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Old 09-26-2013, 05:38 PM
Christopher Murphy Christopher Murphy is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: colorado
Posts: 932
Default rough weather and terrain

I don't know your exact route but the terrain north and east of boise is rough enough it made me nervous even when flying a 737. Flying a bigger jet with a higher single engine capability lessens the worry some. I would never fly a single engine airplane in the weather over that terrain. If you fly over the LKT vor ( Salmon) you would be over this terrain.

good luck

Chris M
RV-4 "Mr. Twister"
Pitts S1S "Mexican Red" sold and missed
Mr. Twister Airshows
Rocky Mountain Renegades
the mission... have fun.
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Old 09-26-2013, 09:48 PM
Mile High Relic Mile High Relic is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Denver area
Posts: 278

Originally Posted by Christopher Murphy View Post
I would never fly a single engine airplane in the weather over that terrain.
Same here.

To me, over the mountains, IFR only stands for I follow roads. The conventional wisdom around here is that IMC in the winter is almost a guarantee of picking up ice.

As for performance, I had my 180 HP RV6 up to 17.5 Monday and again just yesterday, back and forth to Vegas. The last 2000' yesterday were helped mightily by a mountain wave updraft, and I had to cut power and lower the nose to keep from bumping into class A once I hit the wave after that. It is hard to really be definitive, but based on how the plane performed yesterday, I would say Kevin H's comment on 17K being a practical limit is very true, and maybe even a little lower if you're within a couple hundred pounds of max gross

Go ahead and get your IFR rating though. It is fun, challenging, useful, and will almost certainly make you a better pilot.
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Old 09-27-2013, 06:50 AM
zav6a zav6a is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sedalia, Colorado (KAPA)
Posts: 320
Default Mountain WX

Not much mention of it here but in addition to the rocks and ice in the clouds over the Rockies, the wind and turbulence is often limiting as well. Clouds are often orographic. Makes for an ugly package- wind, turbulence, clouds, ice. And, though many days may look beautiful, the winds up there make it impassable, particularly now through April.

Though I enjoy flying over the Northerrn Rockies when it works, I often yearn to live somewhere that the weather is not so limiting.
Duane Zavadil
RV-6a, IO-320
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Old 10-10-2013, 03:35 PM
colojo's Avatar
colojo colojo is offline
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Newport Beach, CA
Posts: 351

Originally Posted by zav6a View Post
Not much mention of it here but in addition to the rocks and ice in the clouds over the Rockies, the wind and turbulence is often limiting as well. Clouds are often orographic. Makes for an ugly package- wind, turbulence, clouds, ice. And, though many days may look beautiful, the winds up there make it impassable, particularly now through April.

Though I enjoy flying over the Northerrn Rockies when it works, I often yearn to live somewhere that the weather is not so limiting.

I live in Denver and have a Mooney Acclaim with TKS de-icing and a very doable ceiling of FL250. As capable as this plane is, I won't fly it over the Rockies in IMC conditions or even in clear air when the turbulence is forecast to be moderate or worse.

The most terrifying flight of my life took place 4 years ago on Labor Day weekend in CAVU conditions and wind calm on the ground in Denver. My wife and launched in the Mooney towards SoCal. Takeoff and climbout were smooth, but the jet stream dipped way south in a hurry (it was forecast to stay up in Wyoming until 3 hours after our departure) and when we crossed the Continental Divide at FL180, we flew straight into the teeth of a 90-knot headwind. Our groundspeed dropped from 170KT to 80KT... at full throttle. Decided to turn back when the turbulence started getting worse, but then we got caught in the mountain wave and rotor action descending into Denver, even though I flew 50 miles east of the foothills before descending to try to avoid it. I'm guessing we experienced +2G to -1.5G in the 90 minutes of moderate to severe turbulence that ensued. Cargo net broke in the baggage compartment and soon our luggage was hurtling throughout the cabin. My wife was screaming and crying. It was the most hellish rodeo ride I've experienced in 30 years of flying.

