Mesquite To Las Vegas Airport – Posted by: club In: Aviation safety, Informative articles, Learn to fly, Mountain Flying July 1, 2021 Comments: 0
Flying near mountainous terrain offers incredible rewards: breathtaking scenery, beautiful destinations, and getting to desirable locations faster. However, flying in mountains presents many unique challenges for pilots. A qualified Pilot in Command will take the risks into account and do his best to mitigate and prepare for them. Carefully consider the following ten areas before embarking on a flight over mountainous terrain.
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This is very important! Some flight schools will not even accept students for mountain flight training if they have less than 250 hours of PIC. This may seem extreme, but the mountainous environment can leave little room for error and the ability to maintain control of the aircraft is vital. Mountain Flying LLC (www.mountainflying.com) emphasizes the importance of stall knowledge, aircraft control (including airspeed control +/-3 knots), and proficiency in accurate landings. Every pilot is different, but honestly assess whether your skills and proficiency are up to the challenge. Otherwise, consider taking some training with a CFI to familiarize yourself with operating in the mountains before venturing out alone or with passengers.
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Another great one! If your aircraft has a mediocre climb rate on a winter day near sea level, consider renting a better-performing aircraft for a trip into the mountains. It is recommended to use a plane with at least 160 hp. As all student pilots learn, increasing pressure and density altitudes have a significant impact on airplane performance; for every 1000 foot increase in density altitude, normally aspirated engine performance decreases by about 3% AND true speed increases by about 2%. Furthermore. On summer days in mountainous terrain, the altitude temperature and density can remain high even after sunset. Please be familiar with and use your airplane’s performance charts before flying in the mountains. Some suggest reducing the maximum gross takeoff weight by 10% to help compensate for the reduced performance.
Regarding aircraft performance, remember that your plane will take off and land differently at high-density altitudes. Expect a longer takeoff run and pay close attention to maintaining the appropriate indicated airspeed. At higher, less dense altitudes, the true speed will be higher, which has led some pilots to feel like they are going faster and mistakenly turn or approach at a very low speed, close to stall. Also check the POH for appropriate Vx and Vy speed in case they change altitude. Make sure your landing approach is stable and don’t hesitate to turn around if necessary. Some experienced mountain pilots make it a habit to fly a wider pattern than normal because of the increase in true speed, to allow for a wider turning radius. Know and follow your engine manufacturer’s recommendations for tilting the engine for better power when taking off at high-density altitude.
Familiarize yourself with the airspace symbols, minimum weather conditions, and entry requirements for the airspace you will be flying through. Although in lower terrain a pilot may be able to fly below MOAs and restricted or prohibited airspace, this may not be possible in the mountains (and there are often many such special-use airspace areas over the mountains in the western United States. Be aware that Class E airspace may begin at altitudes higher than the usual 700 or 1200 AGL, indicated by a blue shaded line, with Class G underlying. Above 10,000 MSL, Class E weather minima increases to 5 sm visibility, 1,000′ below, 1,000′ above, and 1 mile horizontally from clouds. Class G also has higher minimums above 10,000′ MSL.
Unless there is a very stable, high-pressure air mass on a calm, cool day, flying in the mountains usually means dealing with some kind of wind: high winds, gusts, turbulence, wind shear, updrafts, and downdrafts. and even mountain waves. . Familiarize yourself with the weather patterns in the area where you will be flying and expect windy conditions. It is best to fly when winds at the ridge line do not exceed 20-25 knots; otherwise, you can expect turbulence and possibly wind shear. Cross ridge lines at least 1000′ AGL when calm, and if winds exceed 20 knots, cross them at least 2000′ AGL. If necessary to gain altitude, consider circling above the airport after takeoff to climb to a safe altitude. Approach the ridge lines at a 45-degree angle, so you have an easier exit if you encounter strong turbulence and need to move away from the ridge. If there is an Airmet issued for moderate or severe turbulence, consider postponing your flight.
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If you happen to encounter updrafts or downdrafts, well-known pilot and author Barry Schiff writes: “Maintaining altitude when flying through updrafts and downdrafts is counterproductive. Raising the nose to maintain altitude in a downdraft results in a loss of airspeed, which prolongs the time spent in the downdraft. Instead, maintain attitude, accept the loss of altitude, and move through the downdraft as quickly as possible to minimize its effect.” (https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2018/january/pilot/proficient-pilot-turbulent-advice)
Whenever possible in uncontrolled fields, listen to the ASOS/AWOS report from several miles away to determine the best runway for landing and/or observe the windsock flying over the field at 500 feet above the traffic standard altitude. Winds in mountainous areas can change suddenly, so pay attention to the windsock. Ensure a stabilized approach, use appropriate crosswind correction, and turn around when necessary. Apply appropriate crosswind correction throughout landing, deceleration, and during taxi operations. Tie the plane down securely for parking, as winds may increase unexpectedly.
Some pilots experienced in mountain flying recommend having a minimum visibility of 10 m during mountain flying operations. With the elevation of the terrain, morning fogs and temperature inversions are common, causing reduced visibility in some areas. There is a network of FAA webcams available in remote locations like Alaska, Canada and Colorado to help pilots get a picture of what’s happening with the weather in real time. See www.avcams.faa.gov for details.
Pilots are familiar with the various hazards associated with thunderstorms: heavy rain, turbulence, wind shear, hail and high winds, and reduced visibility, to name a few. Remember that in order to form, thunderstorms must have sufficient moisture, lifting force, and unstable air. Mountains naturally provide the lifting force, so just add some unstable air and moisture and you have the perfect combination for thunderstorms to develop. This is particularly the case during summer afternoons, so be alert and make sure you fly at least 20nm away from any thunderstorm cells and try to fly early in the day before development is most likely to occur. of storm. Also avoid virga; Although beautiful, rain that falls from clouds and evaporates before reaching the ground can be full of strong air currents and be dangerous to small aircraft.
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Even when we’re not operating in the mountains, flying at night presents its own set of unique risks and considerations. In the mountains, these same considerations are only magnified. In addition to the minimum of 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop to meet recent experience requirements for carrying passengers, pilots must evaluate whether they are proficient for night flying, especially in mountainous areas. One of the biggest risks is flying into the terrain. Use all available resources to ensure the flight path is clear of terrain, including sectionals and/or electronic charts. Have a clear, well-thought-out plan for arrivals and departures. Consider investing in an electronic app that displays virtual terrain information, like this one from ForeFlight:
Another danger is losing an engine at night and not being able to see to select a suitable emergency landing site. When possible, follow the roads at night. Headlights make cars easier to see for navigation, and roads are an excellent place for emergency landing. Another danger at night is susceptibility to hypoxia at lower altitudes. During daytime flights, hypoxia can be noticed at around 10,000 feet, but at night, because our eyes rely more on oxygen-sensitive rods than cones, the effects of hypoxia can be noticed up to 5,000 feet. Know the symptoms of hypoxia and select a cruising altitude high enough to clear terrain without flying higher than necessary. Make sure you have a flashlight/headlamp, extra batteries, and an organized cabin so you can locate things as needed. Review optical illusions that can occur at night: black hole illusion, bright or dim lights leading to a high or low approach, false horizon, etc., and be ready to rely on your instruments to help maintain situational awareness and control of the aircraft. Use utmost caution when flying at night in mountainous terrain and choose to fly during the day if possible.
Keep in mind that adequate visual checkpoints can be scarce in the mountains. Look for prominent peaks, towns, lakes, roads, and mines. Whenever possible, follow highways or roads (or at least rivers and valleys) as they are easy to follow and provide suitable emergency landing sites. It may take a little longer than going straight, but if you miss
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