Calgary and Denver: Part 1

The Plan

In the Summer of 2003 we flew across the country from Boise to Boston and it was such a wonderful experience that we decided to try to make an extended flying trip at least once per year. For our 2004 trip we wanted to go back to Calgary and visit Banff National Park again (we previously flew ourselves to Calgary in 1999). Phil also wanted to attend the Mooney Mountain Flying course in Denver. Flying from Boise to Calgary to Denver and back seemed just right for this year’s big trip. Continue reading Calgary and Denver: Part 1

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

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 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 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 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