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.

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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?”

We completed a mountain flying course with full motion Redbird FMX simulator

Mountain goat above the clouds in sunset - Alpine Ibex - in Julian Alps_credit iStockPhotos
End of the Day, mountain goat above clouds in sunset, credit iStock Photos

This year, we also completed a mountain flying course with Professional Aviation Resources (PAR), based in Addison Texas. Rachel Palmer, CEO of PAR, ensured all the scheduling and onsite arrangements were flawlessly managed.

The course included a day of ground instruction, followed by flight training in a full motion Redbird FMX simulator with the configuration based on our make and model aircraft. Robert Palmer is the lead Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP). He has more than 18,000 hours flight experience and many levels of certification. He has put together a very well designed program with high quality instruction.

To begin our day, an old mountain flying joke provided the context for training. It’s a cartoon of two pilots looking out from the cockpit into the clouds and asking the question “What’s that goat doing up here in the clouds?” When flying close to mountains you don’t want to see goats in the clouds. Continue reading “We completed a mountain flying course with full motion Redbird FMX simulator”

Here’s the syllabus for our Introduction to Mountain Flying Course

Mountain Flying above Beaver Creek Colorado Ski Resort
Mountain Flying above Beaver Creek Colorado Ski Resort, photo credit wikiWings

If you’re interested in flying near mountains you must realize it’s very valuable to receive expert instruction. There are many mountain flight training programs based around the Rockies. Choose one and get with a local expert for personal training.

In Cirrus speak, you’ll want to have a plan to increase both your Critical Decision Making (CDM) and Cirrus Pilot Proficiency (CPP) skills. But CDM may be the most important, as astronaut Frank Borman said, “A superior pilot uses his superior judgement to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.”

Here’s the ground instruction syllabus for our Introduction to Mountain Flying Course, by Loren French with Alpine Flight Training. The course introduction begins with a strategy discussion. You’ll want a personal strategy to put as many conditions as possible in your favor. Continue reading “Here’s the syllabus for our Introduction to Mountain Flying Course”

We recently completed mountain flight training

Cirrus Perspective SR22TN, Leadville, Colorado. Highest airport in North America (KLXV) 9,934 feet.
Cirrus Perspective SR22TN, Leadville, Colorado. Highest airport in North America (KLXV) 9,934 feet.

We recently completed three days of mountain flight training in the Colorado Rockies.  It was an excellent program with CSIP instructors and we had good weather. The training included a landing at the Leadville-Lake County Airport (KLXV) in Leadville, Colorado. It’s North America’s highest airport at an elevation of 9,934 feet.

We scheduled our instruction through Alpine Flight Training which is based at Eagle County Regional Airport. They have a detailed website where you can find contact numbers if you’re interested in more information.

Giddy up!

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Happy Independence Day!

The Washington Monument and Flags of the United States of America, Washington DC, photo credit wikiWings
The Washington Monument and Flags of the United States of America, Washington DC, photo credit wikiWings

Happy July 4th 1776!

As we celebrate our nation’s two hundred forty-one years of freedom we honor those dedicated to its preservation. With respect and gratitude we thank the men and women of our armed forces, law enforcement, Homeland security, fire and rescue and many others that give us the land of the free because they are brave.

We hope that you have an enjoyable and safe July 4th week. God bless The United States of America.