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Aspen, Telluride question

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Well-known member
Nov 27, 2001
Are there any sites which talk about techniques involved with the approaches IFR and VFR? Are there any sites or books which have detailed photos of high altitude, mountainous airports? Thank you to any response(s).
I flew a Hawker 700 into Aspen a few times, both IMC and VMC. The airport is easy in VMC; there’s plenty of room to maneuver in the valley. It is normally a one-way airport, landing to the south and departing to the north because of terrain. In IMC, the approach minimums are higher than basic VFR minimums, so you need to be careful when accepting an approach clearance. Departing in a Hawker can be a problem depending on the model; in a –700 you can’t get out with much fuel because of performance. The staff at Aspen Base Ops is very good, especially with winter ops, as you’d expect.

I haven’t been into Telluride, so I don’t know much about operations there, other than that it’s the opposite of Aspen – instead of lying in a valley, it’s on top of a plateau.

The FAA has a website with some general information on flying into the mountain airports, including slot control, which is in effect this time of year. The Denver Center High Mountain Flying website: http://www.nw.faa.gov/ats/zdvartcc/high_mountain/

The Aspen Airport has some good information as well in the section on operating procedures: http://www.aspenairport.com

There are some pictures at this site – they’re not the best, but they give you some idea: http://www.mountainflying.com

Your best bet for photos and airport operations info is Jeppesen’s “Airport Qualification and Familiarization” program. The material is excellent, but it’ll cost you – I think it’s around $10.00 per airport. They do have coverage of both Aspen and Telluride: http://www.jeppesen.com/store/cnis/tripkit/tripAQFS_index.phtml

Hope this helps some.
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Those photo's jetpup noted by jep, are the only things I can think of that exist. A lot is said of these mountain airports but If you fly the approach by the book you'll be ok. Especially now that the weather has cooled off a bit, aircraft performance gets better.I've been into both airports many times in different types of business jets and in good and bad weather. At ASE, if you get the visual and the wx is good, the trick is to dirty up your aircraft and point your nose to the ground while trying to clear the ridge, then S-turn a bit until you are over the highway which will take you to the numbers of the runway. To be able to complete a straight in, you will use 2500fpm on the final descent to the runway. Nothing to be worried about if the weather is good. I believe the instrument procedure is self explanatory. Telluride has a bit of a grade to the runway, kind of like a big U. The airport does a good job of keeping the runway clean when it does snow. One thing I would caution you about is the runway gradient. If you float down the runway you could be looking at landing half way down the runway and if the wx is only so,so, forget about a go around straight ahead into the mountain. I usually try to land as close to the numbers as possible.(Please don't lecture about going below vasi) With good preparation and execution you will enjoy flying to these airports.
Real Deal

Guys this flying stuff is real simple. When you transition from IFR to visual during a approach you must "keep your eye on the ball", you do this by staying on the GS or VASI and don't sink under no matter what. My personal opinion on the Aspen crash was metally the pilot didn't want to do the complex missed approach procedure under hard IFR in mountains. I think he talked himself to going below minima in order to maintain visual contact with the runway or the get visual contact with the runway. We will never know exactly what happened but I know the situation as I have been there myself. You think your diciplined until you get into that situation, under the pressure you can't even recall the missed approach much less carry it out and execute it. It just feets better to press on an get the job done, it always worked out before.....Don't throw stones until you have been there. That is why the Navy has LSO's on the carrier deck, he tells you to bag it and go around.
Part 121

In a Part 121 operation you have diffrent classifications. If it is a real tough one ...let's use Tegucigalpa,Honduras first you will review the visual pictorials, Jep does a great job. Next you will review a company procedure for the airport which will list standards, flap setting, autobrake setting etc. Included will be the company/FAA approved engine out procedure for the airport. Next you will review a video of the approaches from every angle, plus a nice picture with the wx down at minimums. After that it is off to the sim. to practice some approaches and landings to get you ready for the real thing. Next you sit on the jump seat for the complete procedure with a checkairman flying the approach. Next you fly the trip with the checkairman in the right seat. Then you get a final line check with a regular first officer and line-checkairman on the route, after all that he signs you off. You wonder why 121 has such a great safety record--it just doesn't happen.
Let me clarify one thing please. I new somebody was going to jump on the" below vasi thing " that's why I added no lectures please but I should have explained myself in more detail. When the gentleman wrote asking about techniques into and out of Aspen and Telluride I felt I could share with him some of mine. Some things I assumed: Since he is flying in on a business jet I assumed he was not part 121. That leaves him 135 or 91. In part 91 ops there is nothing wrong with going below vasi to assure a safe landing( part 91.129e3). I am assuming that he will use his/her own good judgement and not rely on my tips. Hopefully after a nice landing he can say, ahh I see what he means. , As far as the Aspen crash goes, the captain could have done only two things. he either called the field in sight when he didn't have it, because of the reported vis, figuring he'll see it soon, or he lost it after passing the MAP. Once you pass MAP at ASE, you're toast. That's why I said the instrument approach is self explanatory. You follow what the plate says. Now I also agree that 121ops are safer than other ops and its wonderful that you can get that kind of training for going into certain airports. Like most other pilots, the first time I flew into an airport is actually in the airplane itself. I've flown into Tegu, Bogota,Cusco Peru, numerous European, African, Middle East, and Asian airports safely, only one required a safety pilot on board ( CuscoPeru ) I still consider myself a safety oriented pilot. One more thing, please no " assumed " lectures.
Tell it the way it really happens and some guy will go out there and kill himself. Come work for my company I need someone else for the first officers to complain about to take the heat off me. LOL
Thanks but no thanks, I'm happy where I am, but thanks for asking. Business is very good and the trips look pretty nice. That 73 you're flying is tempting, but I'll stick with my little mix of aircraft. I've been flying the GIII & IV and the westwind lately and that has been real fun.

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