I do not want to cast aspersions on anyone, but Steven might have been lucky during his mountain flying.  I have flown over the Cascade mountains, the Rocky Mountains, and such many times.  The fellow in the Cub was also lucky.  Here are some tips offered "free of charge".


Before flying in the mountains, get some introduction from an expert.  Mine was my dad, who among other things, flew the Hump in WW II, accumulated more than 40,000 hours as a military pilot, spray pilot, instructor, and so on.  Besides normal instruction, he made me fly with instruments tapped over (except oil and temp guages), land in fields, learn arerobatics, and on and on and on.


Get a detailed weather report, and, while flying up canyons.  As for ridges, always fly on the downwind side when the wind is parallel to the ridge (get the updraft, not the downdraft.  Give a pass plenty of altitude when the wind is perpendicular to the ridge (my minimum is 2,000 feet.  NEVER fly up the middle of a canyon.


Do not fly in the mountains when the wind exceeds half the stall performance of your airplane.


Do fly in the mornings, best when the wind is calm.


Study evey detail of approaching and landing on a mountain strip BEFORE trying to do so.  For example, years ago, the Minam River in Oregon has a strip that required flying into the canyon, flying low about a half-file mile up the river, noting a rock marked with an X, and landing immediately after flying around the bend in the river that came a few yards after rounding the rock.


Hope this helps, along with anything else you can learn from pilots who have flown done mountain flying.







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Comment by Mack P. Kreizenbeck on August 18, 2012 at 5:59pm

Greetings from Idaho,

I support Bill's instructions on mountain flying, but I'd like to add a little!

I'm sure most of you have read about & seen the video of the overloaded Stinson that crashed on take off from a 5000' strip with an elevation of 6370' @ 3:30pm in the heat of the day on 6-30-12. This happened @ Bruce Meadows (U63) in Idaho's back country, an area that I like to call my back yard. It is estimated that density altitude was between 9000' & 10000'. The commentator on the video said that a downdraft caused the accident -- it was density altitude and "get homeitus"!

Clearly, this pilot had no back country instruction as he was quoted that "he thought the runway was long enough".

Normal hours for flying the back country is from sun-up until 10:30 a.m. or strong winds, whichever comes first.

Another rule-of-thumb is: wait until after 5 p.m. & calm winds -- safer & cooler after 7 p.m..

Always land upstream and takeoff downstream. Most back country strips do not have provisions for "go arounds".

One cannot keep many of Idaho's back-country strips in sight during the downwind and base landing maneuvers.

Weather is not easily obtainable in the back country - when in doubt, do not fly.

When flying in the canyons, the rule of the road is: stay on the right hand side, make a position reports when passing over landmarks, etc...

But first of all, get checked out with a qualified instructor that knows the country!


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