I am hoping to visit friends in Sion LSGS this June
I wonder whether those who’ve flown there can indicate how challenging it is and what preparation is needed for flying in those valleys – I haven’t done any mountain course or similar. If too challenging (or non-VFR conditions) I’d consider Lausanne LSGL and rent a car instead.
Also – immigration: I’d be arriving from Auch LFDH in France – will I need to stop over in a French port-of-exit? Any recommendations from local knowledge?
Thanks for any advice :)
Yes, you need a customs aerodrome on the French side beforer flying to Switzerland. Note that the list of these is not 100% identical to that of aerodromes designated as border crossing points. Annemasse is one of those which vould be suitable (needs PN though).
On Sion and the Rhone Valley: not too difficult if you just fly in coming from Lac Leman and stay in the valley. Just make sure the weather is decent (cloudcover/base, vis and wind speed) in the valley, The runway is long.
Hi @NealCS see this post with pictures of a flight into Sion so you know what to expect:
It’s not difficult but you will be surrounded by mountains, which is a bit intimidating if you’re not used to it.
As Bosco already said: Only go if the weather is nice.
And make sure you have sufficient altitude before entering a valley. So if the minimum altitude for a pass is 8300ft, be sure to climb to at least that altitude before entering the valley. I’m specifically underlining this because last year a fellow forum member seem to have made this mistake in that area.
Yes, but I intentionally omitted this last bit, because, in this context, if you fly from Lac Leman to Sion (and back), there will be no pass whatsoever to be crossed. You will be flying in the Rhone valley from start to finish…not at all comparable to the flight of jgmusic.
Neal, yes the valley is wide and you have plenty of room to turn around.
Have a look at the visual approach chart to see the circuit.
On downwind you will be flying close to terrain. That is how it should be…
Thanks @lenthamen I have flown close above the shoulder of the alps and been close to terrain downwind at Elba, San Sebastián and Calvi and all stick in the mind as places I was assessing my escape options but felt perfectly comfortable. Your intervention about passes is appreciated as I ask the question because I really don’t like the idea of getting myself into something I can’t get out of!
(I flew commercially into Paro, Bhutan and that was certainly not for the faint hearted; wingtips were virtually trimming the trees.)
Here is a view of LSGS from a vantage point near Lac de Tracouet (September 2019). As you see, the valley is quite wide indeed. LSGS is also a base of Swiss Air Force, so there are F-18 and F-5 flying there.