Crossing the Continental Divide: Hayden/Wolf Creek Passes

One of the more direct and popular ways to cross the Rocky Mountains is over the Wolf Creek Pass.  In this entry about safely crossing the mountains of Colorado, I’ll point out how to accomplish this.  As before, with my previous La Veta Pass entry, I’ll assume the flight is coming from east to west (right to left on the map). Continue reading

LITHxxx: 1/13/07-1/18/07

NEW FEATURE ALERT – Check out all the hyperlinks below. It’s easier to talk about something if I can show you. So starting with these posts there are links to airport and approach info, courtesy of Airnav.Com, a great aviation site.
MUG SHOT – Any of our friends down in Rifle reading? I was the lucky recipient of one of their “Request Rifle” mugs, pretty nice one, too. I thought everyone was getting them, but I guess if someone is working the Rifle approach sector (11-134.5) and they run a certain amount of aircraft diverting from Eagle and Aspen, they get this mug, courtesy of Rifle Airport. Yesterday, both Eagle and Aspen were in bad shape weatherwise and I ran several from there into Rifle. The winds were shifting and we’d go back and forth between RWY26 and RWY8, meaning we’d have to change up the approach sequence from the ILS Rwy 26 to the GPS Rwy 8 approach. At one point I had 5 aircraft holding at 2 different initial approach fixes for the GPS-8 approach. I’d never used that approach up to this point. Also, I used a couple of departures that I’d never used, the oddly named EDUKY1 and equally strangely named UYRIG1, the latter I was told to never, ever use, due to its close proximity to Aspen Approach Controls airspace. But did I listen? Of course not, and since Aspen/Eagle were basically closed, I could run ’em in that way.

NO FLAPS, NO DICE – While holding and vectoring for Hayden/Yampa Valley Airport today, got an unexpected call from #1 in the sequence. An Astrajet told me he couldn’t land there or any runway that either had good braking action, or a fairly long runway as his flaps would not extend. He picked Centennial Airport in Denver, but needed to know the runway conditions, they were fair and snow packed. My supervisor and I thought maybe Denver Intl might be the way to go, with its 16,000′ runway and all. He went with that the last we heard, must’ve made it alright.

FREQ OUT – Hey, I wish there was a way for you 9 loyal readers to listen to what we do as we do it. Well, there sort of is a way, but it won’t be us here in “The Hole”. There is a website called LiveATC.Net that volunteers around the world put up live feeds from their own scanners. I’ve checked it out late at night, when unfortunately it’s pretty dead, but if you tune in places in Europe or Asia, it ain’t dead there. I listened to some guy go down the tubes in Amsterdam once, and since “ATC speak” is in English worldwide, no problemo. Also, here’s a handy little map of Denver Center frequencies. Mainly look at the “low discreet” freqs from GCN to SBS. Now, if our friends at Farmington Tower would pony up a scanner and an internet connection, you’d here a good chunk of “The Hole’s” action online.

GOATHEAD NO MORE – One of our favorite guys down in Farmington, TA, is leaving for greener pastures. From Farmington brown to Seattle green, what a shock to the system, 2% relative humidity to, what, 100%? He’s the one I’d get chewed out by management for answering tower calls with “goathead”. Yes, they actually typed that up on a critique. Great, so now one less regular down there and I’m surrounded now by more (time for an acronym)…
FNG – You wont see this one in the Pilot/Controller glossary. It stands for F(riendly?) New
Guy, or whatever you want that F to be. Then again, guess I’m sort of a FNG myself in this new area, nahh. Good luck and happy trails TA, a future FNG himself.  1/18/07

 

Life In The Hole (LITH) is based on real-life Air Traffic Control (ATC) stories from pilot and controller Chris Rodriguez (unless otherwise noted) of Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).  The comments and opinions are only of the authors and do not reflect the opinions or positions of any other company or organization.

