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By Skyhawk back from the Pacific - Day 9 -Mack Mesa to Longmont, CO

July 29, 2017 10:54 PM | Michael Brown (Administrator)

Day 9 of my trip, and I'm still in Colorado, but on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.

7:00AM - we've loaded and fueled 46493 and were ready for takeoff.

I'd planned three different routes from Mack Mesa (10CO) to Longmont (KLMO), depending on what the weather would turn out to be. When I got up this morning, it was overcast in Fruita, but pretty much everywhere was reporting the cloud bases to be at least 14,000 feet above sea level, which meant that we could go over most of the mountains and make it through Rollins Pass at 12,078 feet. So, that was our route when we took off.

With its new exhaust the Cessna was noticeably quieter than it had been, and I think the electronic ignition helped the climb from Mack's 4,750 feet to our cruising altitude of 13,500. Here, we're leaving 7,500 and still climbing at 500fpm on our way to 13,000-plus.

All went well until we were about 15 miles from Rollins Pass, and it turned out that although we were still well below the clouds and over the pass, there was an area of rain around the pass which made it impossible to see the mountains. That made Rollins a Bad Idea, but it was clearer to the north, so we headed that way - at the worst, we knew conditions on the Wyoming border were good, and we could get through that pass at 10,000 feet or less. As it turned out, once we got into the southern end of the wide valley which led to the northerly pass, we'd passed the rain and we could see over the Milner Pass to the east.

We flew through Milner Pass at 13,800 feet (a record for me).

As we approached Milner Pass we could see the land beyond it - a good rule of thumb is that if you can see lower terrain through a pass, you're above the pass and can safely fly through it.

Very quickly we were through the passes and descending over Estes Park, where I'll be spending the next few days.

Within fifteen minutes after that we were descending into Longmont Airport (KLMO). I don't think I've ever been at a pilot controlled (a/k/a untowered) airport which was so busy. We entered a downwind after three other aircraft, with another three or four behind us in the pattern.

We were on the ground by 9:30, picked up our rental car (an Audi SUV, if you can believe it) and set off for the family reunion.

My route for the day - the straight lines from waypoint-to-waypoint is the planned route, the red line shows the GPS log for the actual flight.

I'll be here until Wednesday, and then will be on my way back East.

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