Miles City Air travel
Posted by BLT (+92) 13 years ago
Anyone travel out of Miles City to Denver yet? If so how was it?
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 13 years ago
I haven't, but I did fly from Billings to Denver via Sheridan once on Big Sky Airlines and I'd have to say that it wasn't exactly the same experience as flying on a 737 or even a Dash 8. I made it and didn't manage to rip either armrest off of the seat but judging from the apparent stress level of the other passengers (much lower than mine), I'd say you get used to it after a few trips .
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Posted by M T Zook (+515) 13 years ago
I am really excited about the service. As a guy that has flown both the 737 and the Dash 8, the Beech 1900 doesn't scare me. Remember, people pay to get scared at Disney, the airlines includes the thrills with the ticket price. (If they could figure out a way to charge for it, I am sure they would...) I am not excited about flying to Chadron, NE first, but still having a link out of Miles City to Denver will be priceless to my family. From door to door Houston to Miles City was about 10 hours on a good day. This will shave 2 or 3 hours off as long as the connections are good. It will mean more time in MT, less time and money traveling. Less stress, and probably an additional trip per year.

We plan on coming up mid-December and will give a report then.
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Posted by Bob L. (+5095) 13 years ago
I'm out of the loop - who is providing MC to Denver service?
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 13 years ago
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 13 years ago
One thing that is kind of nice about it if you can handle the bumps, is that there's only one seat on each side of the aisle, so you don't have to snuggle up with any fat guys or fight anyone for the arm rest. Despite my significant nervousness I would definitely use them if I needed to go to Denver over driving to Billings if the price was competitive at all (and it looks like it is).
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Posted by Bob L. (+5095) 13 years ago
Ooooh. Great Lakes.
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Posted by M T Zook (+515) 13 years ago
Just be sure to USE THE BATHROOM before you go. No lavatories on the 1900. Prices seem reasonable, like 115 one way, but when you consider the price of gas, hotel, rental cars ect, it isn't too bad in the big scheme of things.
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Posted by Bob L. (+5095) 13 years ago
Levi:

Nervous flyer?

I used to travel with a guy who was an old AF maintenance officer. He'd drink two or three shots in the bar before each flight and mutter "redundant systems...redundant systems...redundant systems" to himself repeatedly during takeoff.

Good times.
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+9919) 13 years ago
Is the Beechcraft 1900 what they are using for the Miles to Denver run? I've not rode one, but it sounds comparable to the Fairchild Metroliner III.

The work horse here for the Anchorage-King Salmon route is the SAAB 340. It's not a bad ride. They haul a lot of cargo, so it's configured with one row of seats on the left and two on the right.

The airport here is a regional hub that serves the remote villages. So depending on where you're headed from here (and the time of year) you might end up flying just about anything. PenAir is the main regional carrier here. In addition to the SAAB 340s, they fly the: Fairchild Metroliner III, Navajo Chieftain PA-31-35s, Piper Saratoga. Grand Caravan, and Piper T-1040.

But you know that you are really going places, when you book a seat on this baby - the ol' Grumman Goose G21-A.
http://www.penair.com/ima..._large.jpg
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Posted by TK (+1623) 13 years ago
I don't know.....the price of gas is starting to look REAL nice! (Though it can come down more!)
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 13 years ago
Levi:

Nervous flyer?


Not really. I have flown on big air liners dozens of times and it doesn't bother me at all. It's just that this particular ride was about 20x worse turbulence wise than any flight I'd been on before. At one point a book that was sitting on my lap actually jumped up in the air to nearly eye level because we dropped so fast. Maybe that's typical for these planes...the other passengers that took that flight regularly seemed to think so, but it was not like anything I had experienced before hehe. If I had been expecting that kind of thing it probably wouldn't have been too bad.
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Posted by M T Zook (+515) 13 years ago
Big Sky used to fly the Metro III, referred to as the San Antonio Sewer Pipe. It carried 14 passengers, I believe, and I rode on it once. It was a rough ride over the mountains at 20,000 feet. Just a fact of mountain flying in light aircraft. Not unsafe, but a little uncomfortable and a little disconcerting to some.

