Friday, June 3, 2011

Denver to Salida

Bruce Vogel and I launched out of Erie, CO in less than ideal conditions. Low clouds, rain, and snow in the high country. The XM Weather on the Garmin 496 took a long time to come up, and we decided that this was an imperative piece of equipment and would scrub the launch if it didn't download. But it did, so we were off. The conditions forced us around the east side of the DIA Class B, and then we met the mountains just north of Colorado Springs.

Bruce is a high time flight instructor, airline pilot, ATP with type ratings. Looking at the TL Elektronic Integra display gave him confidence that we could manage through the mountains in poor conditions in safety.

We navigated through the lower mountains between Colorado Springs and Salida, always taking the route shown on the 496 to avoid precip bands.

The route ahead did not look good, but the 496 kept showing a clear path between snow bands, so we continued. The dirt roads below looked perfect for a landing if the weather trapped us.

After squeaking through a low pass in the mountains into the Salida valley, Bruce and I were all smiles. It was gusting to 30kts with about a 30 degree crosswind at Salida. The first approach showed increasing crosswind so we went around for a second attempt. With Bruce calling out crosswind angles of 30, 20, 10, we touched down and taxied slowly to the ramp. We put the Phoenix in Jim Zeiset's hangar, the airport manager gave us a courtesy car, and we headed to Bonanza to meet with Jim Shepard.

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