Flying my Xenon in the Colorado Rockies

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
Flying my Xenon in the Colorado Rockies


Recently there was a thread that intimated that flying over unlandable terrain was bad pilot decision making. While I agree with the sentiment, where you live and fly sometimes makes that easier said than done.

Here is a video clip of what is one of my easier routes out of the Arkansas River Valley where I base my Xenon at Salida airport, 7,500'. There is a road along the river and in most places I could land on either fields or the road itself. The video clip does not look like it but I was always within gliding distance to the road.

I appreciate the sentiment of flying over landable terrain. For me I have a line of 14,000' peaks 8 miles west of my airport. I can go north up the valley a ways to Leadville- the highest airport in the US at 9,934'. Farther than that leads to another line of 14,000' peaks.

I can go directly south at 10,000' to get over Poncha pass and into the San Luis Valley which will lead me to routes east or west. To get east to the front range I have to fly about 11,000' to get over La Veta Pass.

Rob Dubin
 

GyrOZprey

Aussie in Kansas.
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
3,050
Location
Whitewater KS
Aircraft
Butterfly Aurora N5560Z / Titanium Explorer N456TE & N488TE/ - trained in MTOsport 446QT/488FB
Total Flight Time
845
I have been thinking about doing a little cross country trip this late summer late Aug/Sept ...following the Arkansas river to the front range ... ...then hop up to visit Thomas & Linda F @ Colo Springs ...to venture deeper into the mountains ...I feel I need to take some mountain flying training ... or have a fly buddy / some-one familiar with the terrain & conditions!

Flying over "tiger-terrain" ...where emergency landing options are next to nonexistent ....is a calculated risk ....and we all take them from time to time!

I know a lot of the Gopro footage I took of our flying around Moab ....caused viewers to question ..."where were the landing spots" .... but there were plenty of tracks , roads & open areas ...that were not obvious on the video!
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
This video is going west, up the Arkansas from Canon City to Salida. The last few seconds show the valley where Salida sits, and the big mountains in the distance are mostly 14,000’. You should take a mountain flying course before venturing this way in a gyro. Continuing up river takes you to Leadville.

Much of mtn flying for Colorado is book learning. The Colorado Pilots Association puts on a great course twice a year, but any Front Range flying school can teach you.

For flying in Colorado most of our airports are big paved and in open valleys so plane handling techniques are standard, and we generally fly through passes well over the mtns. This differs greatly from say mountain flying in Idaho where you often fly down inside the canyons and land at bush strips. There you need both the book learning AND the plane handling skills.
 

DavePA11

Active Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
756
Location
USA
Hi Rob,

Replied to your post in different thread, but sounds like you are from Salida. Flew there in Piper Mirage the other weekend, and bunch of people where in hanger and noticed a Xenon. Maybe was yours? What engine do you have on the Xenon?

Thanks - Dave
 

Eric S

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2012
Messages
123
Location
Kingsland, TX
Aircraft
Sport Copter Vortex & AAI (Sparrowhawk) RAF
Wow. Just wow.

I prefer the desert southwest where I safely fly 50' off the deck for miles and miles and land out often just for the fun of it. Of course, with a 582 my ceiling is around 4,500', so that's a bit limiting. You have to fly what you can afford.

Eric
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
Hi Rob,

Replied to your post in different thread, but sounds like you are from Salida. Flew there in Piper Mirage the other weekend, and bunch of people where in hanger and noticed a Xenon. Maybe was yours? What engine do you have on the Xenon?

Thanks - Dave
Sorry I missed you. That was my Red Xenon you saw. Mine is the 2nd generation with the RST engine. Basically a 914, but with a slightly more efficient turbo than the stock Rotax turbo, then I added an inter cooler, vernier controllable wastegate. So that was about 122 Hp. Just recently I added the larger pistons and had the crank welded to handle the extra power. It’s now about 140 Hp. I’ve only had one flight with the recent mod.

My brother had a Meridien and a Matrix. Great traveling planes..

Let me know if you come back this way.

Rob
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
Wow. Just wow.

I prefer the desert southwest where I safely fly 50' off the deck for miles and miles and land out often just for the fun of it. Of course, with a 582 my ceiling is around 4,500', so that's a bit limiting. You have to fly what you can afford.

Eric

You are lucky Eric. I really like it when I get to fly over lower safer more relaxing terrain. When I flew my Sparrowhawk to all 48 states I crossed West Texas at between 20’ and 50’ AGL. It was a blast and I could have landed anywhere.

Rob Dubin
 

dunc

RAF/Sparrowhawk/SC 2.5 FI
Joined
Aug 1, 2016
Messages
167
Location
Crawford, CO
Aircraft
1967 Turbo/RSTOL/VG Cessna 185 Skywagon, 1946 Grumman TBM Avenger
Total Flight Time
5000
Great video Rob. I am still a gyro newbie, but also plan on flying the Rocks as soon as confidence allows. If you want to go west sometime, over Monarch Pass(?), you are mot welcome to visit and RON here at the Crawford Airpark (99V). I am just now adding a folding crane to my open gyro trailer for upcoming trip to Mentone.
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
I drive near Crawford regularly heading West from here to Montrose and GJ. I’ve considered Monarch and looked at every bit of the route on google earth, but I’d have to fly at about 13,000’ to be safe, then fly over Black Canyon of the Gunnison. For me the pucker factor is a bit too high. But maybe I’ll give you a call next time I drive that way. Or stop in here on your way to Mentone if you want.