Before it went out of business, they upgraded to the 1900. About the only difference is more seats and slightly less noisy engines.

The 1900 is a good plane and Lakes has a better route structure than just to Billings. Lets face it, most people went to Billings just to connect to Salt Lake, Denver or Seattle. I do understand that it will be more difficult to move around MT, but the ridership on the intrastate routes had to be low. Not enough to justify the cost of the fuel.

As far as the Goose in AK goes, I would love to go for a ride on that thing, what a flying piece of history.
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Posted by Jon Boe (+156) 13 years ago
It's all relative. Here in Colorado they used to fly the Dash 8 into the mountain resort areas... nickname.. the vomit comet. The Dash 8 is a larger turboprop that has probably 2-3 times the gross weight of the Beech.

Weather really does play a big role in the turbulance factor. I've flown single engine Cessna's between Denver and MC with no problem. I've also flown it with solid cloud, ice, and a prayer... a lot of prayer from my wife. (Which is why this penguin now flies a Boeing 747 simulator in his basement)

Cheers,

Jon
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+9919) 13 years ago
I heard on the news last summer that a company down in the Carolinas had acquired the rights to the Goose and were going to start manufacturing them again.

PenAir has a couple Gooses in service (one might be out of service right now - I heard they broke it). I think they mostly use them on routes down in the Aleutians.

I don't mind the Metro III, but I prefer the SAAB as it's a little roomier. When the weather is nasty it really doesn't make a lot of difference which one you're on. When I fly and the weather is iffy, I always remind myself of that old joke:

Passenger: How far will this plane get us?
Pilot: All the way to the scene of the crash.
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Posted by M T Zook (+515) 13 years ago
No matter the size of the aircraft, mountain turbulence affects all planes at almost all altitudes. Relatively speaking, there is not a lot of difference between a Dash 8, Metro, 1900, Cheyenne, or Saab. Still, the smaller the size, the lower the altitude, generally the worse the ride is.

Private planes have the luxury of going when they want. Front coming across the Rockies? Wait a day and go in the smooth clear. Airlines strive to maintain a schedule and there are few exceptions weatherwise that prohibit flights. Thus, sometimes you are gonna have a rough ride. Trust me, the pilots enjoy it less than you do.
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Posted by Jon Boe (+156) 13 years ago
True... if only forecasts were perfect. Accrding to the FAR's flight into known icing conditions is prohibited unless your aircraft is equipped for it. It's the unknown conditions that cause the problems. Since I happened to be flying a high performance airplane, recognized the situation, and acted accordingly, there was no problem (except my wife's refusal to ever fly in any airplane, anywhere, again).

Don't get me wrong, forecasts are generally pretty good. When they aren't, the "Vomit Comet" tells the passengers, buckle your seatbelts tightly, we are in for a rough ride. As you said, the commercial flights have to fly unless things are really bad.

Speaking of bad....

I remember when I was doing initial flight training with "Ship" back in Miles City. He used to fly for NWA way back when in the old DC3's. Cancelled a flight once which sent the passengers to a hotel for the night due to weather. Today, the pilot would be reprimanded, the passengers would be left at the airport to fend for themselves, etc. Back in the 40's, RD was congratulated by the chief pilot for making the correct decision.

But even as late as the late 60's DC3's were flown into Miles City.

Jon
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Posted by M T Zook (+515) 13 years ago
I have a hard time with "known" icing conditions. Just because it isn't reported doesn't mean it isn't known. I have a firm belief stemming from intense instructors and meteorology classes that has kept me from "sticky" situations. I feel that too many GA pilots are overextending themselves based on faith that their aircraft will keep them okay. But everybody gets caught in one fashion or another, and I understand that.

Today's airlines are different and technology has vastly improved making the frequency of weather cancelations few. That statement based on the weather at the destination and not regarding the flow of traffic at a major airport.

