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Grand Canyon and Las Vegas

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Grand Canyon and Las Vegas

Old 28th Jun 2012, 18:14
  #1 (permalink)  
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Grand Canyon and Las Vegas

Hi, we are planning atrip to Grand Canyon (KGCN) and Las Vegas Henderson (KHND). We will fly PiperArcher II Ė 2 adults and 2 children. I am little bit worried about KGCN, asdensity altitude is there something about 9.700ft. Itís absolutely out of anygraphs in Piperís Information Manual. When I interpolate the graphs, it lookslike running length for take-off will be nearly 4000ft and climbing rate willbe 150ft/m. When considering the aircraft is quite old and graphs are for newone, I am not sure itís doable. Does anybody of you have any personalexperience at Grand Canyon under similar conditions? Any hint will be welcome.

Marek
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Old 1st Jul 2012, 00:52
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Marek,

I see no one has answered you yet. I don't have any Grand Canyon experience. I have flown in to Flagstaff in a Citabria & in to Sedona in a Cessna 180. I have also flown in to KHND in a Citation.

Believe what the books say. The difference in performance, mixture required etc is quite a shock initially to a "low lander" such as I am. The plane hugs the runway & follows the curvature of the earth on climb out, nothing like the sprightly performance I am accustomed to. Full rich (as normal back home)? No way!

Definitely a case for better be safe than sorry. The scenery once you do get airborne is breathtaking & well worth the homework on the ground.
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Old 1st Jul 2012, 01:13
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Shelter,

I'm not sure what your experience is but honestly, if you are on here asking, I'd recommend skipping GCN, first of all, it's full of professional operators, very busy, and 13,000 ft density altitude is not unheard of, I've flown everything from a C172 to a Metoliner in there, and none of them did well at that elevation.

However if you choose to disregard my advice, there are smarter ways to accomplish your flight, I'd imagine you will have plenty of gear, so just make a stop near by GCN and get rid of as much as possible, then plan an early morning flight in, and and early morning flight out with minimum fuel.

Cheers, DL
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Old 1st Jul 2012, 05:50
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Note also there are special flight rules for the Grand Canyon area. There are two north-south routes across the canyon for ga aircraft that require you to be at 10,500 MSL. Most of the canyon area requires you to be at 14,500 MSL.
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Old 1st Jul 2012, 15:55
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As the other posts mention, high density altitude operations can be tricky, and all too often, lethal for the inexperienced flatlander. If you must go, as Dream Land said, plan to go with minimum fuel, and the ONLY reasonable time to fly in and out of there is early morning. I live and work out of high elevation airports, and I would plan an arrival there before 10 or 11 a.m., and departure would absolutley be at first light, while it's still reasonably cool. Standard temperature at an elevation of 6600 feet is 2 or 3 C, nearly freezing, so any day between now and November is likely to have density altitudes, as you note, at well above 9 or 10,000. Further, it's essential that you understand proper leaning techniques, the usual procedure is to adjust mixture for best power (or a bit to the rich side) before take-off, as part of the run-up procedure. This is no different than adjusting mixture for cruising at 9 or 10K. The "Mixture-full rich" in checklists is written only for sea level up to maybe 3,000.
As you also note, takeoff and landing distances will be long, even for turbocharged aircrfat, there's a reason that runway is nearly 9,000 feet long, (and it's not because Singapore Airlines wants to send their A380 in there!) You must fly the aircraft by Indicated Airspeed, as always, but the view out the window on takeoff or final approach will be noticeably faster than you're used to, and somewhat disconcerting.
You do not mention where you will start this trip from, but, I would highly recommend a stop on the way, at a lower airport near the mountains, and hire a local experienced instructor to spend a day or more providing some high density-altitude training. A fully loaded Archer will have marginal performance, even for an experienced high-flyer. Every year out here where it's high and hot, there are tragic stories of overloaded aircraft crashing full of flatlanders on vacation. Please approach this wisely and cautiously so that you and your family do not join the sad list of high-altitude accidents.
You may also be better off to go with one of the professional scenic tour operators, rather than deal with the complexities of the Special regulations and airspace requirements over the Grand Canyon.
Hope this helps in some way, enjoy the trip, it's beautiful!
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Old 3rd Jul 2012, 18:58
  #6 (permalink)  
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Czech Republic
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Hi guys,

Thanks a lot for allyour responses. As I flew on 30th of June morning, I had to decidewithout having them . All of you touched my worries, which were reason forasking. I am used to fly over Alps and this experienced raised my doubts. So,finally, I landed at Bullhead City, refueled to full tanks and continued through2 most eastern corridors (north and south) through Grand Canyon. After it Iheaded directly to Hoover Dam and Henderson Executive Airfield. It was reallygreat trip and I think right decision. My Piper was on top of its performance.Northbound corridor requires 11500ft altitude, which was very difficult tomaintain, when a downstream appeared.

Marek
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