Foothill and Mountain Flying, Part 1

In autumn, the mountains beckon. The air is cool, the leaves are radiant, and the vistas are splendid.

In order to fly the mountains safely both training and extensive preparation are required. We would suggest, ideally, a mountain flying clinic – one that consists of ground school as well as actual flight instruction. Additional reading from the numerous books and guides that are available would also be helpful. Before enrolling in a mountain flying clinic you can prepare by practicing and becoming proficient in slow flight, flying by floating compass rather than nav-aids, and short-field, upwind, downwind and crosswind landings and takeoffs. Acquire the ability to land within 50 feet of your target every time. Weather Items to consider: HAVE A FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE. Weather in the mountains changes more rapidly than down here in the flatlands. Mornings and late afternoon when temperatures are below 70 degrees and there is no visible moisture usually provide the most stable conditions. During the middle of the day when the temperature begins to rise, and the wind starts to blow, bringing with it moist unstable air creating unpredictable air currents.

Airport considerations: In some areas nav-aids may be non existent or hard to pick up. GPS signals may be available but point to point and airport to airport straight line tracks frequently do not work safely in the mountains. Often there are trees at one or both ends of runways. Significant slope – six degrees or more – is more likely on mountain runways. These variables can combine to create optical illusions which may well be unfamiliar.

Reference: FAA Aviation Sept. 2001

Will Rogers – “There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.”

Foothill and Mountain Flying, Part 2
Foothill and Mountain Flying, Part 3

These safety tips are provided by the WCFC Safety Committee. They are intended to stimulate thought and discussion about flight safety and do not necessarily represent club policy nor are they intended to replace instruction from a qualified instructor.