Continuing our journey westbound and fighting an ever increasing wind and turbulence we climbed up to FL260. From Winnipeg we were cleared straight across the whole prairies to an intersection called DARKE for the Alomo arrival into Calgary (brings you in from the east north east). As we were about to descend WestJet started his decent from FL400 a bit earlier and was going to pass us overhead. It's always neat to see other aircraft fairly close in flight, and to see how much he makes us look like we are standing still... We are headed to the mothership to exchange planes and continue our journey the next morning.
Off in the distance is Nose Hill. Its a great spot for an easy hike and it covers a large area considering its right in the city. We are landing on runway 25 which makes for a short taxi to the barn. On the other hand if you land 34 and use it all up its about a 2.25 mile taxi back. Calgary sits at 3550 feet above sea level and there was lots of space available so runway 34/16 is 12,675 feet long.
For most people, waking up to this would be a nuisance but I don't think things could get much better. Here is Canadian Regional...oops I mean Jazz's Dash 8-300 departing off 16 right out my window. This actual airplane came in with an engine failure when I was working in Kelowna and sat on the ramp for a few days while mechanics removed and installed the new one. In Kelowna I saw 3 Dash 8's come in with an engine feathered. Seeing as they are highly reliable turbine engines maybe I should sweat more on take off and landing with my highly reliable single engine out front :)
Panning left and below the Jazz Dash 8 are the Rockie Mountains off in the distance. Those mountains are just under an hour drive west of Calgary. Its amazing when driving into the city from the flat lands how far back you can see these things. It is an amazing morning for flying and I am looking forward to getting up and away into the smooth air.
Downtown Calgary as the sun rises. My last visit here I had more time to visit friends but this was a 14 hour turn around so no time for that. The traffic in Calgary has gone insane in the past 5 years. I heard on the news that each week for the past 3-4 years 110 new vehicles enter the highways here because of all the migration. Also Calgary does not have a by pass to get to Banff and the one main street across town takes as long to get across as it does to drive to BC. Hopefully with all their oil money they will start to get this moving......
6 minutes of flight and I am ever closer to the Rockies. Here is Springbank Airport located just to the west of Calgary. I did some circuits here in a 172 back in 1998-2000 so how fitting that a 172 taxis by as I click for the picture. This aircraft is one in the fleet with new paint. Ours has the white wing and belly but since the engine spews out oily smoke all over it gets dirty and stained awfully quick. So they came up with this paint scheme which is much much better. We ended up flying about 15 hours without a wash and you can't even tell the difference. Also due to slipstream the right side always gets way dirtier.
Chinook Arch... Chinook means "snow eater" in some native language and is the same type of lee wind caused by mountain ranges in other parts of the world. Basically as air loses its moisture on the west side of the mountains it dries out and when it comes over to the lee side descends and heats up and "eats" up snow in its path. I should have clued in that although beautiful caused some pretty good bumps on the climb out.
Airborne off Springbank we got cleared direct to Scottsdale...coming from the east the land of preffered IFR routes and flying your flight planned route to the bitter end I am almost shocked to hear it. It's amazing how much less traffic is out this way. I believe we are about ten thousand feet here in the climb. A company aircraft departed Calgary International and we paralleled them for a bit but they quickly climbed to FL400 and left us in the dust. We could see their contrail begin and then trail off on the horizon, pretty cool but the camera couldn't focus that far away so no pictures. Next up is warmer climes, cactus and the Grand Canyon.