Colorado Flying


Well-Known Member
I am wondering how flying around in Colorado is in a piston engine airplane? Any pilots based out of Denver, how is the flying there and what are some of the good places to rent from?

Any information on mountain flying and the Denver area would be great.

I've been flying here (denver) for about a year now, and it's pretty great! Couple of things to keep in mind...especially as summer draws near:
1. Density Altitude! Two full grown males in a 152 can't get off the ground on a hot summer day
2. Afternoon storms...count on them more days than not during the summer from about 2:00PM-6:00PM

Most clubs or rentals will require a mountain course/checkout before you're allowed to take a plane to a mountain airport...and they usually have a minimum type of plane that they allow you to take.

The views are pretty incredible here...and it's pretty easy to tell where you are for the most part...mountains on the left...heading north...on the right...going south.
The other big advantage to flying along the front range is that there is almost no shortage of emergency landing strips...east of the mountains is pretty much one big flat runway!

I fly out of Jeffco...but my club just had most of its aircraft moved to another flight training center at Jeffco. The prices were pretty reasonable, but they don't really have any planes left anymore. I don't know what the new outfit has for prices yet. I like Jeffco because it is controlled and busy enough to keep things interesting, but you don't spend as much time waiting to take off/land with the meter running as you would at Centennial.

Let me know if you want more info...

thanks for the quick reply. I know west of Denver is all mountains, do you ever make the flight over the mountains? If you haven't, have you talked to any pilots that have made a big trip out west(lets say to Vegas)?

I also think Denver would be a great area to live in and finish up my training(IR, Com, CFI). I am sick of ND and the weather. Yes, I know the weather in Denver can get bad, but the average highs in Denver during the winter is 20-30 degrees warmer than it is here. I can handle that with no problem, plus I love to ski/snowboard.
Wind!!! darn wind... then there was a blizzard that left 4 feet of snow everywhere. Then more wind.

Wind has cxld about half of my lessons since i started last month. I am finally up to about 5 hours though. I'm scheduled 3x a week now though so hopefully i get a move on finally. I am flying out of BJC also and so far I love it. Still gotta get the stomach used to it but its a blast.

Im new but BJC is pretty intimitading. There are about 20 huge windmills located about 4 miles from the end of the RW at the wind farm. This is where the National Wind Technology center is located. The way i figure it, if you can fly our of BJC you should be able to fly pretty much anywhere right?
I currently fly out of Fort Collins, which is about 60 miles north of Denver, but I'm origionally from the Denver area and started my training there. I flew out of Centennial with Wings of Denver ( and found them to be pretty decent. Their prices are reasonable ($70-77/hr for a 172), and I still fly to APA quite a bit. Overall, the state's not a bad place to fly at all, but the high density altitudes and resulting decreases in aircraft performance during the summer can be very annoying. The Bravo airspace around Denver can be pretty busy, since Denver is basically the only major city within a 380 mile radius.

The cost of living in Denver is pretty high, so it might be tough on a CFI's salary. But if you can get around that, there's plenty of opportunities to instruct from what I've seen.
well i am flying mostly older 172s, late 70s early 80s, and they run $74/hr. I am also mixing in a new one every now and then and those run $93/hr. instructors are $35/hr. plus they charge another $3 for insurance. Its about avg priced for the area from what i found when i did my look around. Mcair has like 10 new 172s and 4 old ones. plus other stuff i have no business getting into right now. I do think the MX is superb though as im told they use Windsong which is a flt school next door.

I fly out of McAir and looked at a few other schools there. I also looked at Air West which was cheaper (not much) but they only had older planes and some had flat tires/parts missing when i went to check them out. I was impressed with one of the instructors but the guy that runs the school makes all his instructors wear ties and i just wasnt as impressed. I felt like they were sorta putting lipstick on a pig kinda thing. That was just my view though, they may be good, i didnt look much deeper. Another school "windsong" seemed really good but they were also alot more expensive. All new planes and they were like $120/hr for a 172. other than the price they seemed great.

In all i just felt like McAir was the best choice for me and i still feel that way a month later. My instructor is new but we get along great, he's doing an outstanding job and its been fun so far.

check em out

Thanks guys! Tim, I checked out their website before you had put your link up and I found it to be a professional website (might be a sign of how things are around there). But all in all, seemed to be ok from what I read, but I would have to get a look at the school in person.

