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Thread: 3-day Flight

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Cornell University, Upstate NY
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    Default 3-day Flight

    This may not be the right place to post such a topic but I thought I would give it a try since the members here host such a wealth of useful and interesting information.

    For a while I have thought about flying over the desert southwest in a small plane (I am a private pilot) to discover the amazing landscape from the air. I am considering going for a 3-day trip sometime in June around all the southwestern states in a Cessna 172. My tentative plan consists of flying from Palm Springs, CA to the Grand Canyon, AZ then to Santa Fe, NM and finally back to Palm Springs. I know this is not a roadtrip per se, but since quite a few of the members here have been all around America, I was wondering if you could offer me advice on what would be particularly worth seeing from the air, and where I should stop along the way.

    After seeing the Grand Canyon from the air, I thought of flying over monument valley and then across south-western Colorado and into New Mexico. From there I would traverse the state of Arizona before returning to Southern California. 3 days would give me plenty of time to stop and look around several times a day figuring I could average about 130 mph ground speed. I haven't seen any of the Southwest, except for Southern California, but I've heard it is spectacular.. so those of you who know it well, where would you advise me to go given I would be able to experience it all from above?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Several pilots on this board

    Quote Originally Posted by NH87
    This may not be the right place to post such a topic but I thought I would give it a try since the members here host such a wealth of useful and interesting information.
    Several members of this community are also pilots so you may get some ideas.
    For a while I have thought about flying over the desert southwest in a small plane (I am a private pilot) to discover the amazing landscape from the air. I am considering going for a 3-day trip sometime in June around all the southwestern states in a Cessna 172. My tentative plan consists of flying from Palm Springs, CA to the Grand Canyon, AZ then to Santa Fe, NM and finally back to Palm Springs.
    Most of the Grand Canyon is restricted air space and they take it very seriously, plus the few routes still available are heavily used by commercial scenic flight companies. Other than that, my knowledge about fueling stops and other flight-related info is sketchy at best.

    Mark

  3. Default I'm not a pilot, but....

    we have seen Canyonlands and Capitol Reef from the air when we fly commerical flights. The last time I knew exactly where we were because I could see the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. They would be fantastic closer up. Monument Valley would be an excellent choice! Another scenic area would be Lake Powell, Moab and Arches National Park...if you are allowed to fly over these areas.

    I love looking out the window when we fly and trying to pick out the interstates and hwy we know....I'm very good at it!

    http://www.slickrockairguides.com/flight.html

    Utahtea

  4. Default Flying the intermountain west

    You'll discover that MOST of the landscape in northern AZ, southern Utah and elsewhere in the Four Corners area to be both spectacular and beautiful. Among my favorite aerial photography destinations are Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley (Gouldings has a private airstrip if you'd like to land and take a 4wd tour of the Valley), Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks -- or ANY of the southern Utah scenic areas. The Grand Staircase Escalante area and Lake Powell are great too. They're all worth your time -- fortunately, "as the crow flies" you can cover much more scenic ground than you could ever dream of when trapped in a ground-bound cage!

    For Grand Canyon, the tours use lower altitudes than the cross-canyon VFR routes -- if I remember correctly and if nothing has changed, you'll have your choice of two altitudes for a crossing -- the one I used last time lies just west of Grand Canyon Village and the airport, and was called "Dragon" something or other. You'll need to be precise about your navigation, but the corridor is not difficult to fly. I always used the lower altitude -- it may have been 10.5 or 12.5, I can't remember exactly. The higher one is at 14.5 maybe and is a little bit of a stretch for your C172. Plus, the lower the better -- and at 10.5 or 12.5 you will certainly feel like you are down in it, rather than over it.

