over the mountains are important and some of you stated “ as long as it’s not too windy”. What is considered too windy? As I mentioned, I have no mountain flying experience and don’t mind flying on the cautious side. Im retired and don’t have to be any particular place yesterday. However, sight seeing would be great If I was somewhat certain I could count on a smooth ride. I also hope to be taking along an old friend who I know can get air sick.

It kinda depends on how much altitude will be between you and the peaks. I've crossed the peaks with 1500 ft clearance (15,500 MSL) in 40 knot winds and it wasn't to bumpy. But I wouldn't want to be any lower. If I was going through a pass at say 13,500 MSL I wouldn't want much more than about 25 knot winds.

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I suggest you talk to a briefer.  If there is any mention of "mountain wave" then I suggest that you don't attempt flying through passes.   I'll only fly through them if regional high pressure is dominating.  Large pressure gradients across the Rockies will set up some mighty powerful currents that resemble hydraulic jumps in rivers where some people like to kayak.   Turbulence and lenticular clouds are common during those times, which is a visual symptom of "mountain wave" action.   This time of year it is not uncommon to get high pressure over Arizona/Utah and low pressure over the eastern plains of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico that can really cause the air to zoom over the Rockies.   I suggest avoiding flying a normally aspirated aircraft through mountain passes then. 

PP only, not an instructor, be careful and good luck.

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Nels,

did you mention what steed you will be riding for this trip?

Best regards,

-a-

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6 hours ago, carusoam said:

Nels,

did you mention what steed you will be riding for this trip?

Best regards,

-a-

I guess that would be a good idea. The plane is a 1978 J model, normally aspirated.

Edited by nels
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