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  #1  
Old 10-26-2020, 08:26 PM
JKoiter99 JKoiter99 is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Agua Dulce CA (for now!)
Posts: 4
Default Safest RV & Best Route - CA to CO commute?

Hi Everyone,

I'm a new member, first post here, but I've spent hundreds of hours reading threads over the past 10 years or so. Great forum! Thanks for having me. Please note I've searched and read lots on here about mountain flying and the differences between models before posting this. Just looking for more insight.

Quick bit about me...I'm 39, student pilot and homebuilder, father of three (7, 9, 11) out here in Southern California, and I've been building a Zenith for about a year - it was actually a quick-build kit from Bonanza MetalCrafters out of the Philippines - like many quick-build RVs! Only four were built and the craftsmanship is excellent. BUT...

My plans and mission are changing, and I'm looking to relocate back to my hometown of Colorado Springs in about 3-4 years, but i'll still need to work in Los Angeles after we move, for a good 5-7 years. So of course, I'd rather fly myself back and forth whenever possible. The Zenith just won't do that efficiently.

Before anyone mentions it, yes, mountain flying courses and recurring training are on my agenda (both here and in CO), and I hope to finish my private and IFR ticket by this time next year, and spend as much time in the air as possible after that. Shooting for at least 250 hours before we move.

Here are my Questions:

1) Given that I'd like to (winds and weather permitting) fly from LA to Colorado Springs often, between the -6A,-7A, -8A, -9A, which plane is best? Looking for the best blend of safety, speed, service ceiling, maneuverability, and survivability (if I had to put it down). Several posts say that for the altitude to fly over mountains go with the -9A over the -7A, but then someone always turns around and says you'll get beat up in turbulence more with the -9 wing, so go with the -7A. And, according to the website both the -7 and the -9 have 24,500 ceilings, so...

I've also heard the -6 and -8 owners say those are great for cross country as well. All with similar performance. Makes the decision that much harder!

2) What are the best routes from L.A. to Colo Spgs?

3) I know they're not very popular, but if any of you were flying that route regularly, would you opt for a BRS?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2020, 09:39 PM
F1R F1R is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: ____
Posts: 836
Default Young Love....

"fly from LA to Colorado Springs often"

A lear 24 or 25 or a Falcon 10 can be found for about what a ready to fly 10 would cost you.

A used TBM will cost more but is more realistic to own and manage.

Not that you can't do it in an RV, but you say often and for work, inferring a schedule to keep. Wx does not follow schedules. Airliners do, and you can stretch your legs and relax.

Build the RV of your dreams and enjoy it, but upper winds and weather will often be a heartbreaker if you have a schedule to keep into Colorado. All piston singles and most light twins have the same reality to face in that they are not remotely practical for ice and high winds in or even over the mountains.
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  #3  
Old 10-26-2020, 11:39 PM
Mike S's Avatar
Mike S Mike S is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Dayton Airpark, NV A34
Posts: 15,491
Default Welcome to VAF

Quote:
Originally Posted by JKoiter99 View Post
Hi Everyone, I'm a new member, first post here,--------

Thanks!
Jason, welcome aboard the good ship VAF
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Flying as of 12/4/2010

Phase 1 done, 2/4/2011

Sold after 240+ wonderful hours of flight.

"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it."
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  #4  
Old 10-26-2020, 11:48 PM
JKoiter99 JKoiter99 is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Agua Dulce CA (for now!)
Posts: 4
Default

Ah yes, I'll admit at first I may have been a little too attached to the idea and wished I could just fly back and forth on a whim all the time...but I'm too much of a realist and that faded quickly.

--but not so quickly that I didn't still think it could be possible

To clarify, when I say 'often' I certainly didn't mean every time I need to travel to CA. I know I'll be traveling commercial quite a bit, but when the forecast is good and I can buffer a day (or more) to get out there, why not take my own?

Given my line of work I'll have enough flexibility in my schedule to fly myself some of the time. Lots of my work can be done remotely, so i would just need to fly out for sessions or meetings.

Again, if and when it's safe to do so.

