Mountain Flying Basics: Guidelines For Flying Over Mountains – Flying Mag

Flying within the mountains need now not be dangerous if some easy mountain flying tips are followed. The difficulty isn’t the mountains consistent with se, however the reduced electricity available to aircraft flying at high altitudes, flying in constrained spaces, and flying low to the ground.  It’s no wonder that the venerable Super Cub, with its fats wings and capacity to fly at very slow speeds and still be well above the stall, became the necessary mountain flying aircraft.  (Along now with the Husky and Scout).  So here are a few of my mountain flying tips for being safe within the mountains.


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Remember, your aircraft desires a minimum quantity of energy, call it airspeed, to generate the carry essential to fly.  If you’ve got an excessive amount of airspeed, you can begin to tug parts off your aircraft because you have passed its structural limits. This defines your plane’s flight envelope, (minimal electricity to fly and maximum strength that doesn’t exceed the structural electricity of the aircraft), and so long as you live in the flight envelope the entirety the aircraft does it turned into designed to do.  Also do not forget, you have the kinetic electricity of pace and the ability electricity of altitude (at the side of gas to your tanks).  You can constantly trade one for the opposite.  Just ask an aerobatic or glider pilot how they fly!Join the Dawn Patrol

You have all seen the weather.  When is it normally most calm?  The solution, in the beginning light.  The air is cooler (greater electricity), with little or no turbulence and not plenty wind.  The perfect time for your mountain flight.  Avoid flying later within the day if you can, and specifically keep away from flying whilst the winds aloft exceed 15 – 20 knots.  The venturi impact and katabatic winds may be deadly.  Also, keep away from flying immediately into the sun because of visibility troubles. Pick your date and time cautiously.  Never Fly Past the Point of No Return

This is perhaps the single most critical tip for flying in the mountains:  Never, ever, ever fly beyond the factor of no return.  So, what does that mean? Never placed yourself in a state of affairs in which you cannot make a a hundred and eighty-degree (engine out at satisfactory glide velocity) turn and pass downhill toward lower terrain.   If you can not optimistically do this, you’ve got gone beyond your point of no return. 

This tip just takes a chunk more recognition of your state of affairs than in normal “flatland” flying.  Let’s assume you’re flying up a mountain valley (I realize what you’re gonna say, don’t do this, however give me a minute).  As you fly uphill, the valley terrain commonly constricts, the elevation increases, your airspeed pace may also lower and your turn radius will in all likelihood boom, now not an amazing situation. So, to borrow from math, our first corollary is to avoid flying up a valley in the first place.  Rather, try to begin high and fly down the valley instead.  But now and again that isn’t lots a laugh, so let’s hold.How Much Altitude Will My Airplane Lose?

When I conduct mountain flying education, I will advantage altitude (masses of altitude), have the scholar reduce the throttle to idle, and flip a hundred and eighty levels.  How lots altitude did you lose?  Better yet, lessen the throttle, be counted to four (a median of the way long it is able to take you to apprehend a hassle inside the first area), and flip a hundred and eighty ranges.  Again, how plenty altitude did you lose?  Add a “fudge” component to be even safer.   If, for example, you understand you will lose one thousand toes, and you are handiest 500 toes above the floor, you’re in massive trouble.  I do a comparable exercise to demonstrate the futility of attempting to turn returned to a runway after a electricity failure on takeoff.  Only in this case, after your 180-diploma turn, you still want to make 2 additional 45-diploma turns to get you returned to the runway.  Not gonna manifest.What Should I Do To Gain Altitude in My Airplane?

So now you understand how a great deal altitude you want to turn at your factor of no go back, what can I do?  Again, a simple answer. Spiral. You can do a climbing spiral or a descending spiral.  So while you are determining your altitude loss, exercise spiraling up and down. Remember to use your rudders and lots of trim.  As I am flying and start to question my aircraft’s capability to outclimb the terrain, I’ll “forestall,” don’t retain flying up the valley, and spiral up maybe gaining an extra 1000 feet in elevation, then hold.  It’s that easy. (For an skilled mountain pilot or glider pilot, look for thermals!) I might also do this numerous times in the course of my flight.  This is the primary technique I use to enable me to fly down the valleys inside the first location. I spiral up, then fly downhill.  If you want to land at a mountain airport that is commonly at the bottom of the ridges, I spiral down to lose altitude, then set myself up for a touchdown.  Spiraling directly above the airport can be effective in that it commonly gives the most vertical separation between aircraft on the airport and gives you a risk to “look into” the touchdown surroundings.  Remember to apply your radio and inform human beings what you’re doing.  Use the CTAF frequency and your compass.  “Super Cub 123, a white great cub, is 2000 toes above snowyville airport, spiraling down to land to the south.”  Sounds bizarre, but all of the crucial facts is communicated.How Do I Know if I Can Outclimb the Terrain in My Airplane?

As an exercising, I even have students “fly the contours.”  In different phrases, comply with the terrain.  If the terrain is going up, I go up.  The terrain is going down, I move down.  I’m now not continually very interested in flying at a steady altitude.  Be dynamic together with your throttle.  Add or reduce power when essential.  If you discover your self in a situation in which you have got full energy, and your airspeed is trending beneath Vy, guess what, you will not outclimb the terrain, so damage off, spiral for altitude, and strive again.  Get used to flying in the direction of the ground, and evaluation § ninety one.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.

Except when essential for takeoff or touchdown, no person can also perform an aircraft under the following altitudes:

(a) Anywhere. An altitude lets in, if a electricity unit fails, an emergency landing with out undue risk to individuals or assets at the floor.

(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested region of a metropolis, metropolis, or agreement, or over any open-air assembly of persons, an altitude of one,000 toes above the highest impediment within a horizontal radius of 2,000 ft of the plane.

(c) Over other than congested regions. An altitude of 500 ft above the surface, besides over open water or carefully populated regions. In those instances, the aircraft may not be operated nearer than 500 ft to any character, vessel, car, or structure.Cross Ridges at a 45 Degree Angle in an Airplane 

Don’t fly perpendicular toward a mountain ridge.  If you don’t like what you spot, you currently need to show as a minimum 180 ranges to fly away from the ridge. Rather, approach the ridge at a 45-degree attitude.  Now, a simple 45-diploma flip places you flying away from that terrain toward your “safety region.”  Here is every other tip.  As you fly closer closer to your ridgeline, in case you start to see increasingly more terrain in the front of you instead of increasingly of the valley on the opposite side of the ridge, you aren’t excessive enough. Turn forty five ranges, fly away, spiral up, after which preserve. What Side of the Valley Should I Fly in My Airplane?

Since a lot of our dialogue is to usually be in a function that you could flip a hundred and eighty ranges and fly to lower terrain and feature more altitude between you and the floor beneath you, let’s now cope with wherein in the valley you need to fly.  Flying up the center of the valley may also seem extra cushty, however now you have reduce your turning area in half of.  Better that you “hug” at the aspect of the valley.  But which aspect?  Well, if you “hug” the downwind facet of your valley, then turning a hundred and eighty degrees might also placed you inside the upwind aspect, loose altitude!  Or possibly on one side of your valley is a steep rock cliff and the alternative is rolling hills, which would you need to aim in the direction of?  The actual answer is to be greater deliberate and feature a purpose for what you do!Let’s move Flying!