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R44 Flight in/around Grand Canyon


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Has anyone out there flew into, out of, or around the Grand Canyon in an R44? Can you please share your experiences? Are the updrafts and high DA too difficult for an experienced R44 pilot to overcome with the small piston helicopter? What are the SFRA rules about landing in the canyon under Part 91?

 

I have already watched the slideshow at:

http://grandcanyonairspace.iat.gov/index1.html

 

Does this have current SFRA information? Any more information you can provide is much appreciated.

 

Thanks.

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Has anyone out there flew into, out of, or around the Grand Canyon in an R44? Can you please share your experiences? Are the updrafts and high DA too difficult for an experienced R44 pilot to overcome with the small piston helicopter? What are the SFRA rules about landing in the canyon under Part 91?

 

I have already watched the slideshow at:

http://grandcanyonairspace.iat.gov/index1.html

 

Does this have current SFRA information? Any more information you can provide is much appreciated.

 

Thanks.

 

As you saw from the slides, the SFRA for General Aviation has some fairly high altitudes that you will be required to adhere to for overflight. Note that the commercial operators minimums are different. In order to fly those routes, you must be employed by one of the operators and have passed a yearly route check. A pilot that is checked out cant simply fly his friends out in an R44 either. The operators there take the regs seriously and for good reason. Safety is very important to us all. Be sure to review both the Las Vegas Sectional, as well as the Grand Canyon VFR chart.

 

There is no landing in the bottom for general aviation that I am aware of. The entire canyon is covered by the SFRA. The companies on the west rim have agreements with the Hualapai Nation with respect to landing sites and the fees paid for the landing. I am unaware of any other landings permitted anywhere in the canyon. The tour operators on the south rim are air only operations, with the exception of landings by agreement with the Navajo in the Little Colorado River Gorge to the east. When the Havasupai resume operations there may be some landings at Supai Hill but I am unsure of what company will be doing those.

 

There are multitudes of helicopters and airplanes operating within the SFRA, and you can imagine the chaos that an unfamiliar and untrained pilot could have on the routes if they were open to GA.

 

You do have a couple of options for landing near the canyon. You can fly into GCN on the south rim, or to 1G4 on the west rim. the west rim airport is open to the public, but there is a landing fee. From 1G4 you can actually fly outside the SFRA close to the rim of the canyon, but I would STRONGLY discourage that due to the high amount of commercial helicopter and fixed wing operations coming and going from that airport. There is 1Z1 as well, which is open to the public, but some distance from the rim of the canyon. The terrain surrounding the canyon in some of the unrestricted areas is breath taking. Just make sure you know where you are!

 

As far as performance calculations, those you would have to make yourself for the conditions on the day you were planning to visit. I can just say that wind and turbulence can be an issue to consider for sure. Its not your pistons that are the problem, its your rotor system. There are days when the 206's dont fly for the same reason. I was rather surprised to learn what "moderate" turbulence felt like flying through it for the first time there.

 

Sorry to be the bearer of such negative news, but there is some information for you. If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me. If you fly out to the western part of the canyon, I can give you an idea of some great places to go, and also how to stay clear of the tour routes and the restricted areas.

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Mark is spot on. Having flown tours out there myself I am well aware of the regulations. You will need to follow the regulations and the Grand Canyon Sectional chart. You won't be able to land in the Canyon. If you are coming from the West Rim I might suggest landing at Gran Canyon West Airport and you can enjoy getting close to the Canyon on the ground there (fees of course).

 

One issue and the biggest is your Fuel. Gran Canyon West Airport DOES NOT have services. The closest airports are either Boulder City and Kingman. You will be very limited in what you can do. So take a good look at your flight planning first and see what if anything you'll be able to do then plan from there.

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...I can just say that wind and turbulence can be an issue to consider for sure. Its not your pistons that are the problem, its your rotor system. There are days when the 206's dont fly for the same reason. I was rather surprised to learn what "moderate" turbulence felt like flying through it for the first time there.

 

Is this a 'mast bumping' thing to which you are referring, or is there something else?

:huh:

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Is this a 'mast bumping' thing to which you are referring, or is there something else?

:huh:

 

 

That would be one of the issues yes. Bad things are possible when you unload the rotor system... or if it is unloaded for you in the case of excessive turbulence. There is a torque concern as well.

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