Tag Archives: KASE

Oshkosh, WI

dc3For this adventure I’m on a mission: I’m headed to Michigan via Oshkosh, WI (KOSH). My problem this time was choosing an aircraft with enough power to make it over the 12,000 foot peaks of the Rocky Mountains and have enough fuel to make it to Oshkosh. For kicks I chose the Douglas DC-3. That’s right, the old gooney bird. It might be old. It might be ugly. But it has a fairly long range, and it’s not afraid of mountain climbing.

My flight plane from SkyVector.com was a follows – this is all I used, honest:

343° (355°T) 13nm 5.2min DBL RED TABLE (113.0 DBL )
020° (032°T) 39.7nm 15.9min RLG KREMMLING (113.8 RLG )
056° (070°T) 91.9nm 36.7min GLL GILL (114.2 GLL )
065° (078°T) 176.5nm 1h10.6m LBF NORTH PLATTE (117.4 LBF )
056° (067°T) 213.4nm 1h25.4m SUX SIOUX CITY (116.5 SUX )
061° (070°T) 139.8nm 55.9min MCW MASON CITY (114.9 MCW )
075° (081°T) 79.5nm 31.8min UKN WAUKON (116.6 UKN )
073° (078°T) 79.2nm 31.7min DLL DELLS (117.0 DLL )
060° (063°T) 58.5nm 23.4min OSH OSHKOSH (111.8 OSH)
Total 891.7nm

SkyVector estimated this flight to take 5 – 7 hours. Well, let’s just say I made it through about 5 hours before I started getting restless. I kicked it up to 4x a few times between the last few VOR.
The flight was pretty cool. The DC-3 was fun to fly once I got my antique navigation legs back. I flew at 17,500 feet. The weather was fair but I had to keep both hands on the yoke. It tended to drift and rock in 1 kt cross winds; simulators aren’t perfect I guess.

The mountains weren’t really a problem. I went straight north out of Aspen and I crossed the Rockies near their northern end. The fuel was lean and I tried to keep the climb within specs. I think my climb was a little less than 120 kts at about 500 fpm. I say “about” and a “little” because the needles – like the turbulence – were all over the place.

Once we got it leveled off at 17,500 the rest of the trip was smooth. We went from one VOR to the next, using the GPS as “situational awareness” and just to check we were headed in the right direction.

When the main fuel tanks read 20% I switched over to AUX tanks. That happened somewhere over Iowa. The AUX tanks hold about 200 gallons. That took us near Oshkosh. I think the AUX tanks were 20% when I was on final.

I did one missed approach on RWY 36 with a closed traffic (VFR) loop back to 36. At this point in a 6 hour trip I wasn’t much for challenges so I just asked for landing on the second run. I landed safe taxied to the fuel point and promptly shutdown the engines. So much for the beast known as the DC-3. This adventure was in the books and my next trip across Lake Michigan was the one I was looking forward to.

Aspen, CO

dg808sWhat better way to “celebrate” an one-way-in, one-way-out approach than with an only-one-approach aircraft: DG–808S Competition Sailplane – a.k.a. glider. Half of the reason I wanted to fly the glider here is to see if the AI tow-aircraft  (a Maule) could get off the ground at Leadville, Lake County (KLXV). The other reason is what better place to catch thermals than in the mountains. In this adventure I’m flying from Leadville to Aspen, Colorado (KASE), a 26nm “glide.”

For this flight there was no charts; no navigation radio. I used the GPS to find KASE, and I turned on schematic thermals so I could see them.

Flying thermals is hard. Flying thermals in the Rockies at 12-15,000 feet is nearly impossible. I admit I had to cheat and use slew a couple times – the thermals just weren’t cutting it. I read afterwords that the trick to thermals is to fly inside the “donut.” I tried that, but it didn’t seem to help much. I tried flaps, trim, turning-clockwise, turning-counterclockwise, but nothing seemed to get me lift inside the thermal. I also tried riding the “ribbon” of the schematic – that’s where the turbulent air is – that only made things worse. So, I didn’t earn my thermal-riding badge today.

Once I got near KASE there was one more thermal I could shoot on the south side of the valley. That was enough to carry me up a couple hundred feet. Then, I turned toward the airport and made my way down the valley to the north.

When I was about 10 miles away (GPS) I turned back toward KASE and started my descent.  If you think climbing in a glider takes a long time, descending takes twice as long. I think my speed was 40 knots and my descent rate was probably about 500 feet per minute. Needless to say it takes patience. So down I went slowly like a kite.

Within about 1 mile I lowered the gear, set the flaps to full, and kept an ear on the variometer; porpoising a little.