Chart Wise: Training and Technique

Examining the Butte VOR-A approach to Mooney Airport.

Butte, Montana, and its Bert Mooney Airport (BTM) are nestled snuggly between the Yellowstone and Glacier national parks in the southwestern portion of the state, where copper mining was once the primary economic driver. The Butte VOR-A approach to Mooney Airport seems pretty straightforward, but remember, of course, that any approach without a runway number indicates the final approach course does not technically meet the definition of a straight-in. The VOR-A’s R098 final approach course is pretty close, and should, under no-wind conditions, offer a glimpse of Runway 12 out the left front cockpit window if the weather permits.

Bert Mooney Airport’s field elevation is 5,551 feet, with terrain rising another 3,000 feet just east, adding a few challenges during the approach. The right turn during the missed approach demands pilots keep a close eye on their climb rate since just west of BTM the terrain is already 1,000 feet higher. Additional nearby obstacles are why the minimums for all categories of aircraft are 7,120 feet msl.

(Scroll over the numbers on the interactive graphic for corresponding text.)