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Rotors goes to Leadville! Bell 429 * US101 * Black Hawk


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Hey all,

 

I have been waiting for weeks now to get a chance to land at Leadville Airport. Everything came together today and off we went… it was one of the best flights I’ve ever done. There are a couple of Gentlemen in from Hillsboro Aviation at Rotors. They are taking a mountain-flying course in the Schweizer 333 and wanted to fly to Leadville. The weather was right and we decided to tag along in the R44.

 

I have included some photos below and also a separate link to an album I added to my photo bucket account for more photos.

 

http://s298.photobucket.com/albums/mm243/R...nHI2/Leadville/

 

Since Leadville is at such a high altitude there are many aircraft put thru trials there.. We were lucky to find this taking place as we landed:

 

One of the new Bell 429s was sitting on the ramp, a gorgeous ship with tons of instruments in the back seat. There is a Canadian company doing the trials thus the registry. They also had a lab set up and many people at work there. Check out the main and tail rotors with all the sensors attached.

 

There was a Black Hawk sitting on the North End of the airport, the crew was out for lunch. They were participating in high altitude training and the guys from Hillsboro were thrilled to get photos with the ship. We too were glad to see the BH and take some photos, but this is a common sight at Rotors as Mike flies these exact ships for the Guard.

 

The highlight for me (since I saw the 429 at Heli-Expo), was seeing the AgustaWestland’s US101 up-close and personal. The techs there were very cordial and allowed us to take photos on the outside.. We were however not allowed to get near the inside or take photos thereof. (Which was fine with us, thanks guys!) Check out the size of the blades in the photo with Mike.

 

Some info on the US101:

 

http://www.TeamUS101.com/index.cfm

 

The first test aircraft built specifically for the VH-71 Presidential Helicopter program made its maiden flight on July 3 at AgustaWestland's facility in Yeovil, UK. During the 40-minute flight, test pilots performed general aircraft handling checks, tested flight characteristics at varying speeds up to 135 knots, and evaluated the on-board avionics systems.

 

Comment on the issue from our resident “Mr. Google”:

 

“There's quite a history with the US101, by the way - it's now the most expensive helicopter in history. Each aircraft is going to cost around $270 million, that means that they will cost more than the Boeing 747s that serve as Air Force One.”

 

The Flight

 

The flight to KLXV started about 11am, we flew south to Chatfield and then west over the foothills. The weather was perfect when we left Metro (KBJC) with very little clouds and wind Variable at 4kts. We flew directly over Waterton Canyon which is beautiful (photo with dam) and a great place to ride mountain bikes.

 

I was surprised how much flat area there is on the way up from this direction, and how many people live out there. Tons of places for a forced landing, I would guess that for the whole round trip better than 90% of the way had decent places to set down if you had to. We crossed an area where there had been a huge fire, you can see in some of the photos that the foliage is struggling to return. The highest crossing on the way in was around 12,000’. I was also surprised to find that the Airport is actually in a flat valley and easy to see and get to.

 

I flew the approach to hover and taxied in… it was a TOTAL non-issue. We expected that at 9927’ in a R44 with two guys (370lbs total) it would be at least a little touchy, but not the case. I could certainly tell that we were at altitude, but we still had plenty of power to spare. (The temp was 15C upon landing, alt 30.45) As we hovered we did a left 360 to check the power and it was clear that the engine was working harder than normal, but the ship stayed right where she was. We left Metro with full fuel and landed with a little over half in both tanks.. Flight time was 3 hours round trip on the Hobbs.

 

We had planned to go into town for lunch, Dan has two crew cars available, but the guys in the Black Hawk had taken both to town. (On this issue, in case you don’t know it yet, almost all airports have cars for pilots to use, and most times for free if you fuel up. Sometimes they are already out, but almost every time I’ve landed on a cross country and needed a car there was one waiting!) We could have waited for the cars to return but weather moved in almost scary fast. You can see in the photos of us on the way to Leadville that the sky was clear… but after only 40 minutes on the ground refueling and checking out the aircraft… there were clouds moving in and even some light rain. Mike commented on how fast the weather could change in the mountains and we were standing there watching it happen.