I am having a hard time trying not to drift the thread. Final answer is if I have a choice, I will take a bumpy flight operated by professional pilots in the 1900 to Denver any day before I had to drive.
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Posted by MollieP (+136) 13 years ago
The only time I ever flew Big "Scare" I thought it was wonderful! We hopped our way all the way to Spokane....and the view was incredible.
Something new I learned about the new service is they now have TSA security in Miles City, so you don't have to go through security again when you get to the bigger cities..really a bonus.
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1893) 13 years ago
Sparrow Aviation Administrator blames collision on failure to detect pane of glass.

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Posted by James (+94) 13 years ago
You have a problem with fat guys? (LEVI)

[This message has been edited by James (edited 11/16/2008).]
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Posted by Jim B (+232) 13 years ago
Tried Orbits, Travalosity, etc.
www.cheaptickets.com seems to be the only one I found where
for fun I book a flight from Miles City (MLS) to places I would
like to fly too. WARNING. When you do this make sure you are
at least a minimum 30 days from when you would go. Prices before
that are really high.
Take into account:
Drive to Billings, Gas, Hotel, parking, and it makes Great Lakes
look pretty reasonalble.
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 13 years ago
You have a problem with fat guys? (LEVI)

Haha, nope. I kind of more than fill an airline seat myself. But fat people dislike sitting next to fat people on airplanes even more than skinny people .
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Posted by James (+94) 13 years ago
LOL....we tip the plane.....
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Posted by Chuck Schott (+1284) 13 years ago
I flew into Miles City once from Denver back in the mid "70's" with a stop in Jackson Hole Wyoming (I think). As I remember it was as scary an experience as I have ever had sober. I don't know what the plane was but I know it was Frontier Air lines and the plane had props. To this day I swear we landed at Jackson Hole (or where ever) and the plane started sliding sideways about half way through the landing on the December ice before the pilot straightened it out. I only drove home for Christmas after that.
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Posted by Carl Wenberg (+51) 13 years ago
Circa 1961 Flew Twin Beech Craft on Frontier Airlines to Billings, also flew in out of MC on a Air Force L 20 our pilots would get there required flight time, we were at the Radar Staion outside of town, also flew the L20 in and out of small strip out at the Radar Base a thrill to say the least
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Posted by cori schock (+185) 13 years ago
In the early 70's, I think Frontier flew a Convair turbo prop. I could be wrong, but I think it was a 580???? In the late 70's they switched to the Twin Otter....it was a much smoother ride and a heck of a lot quieter.
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Posted by M T Zook (+515) 12 years ago
My family and I recently had the chance to ride the the new air service to and from Miles City on Great Lakes. It was interesting, to say the least, but still better than nuthin'!

We flew into Denver last Thursday with plans to connect to the 12:30 pm departure to Miles City. I think that flight is via Chadron, NE. Got to the gate, checked in and were waiting around when the gate agent approached us and advised us that the flight into Miles City had been canceled, or more specifically, "overflown." They said the weather was too poor in MC.

I looked into it a bit as to why it was "overflown" but honestly have not called the airport to ask further questions. I can come up with a few theories, braking action on the runway, icing in the area, or icing on the ground with no de-ice/anti-ice facilities available. Another theory is the revenue simply wasn't there and they decided it wasn't worth it.

We were told we would be put on the 5:30 pm flight, which was already behind by 2 hours, getting us to Miles around 10 pm. Having some flexability in our plans, we boarded a Frontier Lynx Dash-8 Q400 and rode that to Billings where Dad picked us up. We were in Miles by 7 p.m. on good roads.

We flew out yesterday morning on the 5:05 am flight. There were 4 other passengers on the flight. TSA has security in Miles, so you don't have to re-clear in DEN. We blasted off on a 20 minute flight into Gillette, and my little boy got sick at the end. A little warm and a little squirrelly in the back for his tummy. 15 minutes on the ground and off to Denver, scheduled 1 hour leg. All things told, we got to Denver early, parking at 7 a.m. A pleasant flight.

