Denver, CO

mooneyNow for a little fun in a Mooney Bravo. The Mooney has a ceiling of about 25,000 feet and we’ll need something with a little kick to get into the Rockies. I decided to fly to a little airport west of Denver called Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, KBJC.

I departed Lubbock (KLBB) VFR to the north and followed V81 from Plainview VOR (PVW) to Jeffco VOR (BJC). The route was PVW PNH DHT TBE PUB BRK BJC. I used SkyVector.com for my charts. Flying at 12,500 feet the clouds were thin and the winds were bearable.
Over Pueblo VOR (PUB) I could see the Rocky Mountains on the horizon so I knew it wasn’t too much further to Denver class B airspace.

The Denver sectional shows that KBJC lies just west of the class B airspace but within class E. I needed to transition class B to get there because I was on V81 from the south and descending from 12,500 feet. There’s actually several layers to the class B “inverted wedding cake” on that corner of the Denver TAC.

I got the transition clearance and started descending to 10,500 feet. Off to the right I could see the city of Denver. I started looking for my airport. Metro sits at an elevation of 5,673 feet, and there are 3 runways with different direction patterns. I was hoping I got the pattern right because there is 10,00 foot peaks less than 10 miles west of the airport.

When I contacted Metro tower I was instructed to make left traffic for 29L. I complied and went missed. When I came back around on the downwind I requested 29R and got it. I floated over 29R for what seemed like eternity and finally put her down in time to turn off at the B taxiway.

I pulled up to the tower and powered down.

Some navigation, some technical flying within Class B airspace, some patterns, and good weather made this a pretty good flight.

Lubbock, TX

172For this adventure I chose to depart College Station, Texas, Easterwood Field Airport (KCLL) and head northwest to Lubbock, Texas, Preston Smith International Airport (KLBB) in a Cessna 172. The terrain starts out flat and fairly low then midway it climbs to a plateau. Skies were clear, wind was calm, so I estimated this trip would take about 3.5 hours at a top speed of 100 knots.

I was flying offline and using Flight Simulator’s ATC. I used SkyVector.com for my charts. My flight plan route was CLL CWK LLO SJT BGS LBB.

Easterwood Tower gave me VFR straight-out from runway 34. I taxied out, did final checks, and away I went.

It was smooth sailing all the way, and the ETE was almost spot on. It took 3.5 hours to reach 20 DME from LBB VOR; approach’s airspace.

The Lubbock Class C airspace is 20nm wide and isolated on the high plains of West Texas. The last leg, BGS-LBB, was on V563 which took me through the Lancer MOA, but ATC cleared me through.

The first time I heard the ATIS, winds favored RWY 26, but when I arrived at LBB VOR, winds had shifted to the south and Lubbock Tower gave me a right downwind to 17R.

On the downwind winds were all over the place. When I lined up on final for 17R I was at about 4900 feet. I tried to coast in for the touch-and-go, but I was too high and too fast; Tower never acknowledge my go around. I re-entered the pattern – fought the downwind winds – and made my way around for 17R again.

On the second try for 17R I was at about 4600 feet and 90 knots. I touched down and Tower acknowledged my go around. Tower gave me 17R again, but I requested and got right traffic 17L. Why not make it a challenge! Runway 17L is only 2891 feet long, and it sits in the middle of hangers and lots of non-movement areas.

After Tower gave me right traffic 17L, off I went on the bumpy downwind. I lined up on 17L at about 4200 feet and 80 knots, but I was at least 6 miles out so I had plenty of time to float down. I brought it in on a gentle slope and touched down just past the threshold.

I taxied to fuel – I had about 25% fuel left in both tanks – and parked it in front of the FBO.

Total trip time was about 3:45 – not bad. This wasn’t a terribly technical flight, but I’m not done with the trip. I think I’ll continue northward.

Tampa, FL

172For this adventure I chose to do some technical flying around the Tampa Bay area. Under VFR conditions we can use basic NDB equipment to navigate between Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida. I chose a Cessna 172 because it’s slow enough that I can see the sights without worrying about the instruments, but this adventure can be done in any small, NDB equipped aircraft.

I used SkyVector.com for charts. I recommend using the Tampa TAC chart plus plates for KSPG, KCLW and KTPF.

Depart Peter O. Knight Airport (KTPF) to the south. Exit Hillsborough Bay and fly in a generally western direction around the southern end of the Tampa peninsula. You should see a golf course and MacDill AFB on the tip of the peninsula.

After MacDill (PICNY NDB 388) cross Tampa Bay and head south along the shore of the Clearwater/St. Petersburg peninsula. You should see Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG) before you round the southern point of St. Petersburg.

After rounding Pinellas Point fly north along the beaches until reaching PIE R290 (116.40). Turn east and look for Clearwater Air Park (KCLW). It is approximately 11 DME on the PIE R315.

At this point you can land at the untowered KCLW, or fly to Whitted Airport via the VOR RWY18 approach, or return to Knight Airport via either the NDB RWY3 or the NDB A. I landed at KCLW because I grew up about 500 yards south of RWY 34. It’s good to be back home.