I vote you leave any regularly scheduled flying over the route you've described to the airlines, especially if it will be year-round.

Definitely get an instrument rating, though!
Joe Zuffoletto
RV-8 (flying)
Fullerton, CA (KFUL)
2021 dues paid!
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:18 AM
Bob Axsom Bob Axsom is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 5,685
Default Instrument Rating - mixed blessing

I got my instrument rating in 1984 and from 1988 through 2004 I flew to work daily in the Los Angeles basin an a Piper Archer II. Very stable airplane with an autopilot but I never used it. My wife Jeanine and I built our RV-6A from 1996 through 2004 when I retired. I decided that I never used the autopilot so I did not install one. I flew it for a year IFR that way. The workload to me was very demanding. After a particularly difficult approach to Winston-Salem, NC I knew I needed the autopilot and installed a TruTrak Pictorial Pilot and Altrac altitude hold - tremendous improvement.

I originally installed an SL-60 panel mount GPS nav/com, a SL-40 Com and a Terra Nav radio with an electronic display similar to the dual Bendix BX 2000 that was in the Archer. It worked and met the requirements for ILS, Localizer and VOR approaches but switching NAV frequencies to get step down fixes during approaches was not a pleasant experience in an airplane that is as fast and maneuverable as the RV. To improve this I replaced the SL-40 with a SL-30 and an additional GS/LOC/VOR display.

Following a race in Llano. TX earlier this year there was a severe weather forcast for damaging hail in that area and the weather back at Fayetteville, Arkansas where I now live was forecast to be VMC. My solution was to file IFR and get on my way. No alternate was required and I only had 38 gallons of fuel and would have had to do some fine calculating to get to FYV do a missed approach fly to the alternate and still have 45 minutes reserve and the incoming weather did not permit me the time to do that. I did know that Springdale, Rogers and Northwest Arkansas Regional were nearby and I would have no trouble getting to them if necessary. As I neared Fayetteville I learned via ATIS that the airport was below approach minimums so I called Razorback Approach told them the situation and asked for the ILS approach to Springdale. I was told that both Springdale and Rogers ILS were out of service and that the only ILS available in northwest Arkansas was at XNA. I said that I needed to go to XNA and fly that approach. XNA ATIS was calling the ceiling at 300 and low visibility. I flew the approach in ragged form, knowing that this approach must be completed or ... there was no option. At 300 feet I saw the glow of the approach lights through the haze and everything worked out OK but it was not easy and it was not a routine confident flight operation. This experience should alert you to several things:

- RVs are not simple to fly IFR airplanes with a lot of performance margin.
- Some times the weather forecast is wrong.
- Actual conditions can be such that you have to rush to get airborne.
- Ground based navigational aids are not being maintained reliably
- Glass panel navigation is best probably but obsolescence and product support threats exist

Last week I flew to Waupaca, Wisconsin for another air race on Saturday 10-5-13 and the weather was marginal. I could go whenever I wanted and the weather was supposed to get worse later in the week so I decided to make the trip on Thursday. I had to decide whether to fly IFR or VFR and I said to myself just take the time and replan the flight for IFR. I found I could go direct to Razorback then V63 to Oshkosh at 7,000 feet. I thought I could land there or continue to Waupaca depending on conditions. I took off and all went well until northern Missouri. There, Kansas City Center told me they could give me a vector around some weather but they said there is a cell to the right and another to the left of your course and if you continue that line it appears you will avoid the bad weather. I said that I would just continue my current course. In the past I have scoffed at concerns for turbulence. I flew into this big solid white cloud on autopilot and the turbulence was so bad that I didn't know if the airplane would survive it. I had Jeanine's headset on with the thick leather and wool pad on top because my mic performance is getting marginal. At one point I was smashed into the canopy so hard that I might have been knocked out without it - I have hit my head in rough weather before but nothing like this. I did not know if this was the way my life would end in the next few minutes or not but I knew that I had to do my part correctly for any chance of survival. When I entered a momentary clearing I cancelled IFR and descended below the clouds around Hannibal, Missouri. There I could see the massive black formations on the left and right of my course and deviated north around the back of the one on the right and refueled at Burlington, Iowa, From there I flew at about 1,000 ft AGL to Waupaca deviating many times to avoid weather. More lessons learned.