LITH012: Wayward and confessing pilots, and fam flights

TURN AROUND MY WAYWARD SON Today had a disoriented student pilot on his first solo cross country. He was going from Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM and finally asked for help after getting way off course heading east towards the Continental Divide. Farmington Tower had me give him a code and I found him, I told them to switch him over to me but the pilot didn’t want to. I assured the tower I wouldn’t bite him and he reluctantly came over. Continue reading

LITH010: Farewell to regulars and Hall of Shame

FAREWELL TO SOME REGULARS Scotty brought it to my attention tonight that some regulars won’t be flying our friendly skies as much anymore. We work this Lifeguard KingAir on a regular basis in and out of Farmington, NM. Apparently they no longer have the contract and the plane and crew will be taken out of the area. They’ll be missed as they were always great to work with. This airplane was one of the few that I worked that showed up on the FAA’s Accident/Incident website, after which it again flew with us regularly. The incident was on a midshift when the plane hit a coyote on the runway in Farmington. The flight had to be cancelled and there was some minor damage to the plane, major to the coyote. That pilot got a lot of flack, and I always called him the “Coyote Killer” jokingly. Scotty knows them even better, hope to hear from you guys again in your next job. Say hi to Scotty or FO. Continue reading

LITH009: Skittish Skylanes and working around emergencies

182’s ALL IN A ROW Had me a string of eastbound 182’s today. First one chose wisely and picked Alamosa, CO as his destination. There was a large line of thunderstorms from Denver south with Center Weather Advisories (CWA’s) and Convective Sigmets. The second one was going from Kingman, AZ to Jeffco Airport in the Denver area. After quite a few calls back and forth, he left for the next frequency and then he changed his destination to Alamosa as well. The next one sat out all the bad weather in Farmington, NM. She was going from Carlsbad, CA to Colorado Springs, CO. We spoke at great length about GPS’s and the weather. She’s a CFI in Carlsbad, very friendly. Continue reading

LITH007: High fuel prices and swearing in junior controllers

FUEL FOR THOUGHT The topic of aviation fuel came up on frequency Sunday, and of course it turned into a mini free-for-all. A Baron going from Las Vegas to Denver Centennial was going to make a stop in Farmington for gas. I warned him of their high prices but he felt their price compared to the $3+ Las Vegas charged was acceptable. A Stationair chimed in and said he paid $2.96 in Hawthorne, NV and it was self-serve! That’s pretty atrocious. Continue reading

LITH005: Pilot Getaways, odd requests, boneheads, MTR’s, and messing with trainees

PILOTS, GO AWAY! Actually, the magazine I’ll refer to is “Pilot Getaways”. This is another fine publication I receive, and sometimes they show real out of the way places, some not even on charts. Well, sure enough I had someone head for Goulding’s Lodge, a fairly remote dirt strip near Navajo Mountain on the Utah/Arizona border. I had to ask if he’d heard about it through the magazine. Sure enough he did. He had flown over the spot before, but hadn’t landed (one way in, one way out, huge mountain in the way), this time he would. Since then I’ve talked to a few pilots about destinations in that magazine, more people get it than I thought. One was surprised we could read! Continue reading

LITH004: Making the big time, bad landings, colorful language, and mind reading

HOLE REGULARS MAKE THE BIG TIME Mesa Airlines Pilot Development (MAPD) program is based at Farmington, we work their Bonanzas and Barons constantly. In the latest issue of Plane&Pilot Magazine lo’ and behold there’s a color picture of one of the planes we work. Keep in mind, all we see are little green slashes for an airplane, for an airplane buff like me it’s kind of cool to actually see what we work. I’ve been razzing the pilots of these planes lately over their new celebrity status. Of course when I do others on freq jump right in. Continue reading

LITH001: Welcome to Life In The Hole

BACKGROUND “The Hole” is an area of my Air Traffic Contol facility. Its a sector that is usually the only one open, in a dark, cool, empty space, hence the name. I work this sector quite a bit and a day doesn’t go by that something funny or interesting doesn’t happen. I plan to use this blog to document some of these stories, I hope you find it interesting.

GOAL To enlighten, educate, and entertain on the interesting world of Air Traffic Control through one persons eyes. Continue reading