 

Ed flew the departure until we were at altitude over the town of Leadville, the 44 was clearly close to its limits here. We had added 15 gals of fuel for the return and the temp was still 15C. The route we took was to follow 70 back East to Denver, across the Divide at the Eisenhower Tunnel and at almost 14,000’. The 44 was great, no problems, but we had to be very slow and deliberate on the collective as pulling power too fast would cause the engine to droop slightly (something we paid close attention to). We could tell that the engine was working harder than usual buy the sound, but other than that we could still catch the 333 with ease. That being said, when we were above 12,000’ and climbing ridges the 333 totally had the upper hand.. it made the climbs look effortless, and at times we just flew around the ridge to be safe since we couldn’t keep up on the climbs without straining the 44… (keep in mind that the 333 had three guys in it instead of the 44’s two and it still left us behind on climbs).

 

After crossing the Divide the weather caught up to us, (actually, I guess we caught up with it as it was moving in from the NE). The winds picked up to 14kts and the temp dropped to 4C almost instantly. There were also some very isolated rain showers… we skirted them for the most part but caught the edge of one while going over Dillion Reservoir. The 333 picked up a little ice on the windscreen, which is a good indication of how dangerous it can be flying in the mountains. We had flown only a mile farther South and behind and didn’t see any ice at all.. just slight rain drops on the windscreen.

 

Other than the rain, the flight was a breeze, there was a little mild bump while crossing some of the ridges but we flew around 500 feet higher than the 333, and it was nice to have it out front to see what was coming… in fact, the best part of the day for me was flying behind Mike as he explained what he was about to do and what was happening to the 333 along the way. I think the guys from Hillsboro totally scored: a mountain course, a turbine transition, Leadville, all the cool aircraft.. what a deal!

 

Thanks to Dan at Leadville, for the time and tour.. can’t wait to go back!!

 

(From their website, link below)

 

“It is the highest airport in North America and the third highest in the world. Two higher airports exist in the South American Andean Mountains. This "highest" distinction is very important because the performance of an aircraft (ability to take off and climb well) deteriorates rapidly with altitude. In fact, many aircraft are operating above their manufacturer's specification altitudes when flying in Leadville.”

 

http://www.leadvilleairport.com/

 

RUNWAYS
34 AND 16 
Length: 6,400 feet - Width: 75 feet Paved asphalt with pilot controlled lighting and PAPI lights on both runways. UNICOM frequency 122.8 ATTENDED 
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily, 
AV 100LL, JET A and rental cars. 
Fuel available 24 hours. TRAFFIC PATTERN ALTITUDE
 10,700 feet left for 34, right for 16

 

More info on Leadville: Link to AirNav site:

http://www.airnav.com/airport/KLXV

 

 

aloha,

 

dp

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I was there on Tuesday. I was impress with both the Bell 429 and he US101. The US101 was incredibly quiet for its size. One of the things they were testing were different blades for performance and noise.

 

The Bell guys were sliding along the runway most of the time I saw them. They were going through shoes pretty quickly. Also, doing a doozy of a job messing up the runway.

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Hey Dp. glad to hear the trip went well. Did you get your certificate?

 

Hey K,

 

of course.. and a coffee cup too!! bummer that we didn't get to see the US101 fly tho, i didn't know it was even flying at all... would like to see that. oh well, guess we have to go back!

 

aloha,

 

dp

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dp- great shots, beautiful scenery, I was jealous after the first paragraph !

 

I made my first high altitude landing last week, DA was 5400 feet in the high desert.....kinda pales in comparison!!!

 

Goldy

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dp- great shots, beautiful scenery, I was jealous after the first paragraph !

 

I made my first high altitude landing last week, DA was 5400 feet in the high desert.....kinda pales in comparison!!!

 

Goldy

 

 

Goldy,

 

i keep telling you to come out and fly with me.... (can i say that on here?) :-) thanks for the words tho..

 

it was a great flight, can't wait to do it again..

 

next post is going to be on a long line course.. i get to ride along, not taking the course yet.. but i will post all about it.

 

aloha,

 

dp

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FlynHigh.. thanks much for the post. i almost registered my LLC as "Heliporn Inc." :-)

 

Rocky, great shot, thanks for that, can i copy it to my photobucket?

 

dp

 

Sure thing.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Robert,

 

I called Leadville airport to get an answer to your question about the 22 everyday for a week before i left for the Robbie course... no answer!!??

 

I will try to contact them this week as i am interested as well. I also looked thru my photos to see if i got a shot of one on the wall at the office, to no avail!

 

Will try to reach them now that i am home!

 

 

dp

 

you too can call the airport fbo at: (719) 486-2627

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Hello All,

 

I got ahold of Dan today at Leadville Airport. He said he wasn't sure about a R22 landing there, he said it seemed that there was one in Montrose that flew in a couple of times but he couldn't be sure.

 

hope that helps!

 

aloha,

 

dp

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