Tag Archives: KBJC

Leadville, CO

mauleIf you’ve ever been to Leadville, CO, you know it’s a small town, with a small airport, surrounded by Pike National Forest in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. What you may not know, however, is that the airport is North America’s highest (public) airport.  We’re starting at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, KBJC, at 5,673 feet, and flying 70 nm southwest to Leadville’s Lake County Airport (KLXV) at 9,927 ft., in a Maule Orion.

The question isn’t can the Maule  power us up almost 5,000 feet in 70 miles. The real question is can it climb over (or around) the 12,000 foot mountains in those 70 miles? This is our next adventure.

I used SkyVector for my chart. This was a simple flight on paper – a straight shot – but navigating around mountains is tricky. I set NAV1 for an outbound course on the 222 radial of the JEFFCO (BJC) VOR. The weather was good so Metro tower gave us 29R for departure.

I wanted to do a power-takeoff, near-zero-length takeoff, but the takeoff roll was longer than I thought – that’s a bad sign. As I rolled on to the 222 radial and headed for the mountains it become clear that this Maule wasn’t going to top the 12,000 foot peaks in front of me. It struggled to climb to 10,000 feet.

I had to make some tough decisions – which mountain passes do I take. The VFR sectional isn’t crystal clear where the box canyons are or how the passes are shaped. Throw in Flight Simulator’s variable terrain generator and it becomes a guessing game.

There were a couple times I got boxed in and had to turn around. Luckily it’s only 70 miles. I drifted from one valley to another until I was almost on top of Leadville. I made a gliding decent while calling position to local traffic. Soon enough I was on the ground in Leadville wondering what’s next and how am I getting out of here.

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.