I wish there was a vending machine on the secure side of security. It is tough to go 2 or 2.5 hours that early in the morning with nothing to eat or drink. Also, the 1900 has no bathroom, so you have to watch your personal consumption. (You wouldn't believe the horror/humor stories I have heard from old 1900 pilots.) I am not sure if they would have let you off in Gillette to use the bathroom, but I would guess they would.

We would do it again. All of the people at Great Lakes were very nice and accommodating. It was a little bothersome to have the flight canceled, but the old saying is, "Time to spare, go by air."

[This message has been edited by M T Zook (edited 1/14/2009).]
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14950) 12 years ago
I wished I had known that. My office is about 200 yards from the terminal in Gillette. The way the vending machines at GCC are setup is a real joke. They get an additional $2.00 for a bottle of water on the secure side of the glass box. You could have gotten off the plane to use the restroom but you would have to go back through security.

Good thing you flew yesterday. Today we have snow, very low ceilings, and icing conditions. Definitely IFR weather.

[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 1/14/2009).]
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Posted by poisonspaghetti (+281) 12 years ago
After reading these posts, none of you are inspiring much confidence in Miles City's latest version of puddle-jumper air service. Sounds like the two hour drive to Billings to get on a bigger plane would be worth it. My last (and I mean, LAST) experience with a flight to Miles City was on Big Scare - the plane hit an air pocket and suddenly dropped sharply - there was a collective gasp and all kinds of alarms went off, just in case we passengers didn't realize this was not a good thing to have happen. P.S. - the pilot looked like he was almost old enough to drive.
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Posted by M T Zook (+515) 12 years ago
I guess I meant the vending in Miles City, but ANYTHING would be better than what I saw.

As far as young pilots go... Well, I understand that perspective to a point. Bottom line is when computers fail, and they do, who do you want to be around to fix them? A young guy or an grumpy old pilot, male or female, who has a hard time with technology? There are some tradeoffs with experience and technology, but the bottom line is the pilots have a vested interest in the safe outcome of the flight. Being in the pointy end assures them a view to the accident. They want that less than you do.

Bumpy flights happen all the time, all over the world. I was in the back of a giant plane just tonight, and we hit an "airpocket" and dropped a bit. As I stated earlier, smaller planes are a bit more susceptible to turbulence, but a larger ride is no guarentee. I like smaller planes in the fact that it takes much less time to board and de-plane. I HATE sitting in the back of a plane for 20 minutes after we park at the gate and much prefer to just walk right off a smaller plane.

I still would rather take Great Lakes than drive to Billings and still have to fly 2 hours.
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Posted by Bill Zook (+497) 12 years ago
I don't think you can avoid being jostled by "air pockets" when flying in any plane. You may feel safer in a larger airplane but it still is vulnerable to such. I recall a flight from SLC on Delta that was pretty memorable. A little boy from England was seated beside me and reportedly had experienced nausea while landing in KC. Fearing he might feel the same on this trip as we encountered a storm front while crossing the Beartooths, I encouraged him to pretend it was like a carnival ride. We enjoyed the experience and he made the trip without a problem. We were shaken about like nothing I'd experienced before but landed safely. Another point for the quality of pilots flying today.
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Posted by Cathy Gamrath (+13) 12 years ago
We flew out of Miles in Dec. on the early flight. It was snowing and blowing, about one above. The plane took off on schedule with only 3 passengers. It was freezing cold, the plane sits out all night and wasn't warmed up first. We bounced a bit before we got to Gillette,(incidentally, they do let you use the restroom if necessary) where the weather was even worse. We got a bit behind because they de-iced the plane. It filled up with passengers and off we went again. Once we got above the clouds we had a smooth ride to Denver, then bounced our way down. (It was not as bad as our connecting United flight, a larger plane) The return trip was better as the weather was clear (And the plane was warm!)
It was generally a satisfactory experience. I wouldn't have wanted to be trying to drive it on the day we left. We are fortunate that Gillette is making up the difference for us, even with the subsidy, they can't be making anything off flying to Miles City. People complain that they want to go to Billings. Why? You can make much better and cheaper connections out of Denver than Billings.
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