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Thread: Super III altitude

  1. #1

    Super III altitude

    If memory serves me your Super III has a 200 HP engine. I flew my Custom III (180 HP) at 12,000 on my way between Amarillo, TX and Phoenix (with a stop in Belen, NM - E80). I was flying IFR so had to fly at 12,000 to maintain communications with ATC. It was mid-May and 95 degrees in Phoenix. I was at gross weight and if it hadn't been for some updrafts I'd never have been able to get to 12,000! But with 20 more HP and cooler weather you should not have any problem getting to 12,000.

    BTW, the mountains along my route would have not required 12,000 if I
    did not need to communicate with ATC. For the most part the mountains
    were separated by flat land (not like the continuous mountains of the
    Rockies in Colorado). Of course the flat land was around 5,500 feet! If
    you are going to fly at 12,000 have oxygen or make sure you closely
    monitor your condition when flying that altitude for a sustained period.

    David Snodgrass
    Beech Be23 N6083N
    Roanoke, IN

    From: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com
    [mailto:musketeermail@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of a1_sonse
    Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:01 PM
    To: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com
    Subject: [musketeermail] Super III altitude

    Will likely be flying a super III over the mountains of likely New Mexico & was wondering if it took alot of time to get to 11,500ft or if a lower (under 10,000ft) would be better. Never flown in mountains & want to stay some south & get over mountains to Kansas. Just thinking at this point. Also, what do you guy's get for true airspeed & fuel burn also.

    Looks like I may have bought a SUPER III. My friend with planes wants
    to start the HAPPY IDIOTS FLYING CLUB IN OUR NEW GROUP HANGER!!!

  2. #2

    Super III altitude

    Mountain flying is nothing to take lightly . Do some research to understand
    the unique mountain weather systems that can pop up literally instantly.
    Keep a safe terrain clearance all the way. Always have an escape route (to
    lower terrain). Watch those wind forecasts - anything over 20kts aloft can
    be very serious. Updrafts and downdrafts are incredibly strong and you will
    lose most battles with them. You can experience updrafts of 2000 FPM and
    with every updraft there's a downdraft somewhere nearby. Read up on soaring
    techniques and become familiar with windward and leeward air mass movements.

    Load the plane light, watch the DA!!, plan an early morning flight and, if
    possible, ask the locals about preferred routes.

    Here in Colorado there are very few passes I could safely make in my
    Sundowner. The other day I easily made it to 12000' (probably because of OAT
    ~18 F) on my way to Laramie, WY. That was plenty for that trip but
    certainly not high enough for most of the rest of my state.

    Starting at nearly 6000' on the ground here at my airport, I can get to
    10000' feet (on a cool day!) in ~8 minutes (180HP). I intentionally took
    about 20 or 30 minutes more to climb on up to 12000' before turning NW to
    Laramie. But in a cruise climb it could have happened fairly quickly - maybe
    another 7-8 minutes. Again, that was a cold day. In warm wx, twice that
    long, if at all,

    I am not familiar with New Mexico's hills, I'm afraid. Your route may not be
    as high as I'm talking about here but try to ask someone who is familiar
    with local area specifically to be sure.

    It will be a beautiful flight, but be careful.
    -Rick

  3. #3
    from MM..Mon Nov 7, 2005 5:48 pm
    ----------------------------

    Sundowner 31S Crash Synopsis

    Hi Gang,

    I owe many pilots on MM this story, and I'll try to keep it
    chronological and factual as best as possible. I present it for you to
    draw "what would I do..." conclusions. Lord knows I made several
    "shouldve done differently in hindsight" decisions enroute, and a few
    nearly cost us the ultimate price.

    We departed TWF (twin falls, ID) on a return flight to Los Angeles on
    Labor Day, 2005. 3 on board, baggage, and 40 gals fuel put us at gross
    weight. TWF elevation is over a mile high, and we left at appx 11am on
    a hot morning. Route of flight was TWF-TPH-AJO (Twin Falls, Tonopah,
    Corona)

    Aircraft demonstrated an anemic climb, as was expected due to
    elevation and DA. Climbed out at ~200fpm the entire way. Similar to
    our departure from HHR and TPH on the flight up, so not alarming.

    The high desert thermal activity was typical of a hot summer day - up
    or down 1000fpm, and a constant "hunt" with the trim wheel. We
    finally established a 2500' AGL cruise altitude, and I just watched
    the VSI and rode the thermals up and down as best I could.