    Are you an experienced mountain country flyer? I don't want to bore (or insult) you by going into flight instructor mode, but beware of density altitude considerations. If this flight is just you and one other person, you'll find your C172 adequate (barely) as long as you pay attention. Your climb rate will be pitiful. Don't even think about these high-altitude airports in the SW if you are intending 3 or 4 people. Fly in the mornings, and save your afternoons for ground based activities -- and make sure you pay proper homage to the Cumulo Granite. Sacrifice a squirrel or an FAA bureaucrat. By surviving and sheer luck, I learned long ago what "no-go" was. On a western Cumulo-Bumper afternoon, you'll see no-go frequently.

    I've always stayed out of the southern Colorado mountains -- they're too lofty and wind-whipped to mess with in an airplane with an anemic four-banger. If you go, again, do it mornings when the air is cooler and calmer, and keep to the lowest terrain you can find.

    Stops: Don't miss Sedona (great restaurant); Show Low or Payson, Farmington, Blanding, Hall's Crossing, Valle (south of GC) and Bryce Canyon. All airports in spectacular settings. Also, Prescott has a great restaurant as well.

    You're going to love this adventure and remember it all your life. I hope you have a load of fun with it!

    Ace Manymotors (Bob)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Cornell University, Upstate NY
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    Default

    Wow! I didn't expect to get such great advice! I managed to google several aerial photographs of the areas you described and wow, do they look amazing! I think I will cut the Rockies from my flight plan as you suggested, I always prefer a smoother ride. What I might do is cut down over the four corners and overfly Shiprock in New Mexico, then over Canyon de Chelly and back across Arizona.

    You are correct about the Grand Canyon corridors which allow VFR flights above a certain altitude. 10.5 shouldn't be a problem. I once flew to Vegas and back with 3 passengers and reached 10,000 ft without any probems. I probably wouldn't attempt to go much higher though. The C172 has very good performance and since I fly here almost every day in 100+ degree heat with virtually no concern of density altitude, I don't think it should be a big concern, as long as we don't climb too high.

    Anyway, the locations you described all seem fantastic, and I will try to include as many as possible, with frequent stops at small airstrips so we can get out and explore the landscape.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    Default Google's Mapping Option

    Wow! I didn't expect to get such great advice! I managed to google several aerial photographs of the areas
    You might also take advantage of the "free" version of Keyhole technology and use the zoom feature to look at the satellite images of your planned flight path. For instance, this is the an overview of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes area north of Kanab, Utah. This particular image doesn't enable zooming very far, but you can get an idea of what is available!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-29-2005 at 02:16 PM. Reason: Added info

  7. Default

    Density Altitude; I'd agree that SEA LEVEL fields at 100 degrees are less of a concern -- but pull out your E6B or equivalent and plug in a 6,000 or 7,000 foot field at a temperature of 95 or 100F, look at the results and you'll see that density altitude is a MAJOR concern. Your problem will be take-off performance under those conditions, and an inability to climb faster than the surrounding terrain rises. This is why most serious mountain country flyers use aircraft with larger motors and favor fancy gadgets like turbochargers. My minimum requirement when tackling mountain flying after 35+ years of flying experience is a C182 or a PA28-236. Take it for what it's worth.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2005
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    Cornell University, Upstate NY
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    Default

    Which high-altitude airports are you referring to? I know the Grand Canyon airport is located at around 6.5, but the temperatures there don't usually rise above 80 in the summer...

    If I fly in the mornings like you suggested when the temperatures are cooler, density altitude won't be as much of a factor than if I fly in the middle of the day. I might anyway have the opportunity to take a turbocharged C182, which would make things easier.
    Last edited by NH87; 05-29-2005 at 04:54 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    Default Better check that again

    Quote Originally Posted by NH87
    Which high-altitude airports are you referring to? I know the Grand Canyon airport is located at around 6.5, but the temperatures there don't usually rise above 80 in the summer...
    I just looked at the adjusted normal highs and temps ~ 3:00 pm in the summer frequently exceed 94 degrees (F)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Cornell University, Upstate NY
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    Default

    Where did you get those figures? Have a look at weather.com, this is what they post as average temperatures..

    Average Temps

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