We are three weeks into this adventure now and what should have been a shared highlight of the trip, crossing the Rockies, has left me solo, tired and worn in the left seat. Hans' seat occupied by the iPad in lieu of the Navigator and First Officer.
05:42 sees the wheels leave the ground and I am westbound along HWY 90 now for a little while. In a steady cruise climb I make it up to 6500' and than level off and head for Livingston. Beautiful Morning flight, a few little burbles, but nothing to serious for the first bit of flight. As we are nearing Livingston and Bozeman it is changing and by the time I head into Bozeman Pass the little Rotax is working near full capacity, angrily clawing itself up to 7000' into a buffeting headwind. The foam grip is getting a bit of a squeeze, no doubt.
The "Big Hurdle"
The awesome Montana Scenery...
...and still places to put down
No way we could have done this with both of us on board and gear and fuel. The little 701 is steady, although getting closer to the limitations put forth by being set up for sea level operation. Mainly re-adjust the prop to these new heights. Never the less at 07:00 we are passing the first hurdle at 7000' and as soon as we are through the air gets smoother again. Fuel stop in Three Forks and off again for the next Hurdle, Pipestone Pass at 6453' and on via Butte down to Missoula. Climb out is this good and I am glad to be alone, simply for the reduced weight. The aircraft is also a bit lighter in the winds, but you can't have everything. As I am nearing Pipestone Pass the air starts to act up again, buffeting winds coming through the pass and crossing over we find ourselves at 7600', the highest altitude yet for this little Aircraft. And once again, as soon as we are through the pass it gets smooth again. Wow!
Now all that's left is a slow descent into the canyon down to Missoula, talk to the tower, straight in is approved and at 10:50 MST during shut down, we have a mission accomplished, crossed the Rockies.
The local "Northerstar Jet Center" is really helpful with fuel, car, food and getting me lost. No actually, I can do that just fine by myself, getting lost that is. As I am looking for a Pizza Place for lunch and try to follow the little map handed to me by a local flyeress, I am getting lost. Just tired and not with it a 100% i guess. Last night and this flight certainly wore me a bit.
Okay keep driving, "Well look at that, ...a Subway!" As I pull in, I not only see the Bus Station, but also a small Hotel. Talk about lucky once again, everything in one place. Food, bed, ...get Hans from the Bus tonight ...and carry on tomorrow. Gotta love it when a plan falls into place!
Looking "downhill" from Missoula
The "Northstar Jet Center"