Sunriver, Oregon: Part 1

Geography Lesson

My brother Abraham, who lives in Texas, called on a Sunday morning and asked, “Is Oregon near Idaho?” After I informed him that Idaho borders Oregon he let me know that he was on his way to a conference in Sunriver, Oregon and wondered if Nancy and I could fly out and join him and his family there. They had reserved a two-bedroom condo, so there would be plenty of room for us to stay.

After we recovered from the short notice invitation, the idea started to grow on us. We had both recently commented that our big map of trips we’ve taken is pretty empty in Oregon. Abraham lives in Texas, so we don’t get to see him as often as we’d like to. This would be a great chance to visit with him, Sylvia and our youngest nephew Tristan. Continue reading Sunriver, Oregon: Part 1

Beyond the $100 Hamburger

Getting tired of the same old routine flights to familiar destinations? One thing you can do is to change your routine. After a few trips to our regular fly-in breakfast or lunch destinations, I think many pilots don’t go through all the steps of planning out the flight, selecting checkpoints, estimating times, etc. We know how to get there and about how long it will take, so it’s easy to get complacent and just take off in the general direction of our destination without formal plan in hand. Continue reading Beyond the $100 Hamburger

Glacier National Park: Part 3

Weather Briefing

The unsettled conditions from the cold front that moved through on Saturday were still lingering in the Kalispell area. We awoke to a layer of broken clouds, but still a good amount of blue sky peeking out above. The Flight Service weather briefer said the clouds at Glacier Part International were broken at 4,500 feet and overcast at 8,500 feet. Those altitudes are reported as above ground level (AGL) so by adding the airport elevation at Glacier Park to those numbers, the MSL (above mean sea level) altitudes for the cloud layers were at 7,500 and 11,500 feet respectively. Continue reading Glacier National Park: Part 3

Glacier National Park: Part 2

Saturday – Hiking

We woke up to great hiking weather on Saturday morning-not too hot, or too cold with overcast skies providing plenty of shade from the July rays. As we drove towards the park, the clouds thickened and occasionally freckled the windshield. We had picked out a few hikes that we wanted to do inside the park, but if the rain kept up like this, the trails would be pretty muddy. Continue reading Glacier National Park: Part 2

Glacier National Park: Part 1

Friday – Cool Down in the Mountains

Sitting next to my best friend at 11,000 feet on a sunny day with blue skies, cool temperatures, smooth air, and beautiful views of mountains dotted with lakes is a great way to start my birthday. The 15-knot tailwind was a nice bonus too.

We’re on our way to Glacier National Park near Kalispell, Montana to celebrate Phil’s birthday and get some relief from the 100-degree temperatures in Boise. This is our second trip to Kalispell. Our first was in 1998 (just a few months after buying into the Mooney partnership), and we were excited to see the area again with a little more time to explore. The 1998 trip was a very quick weekend; fly in on Saturday, hike around that day and return on Sunday. Continue reading Glacier National Park: Part 1

Calgary and Denver: Part 6

Denver, CO to Boise, ID

The original flight plan had us going north along the eastern edge of the Rockies before making a big left turn towards Boise. After attending the Mooney Mountain Flying Course, it was clear that flying through Corona Pass, past Kremmling and then on almost a direct line to Boise would be perfectly fine. It was a slightly shorter route (only 40 NM less, about 15 flying minutes) and would give me a chance to show Nancy some of the route that Bart and I flew when we did the flying portion of the Mountain Flying Course. Continue reading Calgary and Denver: Part 6

Calgary and Denver: Part 5

Mooney Mountain Flying Course

Some of the 35 Mooneys that flew in. Notice the distinctive Mooney tails which haven’t changed since the original 1950’s design.

The Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association Safety Foundation conducts several training courses each year. I attended their Pilot Proficiency Program (PPP) in 1999 and learned a great deal there, so in 2004 I thought it would be good to go back for more refresher training and learn more about flying in the mountains. For the July training in Denver they conducted a Pilot Proficiency Program and a Mountain Flying Course. The two course tracks were divided for some of the training, but we all attended the general Mooney ground training together.

Since we live in Boise, we’re not exactly strangers to the techniques of mountain flying but this was a great opportunity to get some Mooney-specific training, fly in the Rocky Mountains, and spend a few days in Denver. Mooneys are not the best back-country airplanes since they have very short, stiff landing gear and the propeller doesn’t have much ground clearance. Some people do fly Mooneys into rough strips, but our airplane goes strictly to hard-surfaced runways. This Mountain Flying course concentrates on the techniques of flying near mountains using paved runways. Continue reading Calgary and Denver: Part 5

Calgary and Denver: Part 4

In order to clear customs in the US, we had to make a stop in Great Falls, MT before continuing on to Denver, CO.

Leg 1: Calgary, AB to Great Falls, MT

Fortunately Wednesday’s heavy rain showers had blown through when we woke on Thursday for our early morning departure. We needed to clear customs in Great Falls. It would be about 1.5 hours to Great Falls, then about 3.7 hours from there to Jeffco. We had quite a bit of flying ahead of us. It would have been ideal to arrive at Great Falls right when the customs office opened at 8am. That way we could get into Denver right around noon to avoid the turbulence and thunderstorms that typically build each Summer afternoon. Continue reading Calgary and Denver: Part 4

Calgary and Denver: Part 3

Banff National Park

The sun sparkled brightly through the scattered clouds on Tuesday morning, the day of our third wedding anniversary. We wanted to get an early start on the hiking trails to enjoy as much scenery of Banff as possible. I was glad I remembered to pack my hiking boots until I tried them on. I hadn’t worn them recently and they felt smaller than I remembered. Unfortunately, the shops didn’t open until 10:00 so a replacement purchase wasn’t possible. I opted to wear my trusty running shoes. How bad could it be?

Continue reading Calgary and Denver: Part 3

Calgary and Denver: Part 2

Boise, ID to Calgary, AB

We started out very early this morning by waking up at 4:00 (yes that’s A.M.) and learned a valuable lesson … don’t plan an early departure on July 5 when everyone else in the neighborhood stays up late the night before celebrating with fireworks.

The sacrifice was worth it. By the time we got to the airport, the sun was up and revealed a clear blue sky — ideal conditions for a smooth and enjoyable flight. We ran through a typical preflight and placed a call to Canadian Customs so they knew what time to expect us in Calgary. Surprisingly, they still had the aircraft information on file from a trip we made in 1999. Phil only had to update their records with the new colors of the plane since it had been painted.

Continue reading Calgary and Denver: Part 2

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