    Appx 90 minutes enroute, we passed south of Elko, NV (about 250nm west
    of Salt Lake City), and over an appx 1200' dropping mountain ridge. We
    were travelling the typical "I follow roads" method, and were
    following NV highway 227. Within about 2 or 3 miuntes, the VSI
    established a -500fpm drop, not unusual. I pitched up slightly to
    counter it, as was my habit the entire flight. Instead of a nudge
    back to 0, the VSI continued swinging to -1000 drop. I cross-checked
    altimeter, verified that was a correct reading, but "hung on to ride
    it out" since this was still not unusual for our flight. In the next
    minute, the VSI showed -1700FPM. As the terrain was heading downward
    away from us (and in fact, our AGL seemed not to degrade much), I did
    not try to execute a U-turn, and by this point, at this descent rate,
    it would have been dicey at best to make it back over the ridge. I
    continued forward, and fought with the VSI as best I could.

    After appx 10 minutes, I stabilized the ROC to 0, but at a great cost
    -- we were down to appx 1000' AGL, less than half of our prior buffer,
    and the plane refused to climb any higher. We continued our following
    of NV 227, I did a circling climb to little effect, and then aimed for
    the foothills to try to find a thermal.

    After another 10 minutes or so or hunting and pecking, we had managed
    to degrade our altitude even further (appx 600 AGL), and I made the
    decision to attempt a landing in terrain or highway. The nearest
    airport was on the other side of the ridge, and with this little
    altitude, a thermal had the potential to drop us into hostile terrain.
    Additionally, the terrain between here and TPH was "rolling", and not
    conductive to further flight. We lined up with the very straight
    length of NV 227, and began a descent.

    At appx 80mph airspeed and at 50AGL or so, with 2 miles of highway
    ahead, one of my passengers spots a high-tension power line ahead at
    roughly 15' high. I decide this is not a good obstacle, and try to
    climb over it. Airspeed drops to 70, and a return to perhaps 100AGL.
    Not enough for my comfort level, so I add 10 degrees flaps and float
    to appx 250AGL and "well clear" of the lines and our length of road.
    NV 227 veers to the left and down through curving terrain, so I follow
    at 250AGL and wait for another straight segment to re-attempt.

    At 70mph and 10 degrees, I line up for another approach. Another 2
    mile length of NV227, and no power lines nearby. I execute a
    10-degree approach, and just as we are touching the mains, an
    18-wheeler Semi rounds the corner ahead of us, doing appx 70. We're
    doing 70, and there is perhaps a mile between us. Some quick mental
    calculations reveal this is BAD -- so I try to climb out. The Semi
    driver must have done the same math, since he begins swerving also (on
    a 2-lane nevada highway, there are not exactly good places to pull
    over). I add 10 more degrees of flaps, and pass over him, low on
    kinetic energy, at about 40AGL. We see the unhappy look on his face.
    Not sure if he saw mine. I imagine he got very drunk at the next bar.
    No bars are available for us yet, so we soldier on.

    At this point, our situation is fairly critical and I brief the
    passengers (in case they didn't get it) that we likely had one more
    attempt at this landing business. I located a private cattle-access
    road to the right of 227 on farm land. It is curvy, rolls up and down
    with the terrain, and is generally a nightmare to track. We track it
    anyway, using more aggressive roll and yaw, and I add full flaps to
    commit and slow us to about 60. Finally, the private road straightens
    out for about 500', and we touch mains and begin slowing the bird. My
    eagle-eyed passenger points out a sturdy steel livestock gate at the
    end of our road. I brief the passengers to "brace themselves", pop
    the nose into a high stalling attitude, and ram the gate chin-high at
    appx 50mph (setting off the ELT, which we hear in our headsets) The
    left fuel tank caught on the steel fencepost (appx 4" thick), and
    kicked us into a strong left yaw. The entire plane spun 90 degrees
    left, "jumped" the main farm road we intersected, and landed in soft
    dirt on the opposite side. On the final landing, the gear collapsed
    due to side-load. Everybody unbuckled and climbed out quickly -- we
    assessed ourselves as unhurt, then began shutting off the fuel, the
    ELT, and walked into the farmhouse to use the phone.

    The farmers made us lunch, and were related to the local sheriff, who
    gave us a lift into Elko. As there were no rental cars available for
    at least a week (!), we hitchhiked to Reno, rented a Cadillac, and
    were back in Los Angeles by 7am the next morning. None of us went
    into work.

    Lessons taken:

    1. Increase altitude minima on turbulent/windy hot summer days (which,
    as a desert pilot, I deal with alot)
    2. Late morning flight will result in degrading performance due to
    increasing density altitude
    3. Respect mountain ridges. I did not understand this phenomena
    before, despite reading on it recreationally.
    4. I intend to enroll in a soaring class, to better understand
    mountain thermal dynamics, so I can pick out better spots for thermal
    lift. I feel that my energy management skills are honed.
    5. Put a turbo bonanza on my xmas list.