Has anyone here flown from Socal to CO? I'd love to hear your experience and route details. Thanks!
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  #5  
Old 10-26-2020, 11:49 PM
JKoiter99 JKoiter99 is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Agua Dulce CA (for now!)
Posts: 4
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike S View Post
Jason, welcome aboard the good ship VAF
Thank you, Mike!
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  #6  
Old 10-27-2020, 12:06 AM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,301
Default

For a fairly new pilot, I壇 say that you leave Colorado Springs southbound and take it south until you turn the corner at the south end of the Sanger de Cristos, then follow Route 66, just like in the song. On a really nice day, you can cross over the mountains at Walsenberg, then down to Santa Fe and pick up the route.

The thing is, you値l need and want flexibility in route planning, and you値l pick that up with experience.

And the IFR rating is absolutely a plus for any pilot because of the added skills, but I always tell folks that if you池e flying single engine pistons, you値l cancel just about as many trips as if you were VFR because you still cant do anything about ice or thunderstorms - the big show-stoppers. You値l find that its hard to go IFR Direct in the mountains because the MEAs will be pretty high, so expect that you値l still be detouring around the big ranges.

Enjoy the journey - in all respects!

Paul
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2020, 10:10 AM
David Paule David Paule is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 4,472
Default

I used to commute from Oxnard, CA, to Boulder, CO in a C180, doing it VFR. I'd do it at odd intervals except in the winter. In the winter, I could usually choose a decent weather window but given that the flight took me roughly six hours plus a stop, daylight was a factor. I only flew in daylight.

I'd go past Daggett, near the Boulder, NV area, go just north of the Grand Canyon, stop for fuel either at Needles Outpost (their airport is now closed) or something like Page, go north of the La Salle Mountains, just south of Grand Junction, then up the Colorado River/I-70 valley until I got to about Glenwood Springs. Then I'd decide, based on weather and winds, whether to head directly to the Divide near Winter Park or to go via Kremmling and cross the Divide near Cameron Pass.

Your route will be more like Ironflight recommended. It's an easier, safer route but surface winds can be sporty. A nosedragger might well be easier to manage than my old taildragger.

Generally, the main weather issues were high winds, turbulence and afternoon thunderstorm build-up over the Colorado high country.

Going westbound, the main issues would be either winds over the Divide or winds and turbulence west of say Page, as the day went on. For me, turbulence increases my need to pee and I carried a pee bottle - essential equipment.

A BRS would have been a comfort, to be sure. But the terrain was so rugged and remote over much of this, that the bigger problem would have been survival, rescue and recovery. With today's 406 ELTs that's less of an issue but still something to consider. Don't know that I'd have one in an RV, considering the full cost (money, time, weight, external harness, survivability on the ground). The overall impact might be rather high, compared to the probability that it I'd need it and it would ultimately lead to a save.

I had the benefit of good altitude performance and oxygen and regard both as mandatory.

Within the RV airplanes, I'd choose an RV-9 or an RV-10, if I had a choice. However, all would be suitable. The RV-12 would suffer from the low wing loading and relatively low speed in that comparison.

Dave
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  #8  
Old 10-27-2020, 11:13 AM
AlpineYoda AlpineYoda is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 157
Default

I don't have much advice on the route, but I would vote for a BRS. I'm building one into mine. Depending on where you fly, there aren't many places to land. I've flown from Boulder to Steamboat, Vail, Leadville, etc. in Diamonds and a Cirrus and knowing that the handle is there when you literally cannot see a flat spot to land is at least a little comforting.

If you are going to fly in the mountains, I highly recommend Fletcher Anderson's book "Flying the Mountains", as long as you ignore the irony that he didn't follow his own advice.
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  #9  
Old 10-27-2020, 10:26 PM
JKoiter99 JKoiter99 is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Agua Dulce CA (for now!)
Posts: 4
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironflight View Post
For a fairly new pilot, I壇 say that you leave Colorado Springs southbound and take it south until you turn the corner at the south end of the Sanger de Cristos, then follow Route 66, just like in the song. On a really nice day, you can cross over the mountains at Walsenberg, then down to Santa Fe and pick up the route.