Last time I flew to Moab from here I went hundreds of miles out of my way via Farmington to stay over mellower terrain.
 

dunc

RAF/Sparrowhawk/SC 2.5 FI
Joined
Aug 1, 2016
Messages
167
Location
Crawford, CO
Aircraft
1967 Turbo/RSTOL/VG Cessna 185 Skywagon, 1946 Grumman TBM Avenger
Total Flight Time
5000
As a mountain flying instructor, I understand "old pilots and bold pilots". If you want to make an early morning flight over, RON, and return the next morning, I am most happy to accommodate you.

Monarch is 11,300 ft. And prevailing wind from the east every morning, thus upslope lifting on the west approach side. But you are PIC. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is among the best aerial views around. But it gets better with fall colors. Maybe then.

We are returning from Mentone thru Leadville, meeting friends there. Perhaps we can see you in Salida then for a bit. August 12th?
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
Thanks for the offer to visit and stay overnight. Day trips from Salida are really a challenge. Most afternoons here the wind is 25 knots. And with two passes a few miles from the airport 1,500 fpm downdrafts are not uncommon. About 2 years ago Monarch set the record for the windiest place in Colorado recording 143 mph. Salida is I believe the windiest airport in the state.

I really liked flying my Sparrowhawk in strong winds in the Midwest, where the terrain is flat, but here we get the air going up and down as well as sideways.

We should be around August 12th
 

dunc

RAF/Sparrowhawk/SC 2.5 FI
Joined
Aug 1, 2016
Messages
167
Location
Crawford, CO
Aircraft
1967 Turbo/RSTOL/VG Cessna 185 Skywagon, 1946 Grumman TBM Avenger
Total Flight Time
5000
One of my airpark neighbors moved here from Buena Vista. He claims THAT city has the most windy weather!
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
Joined
Oct 21, 2006
Messages
4,872
Location
Colorado front range
Aircraft
Bell 47G-3B-1 / A&S 18A / Phoebus C, etc.
Total Flight Time
stopped caring at 1000
I can certainly understand how big detours make sense there. The last time I went through Salida westbound with my Bell, it was really howling through Monarch (very glad there's an AWOS for advance warning), so I made the big arc south through Poncha Pass, right turn through Saguache, and up through North Pass to get to Gunnison. It was a bit better, although definitely not an efficient direct route.

The Bell has the advantage of a ridiculous service ceiling with its big turbocharger so I can get quite high, but groundspeed can be pitiful in winds that muscular so it doesn't cure everything.
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
I can certainly understand how big detours make sense there. The last time I went through Salida westbound with my Bell, it was really howling through Monarch (very glad there's an AWOS for advance warning), so I made the big arc south through Poncha Pass, right turn through Saguache, and up through North Pass to get to Gunnison. It was a bit better, although definitely not an efficient direct route.

The Bell has the advantage of a ridiculous service ceiling with its big turbocharger so I can get quite high, but groundspeed can be pitiful in winds that muscular so it doesn't cure everything.
Lots of pretty scenery the way you went JR. Flying through the San Luis Valley is nice. My alternate way to the front range is over poncha pass as you did into SL valley then take a left turn near Alamosa and go over La Veta pass. Spectacular vistas. I took that route flying to Oshkosh.
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
You flew to Oshkosh in a Gyro?

A few years ago I flew a Sparrowhawk to all 48 states in the Continental US. I was the first and so far only person to ever do so. That record will be broken very soon by James Ketchell as part of his round the world flight. He’ll do it one better by getting 49 states.

I.ve also flown my Xenon Florida to Colo, Oshkosh RT and others. Gyros regularly make trips like that now.

Www.gyroamerica.com
 

DavePA11

Active Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
756
Location
USA
Amazing! I wanted to fly from MA to FL in my Sportcopter, but wasn’t really equipped for cross county flight. It was early model and didn’t have trim system which is really needed when more hands are needed for navigating.

Must have been an adventure to fly to all 48 states! Longest I flew in the Sportcopter M912 was from MA to Maine. Fun trip along coast, but some major fog formed all around me on way back. Had to fly over the water along the beach until cleared up.

Someday would like to buy another gyro for longer distance flying. I was always flying my gyro while too windy for fixed wing planes. Going to buy a Husky once I find a good one and fly to adjacent states to CO. Just moved to CO, and nice place except for the rattle snake which I encountered on one of my hikes. I ran back down the trail when I heard/saw it... :) such a whimp...
 

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
Welcome to CO. But all the really cool bush flying is in Idaho. I’ve done some of the easier stuff there in a straight leg 182, but. A Husky and the skill to go with it would give you endless possibilities.

If you’ve never looked at it get the book on flying Idaho backcountry

Rob
 

DavePA11

Active Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
756
Location
USA
Thanks Rob, I’ll look for the book! Just bought the book Husky 101 and read it in one sitting. Seems very similar to a Cub, but with more capabilities. I tried the SC M912 for bush flying, but not well suited for uneven slopes. FW is much better. I took a photo of the gyro in Salida. Okay to post? Bought Flying Idaho books. Thanks for pointer.
 
Last edited:

ventana7

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,535
Location
Salida, Colorado
Aircraft
Xenon Gyroplane, Cessna 182
Total Flight Time
1,000+
Sure fine to post.

I think the book I liked best was by Galen Hanselman. It gave each airstrip a 3 part rating - so you could decide where you were going based on your and your aircrafts skills (or lack thereof).
Quite a few are manicured like golf greens and there is no road access to many of them, yet they have camping facilities for pilots.

Rob
 
Top