    It was indeed the best landing of my piloting career. Make no
    mistake, the training will take over and not allow you the luxury of
    panic, so you may as well not even think about "what would I do". My
    brain reached for just about every aviation factoid I have ever
    consumed, and boiled it into an amazing stew of calculus and
    action-dictation that was truly awesome to experience -- some might
    call it out-of-body. I'll call it self-preservation overdrive.
    That said, we are of course triple-lucky to have even had the 3
    opportunities for landing, and ultimately, to have set her down
    successfully. This being my first crash, I'm still in awe of the
    Beech engineering. The left wing struck a 4" steel gatepost at 50mph,
    and merely twisted to absorb it. (the gate was flattened) The light
    aluminum of the leading edge of course crumpled, but the spar held.
    The fuselage is in perfect structural shape, and the plane could be
    reassembled with a pair of wings and flown, just not economically. As
    we all know, Beech makes a great airplane -- and I'm still amazed at
    the amount of force it took with so little damage.

    $0.02 -- look out for those thermals

    - Mike

  4. #4
    Ferrying SuperMouse home we crossed LaVeta pass at about 12,900 with still having ~150fpm climb. I don't know that I have had her over 10k since that day, although it's on my list again to see what sort of absolute ceiling I can make. That day was somewhat colder than standard conditions, but not a lot at altitude.

    Long climb would be hard to say, we came out of ABQ up past Santa Fe and Alamosa so we were picking up cruise levels all the way up, with a little zigging and zagging around the 0 mark so some times we were only going 1000 ft at a time. I will say we easily made 8k from ABQs 5300 in < 10 minutes. From flatland here around 1000MSL I make a 6.5k-8.5k cruise in 10-15 minutes of cruise climb although solid climb numbers are not common as normal flying has us working out from under MSPs wedding cake, especially since they added the 7k shelf.

    I will say - if your paint is rough and oxidized or the plane just plain grimy - give it a wash and wax. I did a wing wash and a wing _top_ only wax and gained 3-4KIAS and 200+ of climb. Come spring we'll repeat the wash (although I'm starting to think it's not worth the labor versus a kerosene wipedown) and then wax the whole thing and see what we get.

  5. #5

    Super III altitude

    Look at routes that take you north of the mountain at Tucson and cross the Rockies at Albuquerque or El Paso and you will not need to climb too high. The Rockies are a bit lower there than in Colorado. You should be able to make 11,500 with a Super III. I can make it with my A23 if I am not too heavy and the day is not too hot. This time of year you should be ok. I crossed at Albuquerque in late April when the ground temperature at Midland was over 100, but had some trouble maintaining 10,000 when at near full fuel in the afternoon over the eastern NM desert. You will have 200 hp rather than my 165, so that should help. I would not try it with 3 or 4 souls on board or heavy baggage and full fuel. I flew it with my wife and myself and about 50 lbs of baggage. When I left ABQ I loaded to 40 gal of fuel and flew south to a airway that was a little lower and the south leg gave me time to climb. It was about 90 F when I left ABQ and I used about 4,000 of the available
    11,000 foot runway.

  6. #6
    Wow, this is good reading!

    I'm no expert, but have been flying around Colorado for the last ten years, 6 years in a 182, a Super III since then. Flown in and out of Leadville, Aspen, Steamboat, Eagle, Buena Vista, Santa Fe, and others many times. My observations / advice, fwiw:

    BTW Mike, you are a lucky person.

    Before you even venture out here, learn more about mountain flying. At a minimum, read a good book - I suggest the Mountain Flying Bible, by Imeson (I think it's available thru Sporty's)

    Ideally, you'l stop here near a city on your way west, and spend a day doing a mountain flying course with an instructor in your aircraft. Your passengers can take the day off. Here at Centennial (APA), there's a hotel right on the airport...

    To summarize my advice, I'll suggest that you gain some higher altitude experience at home first, and formulate your go/no-go criteria in advance, and this will help you avoid many bad situations. Do NOT try to figure this all out in the air.

    Take your plane to 13000 with a full load and see how you like it - don't come here without toying around up there first.

    I have 2 sets of operational criteria for venturing into the mountains, above and below 15 degrees C. I'll limit my comments here to the summer thing.

    First, I consider my 200 hp Super III as a marginal mountain machine, especially in the summer. It ain't no C182. Realize that on many days, you shouldn't be out there. 180hp scares me more, unless you're alone.