The thing is, you値l need and want flexibility in route planning, and you値l pick that up with experience.

And the IFR rating is absolutely a plus for any pilot because of the added skills, but I always tell folks that if you池e flying single engine pistons, you値l cancel just about as many trips as if you were VFR because you still cant do anything about ice or thunderstorms - the big show-stoppers. You値l find that its hard to go IFR Direct in the mountains because the MEAs will be pretty high, so expect that you値l still be detouring around the big ranges.

Enjoy the journey - in all respects!

Paul

Thank you, Paul! It's great to speak with you. I've read more of your articles than I can count.

Yes, the southern routes look best. I totally see your point about IFR, and I agree it's really more about flying VFR with flight following than say flying in IMC or at night - I don't think I'd ever be comfortable doing that anywhere near the Rockies!



Quote:
Originally Posted by David Paule View Post
I used to commute from Oxnard, CA, to Boulder, CO in a C180, doing it VFR. I'd do it at odd intervals except in the winter. In the winter, I could usually choose a decent weather window but given that the flight took me roughly six hours plus a stop, daylight was a factor. I only flew in daylight.

I'd go past Daggett, near the Boulder, NV area, go just north of the Grand Canyon, stop for fuel either at Needles Outpost (their airport is now closed) or something like Page, go north of the La Salle Mountains, just south of Grand Junction, then up the Colorado River/I-70 valley until I got to about Glenwood Springs. Then I'd decide, based on weather and winds, whether to head directly to the Divide near Winter Park or to go via Kremmling and cross the Divide near Cameron Pass.

Your route will be more like Ironflight recommended. It's an easier, safer route but surface winds can be sporty. A nosedragger might well be easier to manage than my old taildragger.

Generally, the main weather issues were high winds, turbulence and afternoon thunderstorm build-up over the Colorado high country.

Going westbound, the main issues would be either winds over the Divide or winds and turbulence west of say Page, as the day went on. For me, turbulence increases my need to pee and I carried a pee bottle - essential equipment.

A BRS would have been a comfort, to be sure. But the terrain was so rugged and remote over much of this, that the bigger problem would have been survival, rescue and recovery. With today's 406 ELTs that's less of an issue but still something to consider. Don't know that I'd have one in an RV, considering the full cost (money, time, weight, external harness, survivability on the ground). The overall impact might be rather high, compared to the probability that it I'd need it and it would ultimately lead to a save.

I had the benefit of good altitude performance and oxygen and regard both as mandatory.

Within the RV airplanes, I'd choose an RV-9 or an RV-10, if I had a choice. However, all would be suitable. The RV-12 would suffer from the low wing loading and relatively low speed in that comparison.

Dave
Hi Dave, thanks for the advice!
Cool to hear from someone who's traveled a CA to CO route. I remember those afternoon thunderstorms in Colorado Springs, they were almost like clockwork through the summer!
The RV-9 was all I was looking at for the longest time, the high lift wing and slower stall speed make it very appealing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpineYoda View Post
I don't have much advice on the route, but I would vote for a BRS. I'm building one into mine. Depending on where you fly, there aren't many places to land. I've flown from Boulder to Steamboat, Vail, Leadville, etc. in Diamonds and a Cirrus and knowing that the handle is there when you literally cannot see a flat spot to land is at least a little comforting.

If you are going to fly in the mountains, I highly recommend Fletcher Anderson's book "Flying the Mountains", as long as you ignore the irony that he didn't follow his own advice.
Agreed. I always believe "fly the airplane" first and foremost, but given the terrain I'm flying over it's a strong argument to get one. And thanks for the book recommend.
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  #10  
Old 10-28-2020, 03:03 PM
togaflyer togaflyer is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Southeast
Posts: 671
Default

Before moving East I was based out of KWJF. Direct will save some time but it will put you in the teens and along some unfriendly terrain with few options. Track interstate 40. L70, Bullhead, Flagstaff to Las Vegas NM, then North from there. More flight time but lower altitudes and lots of options if something comes up.
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