Yesterday, another flat land pilot managed to kill himself, his wife, and their six year old child while flying westbound over the Colorado Front Range.
He was flying an airplane with a 14,500 service ceiling over 12,000+ foot terrain on a warm day. Probably decided following Interstate 70 would simplify his navigation. Guess he didn’t think about flying into a box canyon with little room for a 180 degree turn. Where he crashed is about 10,800’. He was not the first in that area.
On Google Earth, find Silver Plume, CO and follow the interstate to the tunnels. Just before the tunnels, US 6 takes off south to Loveland Pass. That is where he hit. Then look at the route he wanted to take.
Around the old Stapleton Airport, there was talk of Jet A used to refuel the Martin, which had recips.
I learned to fly in the Colorado Rockies, so mountain flying was part of the training from day one. There are “safe” routes going east, and “safe” routes going west, depending on the winds aloft. You ignored them at your foolish peril. An airline co-pilot, familiar with the area, and flying an AT-6, tried Devil’s Thumb Pass westbound and hit 75’ below the crest.
Turbulence, downdrafts, and updrafts can make for some weird conditions. Once I was in a Cessna 180 climbing 1,200’ per minute with idle power, full flaps, and 70 M.P.H. indicated over Rollins Pass eastbound. That configuration should have resulted in an 800’ per minute descent. The air had been perfectly calm, and the visibility was severe clear. The turbulence was such I didn’t want to attempt a turn. The mountain wave spit us out at about 15,000’.
At any FBO on the Front Range, a visiting pilot can ask about safe routes. No matter how busy it may be, someone will take the time to show you. Or, take an hour out of your itinerary and fly Cheyenne, WY, Laramie, WY, Hanna, WY, and Rawlins, WY to Craig, CO. Not saying you need to land at each one, just much easier terrain, good airports, available fuel, and some interesting scenery. Plus, you won’t become another statistic.