IFR allows you to fly when the VFR only pilot is grounded but it can kill you. The ground elevation on this trip was around 800 feet. In the past two years I have flown to your part of the country eight times (16 oneway flights) for races in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Reno (not as a racer) and there is no way I would fly there in IMC with an RV. The victor airways are not always the best routes for example, the direct route from Goodland, Kansas to Sheridan, Wyoming is much safer than Goodland - Cheyenne - Muddy Mountain - Crazy Woman - Sheridan

It is often said (by instructors especially) that getting an instrument rating will make you a better pilot. I say that it will demonstrate that you focused on a goal and persisted until you got the rating. I think it exposes you to additional knowledge and procedures but it is a transient skill that must be exercised regularly to maintain and it exposes the pilot to greater risks in exchange for the convenience.

Bob Axsom

Last edited by Bob Axsom : 10-11-2013 at 10:24 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:44 AM
JDBoston JDBoston is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Boston Area
Posts: 311
Default Excellent Advice


I agree with you 100%. Even though at this point I am still flying a Cherokee 180, more or less the same aircraft you used to fly the Instrument rating does give you plenty of rope to get yourself into trouble with.

That being said, it is a very valuable tool and I keep proficient or don't use it until I am. I am always prepared to fly down to mins at any time however still prefer 'gentlemens IFR' and in light airplanes Archer/Cherokee (assuming RV as well) I find that enough lifting in the clouds can toss you around enough to scare me at times.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Status: Tail mostly complete, Wings complete(ish), Working on: Fuselage Kit, Finish kit on order (EXP119)

Last edited by JDBoston : 10-11-2013 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:56 AM
Chris Thomas Chris Thomas is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 30


-1st get an instrument rating. 2nd decide what is the best aircraft. You will at least have context for the decisions.

-You need de-ice capability.

-Performance margin. When descending is not an option (terrain, another flight operating below you, moderate ice in the mid-teens) and you need (must) to climb you are lacking good performance margin. Think of a bad but realistic scenario; you are heavy, cruising at 17K, something prevents you from descending (see reasons above), you are carrying some ice (can?t be shed; deice vs. anti ice vs no protection) and you need to climb at a least 500 fpm?
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:53 AM
KleensRV6's Avatar
KleensRV6 KleensRV6 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: 3rd Rock fm the Sun
Posts: 119

Bob Axsom, Rob Hickman et al have explicitly captured the importance of this post. Is it worthwhile to get an IFR ticket? Very rewarding and beneficial. Is it possible to fly IFR in an RV? Yes, but once you have obtained the IFR rating you will gain a new found appreciation for such things as flights into known icing. There are far worse things in life than being squeezed into an air carrier for a few hours across the Cascades and the Rockies. Not much but a few.
Jailbird/CW Kleen
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:20 PM
BobTurner BobTurner is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 7,854

Originally Posted by Bob Axsom View Post
you have to rush to get airborne.
This should always set off alarm bells.
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:32 PM
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airguy airguy is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Garden City, Tx
Posts: 5,590

Originally Posted by BobTurner View Post
This should always set off alarm bells.
It should always raise awareness - not necessarily set off alarm bells. I've been in a hurry many times, you just have to make sure all your bases are covered without wasting time. If you start missing items, now that should set off alarm bells.
Greg Niehues - SEL, IFR, Repairman Cert.
Garden City, TX VAF 2021 dues paid
N16GN flying 900 hrs and counting; IO360, SDS, WWRV200, Dynon HDX, IFD440, G5
Built an off-plan RV9A with too much fuel and too much HP. Should drop dead any minute now.
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