A different flight slope – 2018

This week I’m taking a break from general aviation to join up on a different flight slope – The ski slopes at Vail Resort in

White River National Forest, Vail Colorado 2018, photo credit wikiWings
White River National Forest, mountains of Vail Colorado 2018, photo credit wikiWings

Colorado. It’s “high altitude” but my feet are still on the ground.

Snow fall has been light this year, but we arrived to marvel at two winter storms which helped to cover the slopes with fresh snow.  The mountains and sky are beautiful.

I hope you can take some time off for rest and fellowship with family and friends. Blue sky!

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High Flight 2017

In 1922, Amelia Earhart set the feminine altitude record of 4,267 meters (14,000 feet). A courageous and capable aviator, and inspiration to many. Go women in aviation.

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
 of sun-split clouds, –
And done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of —
Wheeled and soared and swung
 high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along,
And flung
 my eager craft through footless halls of air . . . Continue reading “High Flight 2017”

We attended EAA AirVenture 2017 in Oshkosh Wisconsin

In July 2017, we flew our plane to the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh Wisconsin. Many years had past since I had last attended. It was good to be back and EAA AirVenture did not disappoint. The weather was just perfect. Here are my brief highlights:

EAA AirVenture 2017, P51 Mustang and two pilots discussing flight tactics, photo credit wikiWings
EAA AirVenture 2017, P51 Mustang and two pilots discussing flight tactics, photo credit wikiWings

Warbirds were in full array. The quality and quantity of restored military aircraft was impressive. I’ve never seen so many. I believe Baby Boomers are spending their retirement dollars on warbirds and enjoying every minute of doing so.

The world famous Blue Angels provided a spectacular physics defying aerial presentation every day we were there. And, each afternoon special aviators took to the sky to display their airplanes and flying skills.

The EAA Aviation Museum was an impressive pause from the activities outside. I had not previously been to the museum. They have a collection of more than 200 historic airplanes and many world-class galleries. I found the documentation of EAA members that have been leaders in innovation a compelling story. We need that passion in the next generation of pilots. Continue reading “We attended EAA AirVenture 2017 in Oshkosh Wisconsin”

What’s in your airplane survival kit?

Surviving an off-airport landing is one of five introductory mountain flying topics discussed by Loren French, with Alpine

San Juan National Forest, Colorado Rockies, mountain forest, blue sky and scattered clouds, photo wikiWings
San Juan National Forest, Colorado Rockies, mountain forest, blue sky and scattered clouds, photo wikiWings

Flight Training. His instruction begins with strategy planning to reduce risk and put as many conditions in your favor as possible. Don’t plan your route across terrain where you’d find it hard to survive one night waiting on rescue.

One situation Loren shared was a mountain rescue that took more than a day. The survivors could see the rescue aircraft overhead and made the mistake thinking the rescuers could see them. They turned the Emergency Locator Transmitter off – believing rescue was imminent. With no signal the aircraft left the area. Unfortunately, this occurred several times, as the aircraft would appear the survivors would turn the ELT off which ultimately delayed their recovery until the next day. It became an infamous game of cat and mouse. Let the ELT do its job and rescue personnel will turn it off when they’re on site.

A second story Loren shared was a training exercise in Colorado. About a dozen individuals participated in surviving one night in the Colorado Rockies. Continue reading “What’s in your airplane survival kit?”

What are your mountain flying weather minimums?

Loren French, with Alpine Flight Training, teaches an introductory mountain flying course aimed at piston-engine pilots navigating below 12,000 feet in VFR conditions. Here’s his guidance on weather minimums for pilots new to mountain flying:

San Isabel National Forest, mountains, scattered clouds & blue sky, Salida, United States, photo credit wikiWings
San Isabel National Forest, mountains, scattered clouds & blue sky, Salida, United States, photo credit wikiWings

What are Your Mountain Flying Wx Minimums?

  • Visibility: Minimum 10 miles along your route
  • Wind Aloft: Maximum 25 knots forecast between 9,000 and 12,000
  • Cloud bases: 2,000 feet above all ridges and passes along your route

Weather minimums are part of Loren’s guidance to develop a strategy that puts conditions in your favor.  If your weather minimums cannot be met look for a suitable alternate route, delay the flight or cancel and rent a car.

Connecting Aviators™
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What’s the mountain performance of your airplane?

2008 Cirrus Perspective SR22TN Turbo, Eagle County Airport (KEGE) Colorado, blue sky and scattered clouds, photo credit wikiWings
2008 Cirrus Perspective SR22TN Turbo, Eagle County Airport (KEGE) Colorado, blue sky and scattered clouds, photo credit wikiWings

What’s your airplane’s performance at mountain altitudes? Airplane performance is one of five primary topics discussed in the Alpine Flight Training course.

The Pilot Operating Handbook (POH), Section 5 contains performance data for takeoff, climb gradients and landing distances, which you’ll want to study. Your airplane’s performance will vary based on weight, altitude and air temperature. And, keep in mind the POH numbers listed are for a new aircraft. Your plane’s age and condition can be a factor in actual performance.

Alpine Flight Training, suggests creating a blank table template and entering the actual performance for your individual airplane. Training with a local expert can help you gain a better understanding of your airplane’s true performance in the mountains at high altitude. It’s said, a normally aspirated airplane will lose about 3% in engine performance for every 1,000 feet.  At an altitude of 10,000 feet that’s a 30% loss in engine power. Continue reading “What’s the mountain performance of your airplane?”