Tanya & Bryan Duke's RV-6 Flying Reports
6 Nov 07: Today I flew from Ft Worth to Salt Lake City with a fuel stop in
Angel Fire, NM. Just as I pulled up to the gas pump at Hicks (
T67), Jay Pratt drove up
with his girfriend Carol & suggested taking a quick hop over to Bridgeport
(XBP) for fuel. Hicks'
fuel price was $4.14/gal & Brideport's was $3.38. I needed about 30 gallons of gas &
Bridgeport was along the way, so why not keep that extra $30 in my pocket?
Hicks is nearly at sea level & all my recent takeoffs were between 4000'
& 8500' elevation. With only about 10 gallons of fuel on board plus me & my bags,
the plane lept off the ground in only a few seconds. So nice.
After a quick 10 minute flight, I pulled up the gas pump at Bridgeport. $3.38 a gallon.
I had originally planned on flying to Santa Fe
so that I could write a review for the Santa Fe Airport Grill. The FAA data
I use on fly2lunch.com said
that there was no landing fee, but my Flight Guide said there was. Turns out my data
was correct (no landing fee), but instead of having to deal with it, I checked the
range to Angel Fire
I was about 80nm from either Santa Fe or Angel Fire. There's
definitely no landing fee at Angel Fire & my dad & step-mom live there...so I
turned north towards Angel Fire.
I was cruising at 10,500' the whole flight because of big headwinds at higher
altitudes, but to get into Angel Fire I wanted
to be a little higher. A climbed up to 12,500' & crossed the mountains into
Angel Fire. Once in the valley, I flew over the field & verified the calm winds
on the surface. Once in the valley I was able to call them on my cell & ask
them if they wanted to meet for lunch. I descened to the north & circled over
my dad's house. By the time I got there, they were already leaving. So, I
turned around & set up for a downwind for runway 35.
At Angle Fire's pattern altitude of 9380', the RV was comfortable at its
normal slow pattern speeds. Many general aviation airplanes would be gasping
for air at that altitude. RV's are great. I pulled off the runway & barely got
out of the plane before my dad & step-mom drove up & met me at the plane.
It's always great to see family. The gorgeous day in Angel Fire made it even
better. We ate lunch at
Avalon's Restaurant & Bakery (click for my review). The restaurant is
about a mile down the road from the airport & was a great place for lunch.
After lunch, we went back to the airport, paid for the gas, said
goodbye & hit the road.
Takeoff performance at Angel Fire was not near as quick as at Hicks this
morning, but still great considering the full fuel load & high altitude. I
didn't really measure the takeoff performance, but I was about 200' in the air
by the time I passed the ramp, so I'm guessing my takeoff roll was about 2000'.
I did a climbing right hand turn over the airport then headed west through the
pass. The mountain on the north side of the pass is partly covered with trees,
but has a large bare spot on it - very distinctive looking.
I continued my climb up to 12,500' and turned northwest direct to
Just north of Taos, I tried to contact Albuquerque Center, but I couldn't hear
them. Apparently their radio antennas have worse coverage than their radar -
I spent some time this trip checking the performance of the plane at different
altitudes. At 12,500' MSL, 17.8" manifold pressure & 2350 RPM the plane
stabilized at 155mph indicated air speed & 192mph TAS.
I really didn't want to cross the Rockies without having flight following, so
to get in touch with Albuquerque Center, I climbed to 14,500'.
I flew with the terrain
mode on my Blue Mountain EFIS/Lite for most of the time over the Rockies. It's
great to have the terrain displayed in front of you & the real-time AGL display
is extremely nice.
The high terrain turned on like a light switch. My 14,500' altitude quickly
turned into not much clearance over the terrain. I had to fight about a 30 knot
headwind up at 14.5.
There's some amazing terrain in Colorado. Some of the mountain tops are
jagged & knife like. This one was one of the flatter tops, but still a very
neat looking peak.
With the continually rising terrain & 14,000' peaks approaching, I climbed
16,500'. The air was smooth, but the headwinds increased to almost 50 knots.
There were scattered clouds around 18,000. The bottoms of the clouds
looked like cotton.
The terrain display on my EFIS was great to cross check during the trip. Even
though the highest peak in the 48 states is at 14,500', it was still nice to
see no red terrain on the EFIS. There's some serious terrain in Colorado.
Up at 16,500', the plane was happy at 130mph IAS still at 2350 RPM.
A flight over the Rockies, like direct from AXX to SLC is not to be taken
lightly in a small airplane. There were several places where there was
absolutely no place to land if I had an engine problem. Try to find a spot
to land here.
Many of the peaks had snow on them, but almost none of them were completely
covered. There were lots of lakes & ponds up in the mountains - no doubt with
extremely cold water in them.
I'm not sure what peak this was, but there's a trail with switchbacks all
the way up. The color was gorgeous & very distinct against the rest of the
mountains. It looks like it'd be a great backpacking trip.
As I continued to fly further north, the mountains were more & more covered with
snow. Amazing scenery.
With the high headwinds, I was watching the fuel very closely and considered
landing at Telluride
to top off. The headwinds decreased significantly once I neared Telluride, and it looked like I could make SLC in a 3.0 hour flight. A 3 hour flight is easy with the RV-6 fuel load. There were other airports closer to SLC where I could stop if the headwinds got bad again, so I continued on.
Telluride Ski Resort
before getting to the airport. Most of the ski slopes had snow on them, but
the ski area wasn't open yet. It looked like a fun place. Put it on the to-do
Telluride airport sits at over 9000' elevation. I crossed over it at 16,500', so the pictures I took don't do it justice. This photo is looking west. You can see the dropoffs on 3 sides of the airport. The terrain around the airport
is very impressive. Telluride is near the edge of the mountain range, so
there are several types of rock formations. Nice perch for a runway.
This photo is looking south. The ski area is to the southeast of the airport
(just to the left of this photo).
Passing Telluride, there was really only one more ridge before the terrain really dropped off. The terrain started to display a more errosion-caused nature.
And just like that, the mountains were all but gone. Crossing into Utah,
Arches National Park
passed just off my left with
Canyonlands National Park
just past that. At the same time, off the right wing was
Monument. The next two pictures were taken at about the same time.
The first picture is Colorado National Monument, taken out the right side of
the plane. The second is the EFIS showing where on Earth I was.
You are here... Arches & Canyonlands on the left & Colorado National Monument
on the right. You can see Canyonlands Field
(CNY) & the MOAB VOR about 50 nm west of my position.
The winds had settled into a steady 20 knot headwind. The EFIS still
predicted I'd get to SLC with a 3.0 hour flight, so on I went.
Nearing Salt Lake City, there were more & more civilization.
This is Strawberry Reservoir to the south east of Salt Lake City.
You can see the dam in the bottom left of the photo.
I crossed the 11,000' Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake and decended into
the airport. General aviation traffic at SLC typically lands on the
eastern-most runway, 35/17. I landed on 35 & taxied to Million Air for parking.
As typically with larger (more expensice) FBO's, the service was great. They
sent a follow-me golf cart to show me where the tie down parking was. I
unloaded everything into the golf cart...mission complete.
It took 3.0 hours from Angel Fire. Not bad with the headwind. Lovin' the RV-6!
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