Thanks for the help and if anyone has anything else to say go right ahead.
hey ruppert,
well I live in Iowa but in the summer I generally spend about a month in the denver area. This past summer I rented out of BJC and 1V5 (boulder). I liked the different type of planes that I rented out of a place called flatirons there. It was the cheapest but probably not the best mantained. I talked to a guy there and he wasnt even sure if they were going to be around much longer. But if you plan on going up to the mountains make sure to do it early cause the mountain turbulence can get nasty later day plus big thunderheads. I rented a cherokee and took it up into the mounatins and it does take some skill even with only two people in a 180hp plane. I would say thatd be the bare minimum to take up there. Also be careful at night. I got caught between a squall line and the mountains coming back from cheyenne CYS (GREAT airport restuarant) and I was lucky I had my dad with me who is also a pilot because he knew the highways better than me and the denver (or whatever it was) weather watcher tried to kill us. They also had a commache 250 which I took up to leadville colorado later in the week and that plane is a mountain BEAST. I highly recomend the leadville trip (awesome views and they give you a cool corny cancel IFR or flight following with denver when you have the chance because you WILL lose radio contact in the mountains). Boulder also has a really neat final approach over the town and over a lake right before the touchdown area. I flew an arrow out there a couple months ago and kept it at erie 48V and they are great. The people are SUPER helpful, cheaper gas, and they didnt even charge me for a week of tie down. Also I have looked over and flown out of every airport in that 50 mile denver radius and they have by FAR the nicest mantained planes. And you dont have to wait #3 in line to depart like jeffco or centenial. FUn place to fly and not overly restrictive of the downtown.
I also fly at Mcairaviation at Jeffco(BJC). After about 2 months of researching and visiting schools in the area I decided to attend Mcair. The prices are a bit on the high end but you get what you pay for. The cost of training is generally more expensive in Colorado.

They have about 26 aircraft the largest fleet you will find almost anywhere for an FBO. 12 of those aircraft are next generation cessna 172s. Most with moving map GPS. ($93/hr wet)

The instructors hands down are just great people and strive to make you a proficient pilot instead of just caring about building hours.

The school in general is very well organized and maintaned. All aircraft are inspected every 50 hrs rather than every 100 hrs as per FAR. You cant beat the online schedule its great.

The airport is a great place to train(class D). It can get extremely busy at times which will sharpen your skills. "Caution wake turbulence " will keep you on your toes and is also great practice.
And of course the scenery is beautiful, you cant beat the mtns.

As far as mountain flying, you will probably want to get a mountain rating before attempting to fly into the mountains. Unless you plan on flying at about 16000 to 17000 ft msl and even then the drafts can be very suprising.

I hope this helps you out and maybe some day I will see you at Mcair. Tim Buff I will probably see you there sometime, who is your instructor? Feike is my instructor.

I totally agree with the quality of the Cheyenne restaraunt! CYS is a great destination for a x-country from most places in the Denver area. The FBO has a car you can use and there is a super cool store called Seirra Trading Post in town that has incredible discounts on outdoor gear like tents, sleeping bags, etc.

Definitely try to fly early in the day...I spent an unplanned night in Cheyenne because 4-5 cells closed in quickly between Cheyenne and Denver while I was out shopping!

I flew at Airwest, and had a great instructor, and never had any problems with any of the equipment. The prices were reasonable for the area ($51 for 152, $65 for 172 + club fee) My instructor now trains at Dakota Ridge in Boulder, and although they are pretty would be worth it to fly with Ed Mitchell.
I'd really like to instruct at McAir or someplace at Jeffco when I eventually get to that point. Do you know if they prefer to hire their own CFI graduates or will they take resumes from anywhere?
Mcair hires instructors other than the ones that trained there. My instructor trained at ATP in CA and landed a job at Mcair. I would love to instruct for them as well. You get an office, the aircraft are really nice, and the instructors are on staff rather than contract.
I would look into it if I were you. The Chief instructor is Chad Cown he is a really cool guy. Go to
I think a lot of the instructors there come from places other than Mcair.
--For lruppert- who is the girl?--


Troy is my CFI... I just got back from flying actually and got my first taste of life under the hood. Man, that first turn was bad but after that I did great. Its such an uneasy feeling when your body is telling you that you are S&L but your instruments are saying you are banking. Pretty cool to finally experience this after reading about it for years.

Other than that the wx was pretty good. winds only at 11kts right down the pipe. best day wx day ive had so far.

Still gotta get the stomach used to this. seems like i hit the 1 hour mark and thats when I can feel the stomach start to turn a bit.

"ummmm, lets make this a full stop"