    1 - Do NOT load to gross! MY Super III is a 2 person airplane (or maybe add 1 kid) in the summer in the mountains. My wife and I, baggage, and full fuel leaves about 350-400# below gross - you need that margin. Carry 2 hours of fuel reserve. If you don't see at least 500 fpm minimum at takeoff, you need to think real hard right away about changing your plans. More people? - rent a turbo 182 for the trip.

    2 - Fly in the morning. No takeoffs after 10, don't cross passes after 11, be on the ground by noon.

    In Mike's case, these first 2 rules would have made all the difference.

    3 - If winds at the reporting points exceed 25Kts, stay out of the mountains.

    4 - No IFR with MEA's above 10000, AND only over open flatter terrain. This eliminates the mountain peaks / ridges, (about 85% of the airways around here), associated up/downdrafts. I much prefer no IFR at all. I have a friend in a turbo Saratoga, IFR at 16000, and he had a downdraft take him down to within 300' of a ridge. He doesn't do that anymore.

    ONLY good VFR for going right into the mountains. If there's any ceiling, it's made of cirrus.

    5 - Have a solid, pre-planned alternate route decided upon in advance (don't relay on last-minute flight planning while you're sinking into the terrain), preferably 2, especially on a cross country. As you approach higher terrain, think through your plan A, and alternate plans for EACH pass / ridge crossing. Know what to expect on the other side.

    Realize that NO ridge / pass crossing is guaranteed, regardless of previous planning, and you must evaluate your progress real-time. If you're approaching a pass / ridge, and don't like how it's going, know ahead of time which way you'll turn, and what route you'll take as an alternative. That will often be to an airport behind or off to the side of you where you'll spend the evening.

    6 - Try to work from low valleys to high crossings back to lower valleys as opposed to flying over consistently high terrain.

    7 - Be AT your crossing altitude at least 10 miles prior to reaching the pass, 15 if the wind is > 15Kts. Cross at a minimum of 1000' AGL (no wind), but try for 2000. Go for all the altitude you can, the view just keeps getting better. This is for a high ridge with lower terrain beyond. It should be no issue to get back under the 12500 oxygen ceiling within the 30 min limit. If you're only seeing 100-200 fpm climb (average) and your still below the ridge, don't cross it. Do NOT try to "climb so as to clear" the ridge in time - way too many people try that.

    8 - If you do have to land somewhere, don't die on the ground later because no one knows you're out there. Constantly monitor the current center frequency on your com. Have a GPS, and be ready to declare emergency and blurt out your lat/lon quickly. It will be on the tape, and they'll know where to look.

    Assume you might want to climb to 13000 or more at some point. I live at 8000 feet, so I'll do the >12500 for less than 30 minutes thing without oxygen with no ill affect. If you're a flatlander, consider bringing a bottle and a cannula, especially if you're particularly sensitive to this.

    There's more, of course, but these are the biggies I think. Just about every mishap can be looked at, and one or more of these guidelines have usually been comprimised.

    But, if you keep a good head about it, establish your "no-go" criteria in advance, it's a fun and beautiful trip.

    Last June, my wife and I departed APA at 7:30 AM, flew over Kenosha and Poncha passes on our way to Santa Fe, over the sand dunes northeast of Alamosa, cruised at 11500-12000, over the passes at 12-13000, and back down for the next cruise segment. I was getting 3-400 fpm climb to my ridge crossing altitudes (but remembering that things can still go wrong, and I'd have to bail). It was in the high 90's when I landed. Beautiful, smooth ride, and was in the plaza in Santa Fe by 11.

    BTW, I carry a survival kit, and I file a VFR flight plan on mountainous cross countries (which I ofen don't bother with in flat terrain, I admit.)

    Good luck on your trip!

    Mike Ferguson

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Wow, good picture!

    You did a helluva job considering the predicament. Roads are often the best option, but things can go real wrong with that too, right?

    Obviously, the best plan is to avoid the predicament, easy to say from a chair. If I'm ever in the jam you were, I hope I do as good a job as you did...

    mike F

  9. #9
    Just to clear up..Mike B was the pilot & wrote the piece. I haven't heard from him in awhile; he may have moved on.

    Thought the info was relevant to the topic, was aware of it & just passing it along.

    Amazing, given the damage to the left fuel tank area..that she didn't light up.

    j simik

  10. #10

    Super III altitude

    Good afternoon,
    You shouldn't have much difficulty. If you cross below Ratone pass, you will
    need very little altitude. Although, coming straight across is not a
    problem either. My Super III has been up to 14,500 and I can take off at
    Denver and fly direct to Loveland pass with enough clearance. There is a
    big difference between flying over the mountains and flying in the
    mountains. To fly over, try to maintain 2000 agl and you should not have any
    problems. As far as flying in the mountains, you should have some mountain
    flying training before attempting this.
    John

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