First Time Mountain Flying

Flight time: .9 hrs

Yesterday I took my first foray into the world mountain flying. Conditions were prefect for it, the skies above the Chugach were totally clear and completely calm, so I took the opportunity to start getting myself familiar with flying in this kind of terrain. I started with a small goal, and made a short but sweet trip up and over Powerline Pass.

As part of my preflight, I used my map and flight computer to calculate the distance, airspeed and time that I’d need to climb to an altitude that would get me safely over the Pass, just so that there wouldn’t be any surprises. I wasn’t too worried, but it was good practice just to make sure.

Once in the plane, I didn’t didn’t have any problem gaining the necessary altitude, and as I flew up the valley, I was able to look down on and right at Flattop Mountain, O’Malley Peak and Turnagain Peak, and see some of the areas where I’ve hiked before. Seeing all that terrain and some of the from the air was an incredible experience.

Once over the Pass, I crossed over into the Indian Valley did a few circles, practiced my steep turns and enjoyed spectacular views of the Chugach and the Turnagain Arm. Looking across the Arm, I could see the small Hope airstrip nestled down in the trees. It’s such a change in scenery now, everything is getting so green!

After a bit, I turned back, headed over another pass right between the Suicide Peaks, flew over Rabbit Lake and down the McHugh valley before turning back towards Merrill. Unfortunately, my landing wasn’t very good. I turned late on final and was a little low, so I had to make that correction, and then I ended up floating a bit and touching down about ten of fifteen feet to the right of the centerline. The windsock hung straight as was coming down to the runway, so maybe I just got hit by a small gust of wind right when I crossed the numbers.

Oh well, Great flight, so so landing. I’ll make the next one better.

Turnagain Peak.

Turnagain Peak.

The west side of Powerline Pass.

The west side of Powerline Pass.

Indian Valley, east of Powerline Pass.

A ridge above Indian Valley, east of Powerline Pass.

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One Response to First Time Mountain Flying

  1. This is a good book that reminds the pilot to consider all aspect of mountain flying, not just the challenges of high altitude, unusual approaches and short airstrips. There is significant information about aircraft performance at high density altitudes, special weather considerations in the mountains, techniques for evaluating mountain airstrips, flying non-standard approach patterns. It is not as exciting a read, nor does it give as much attention to specific aircraft handling skills as F.E. Potts’ "Guide to Bush Flying," but is the recognized standard for an armchair introduction to piloting an aircraft in the mountains and should find a place on any pilot’s bookshelf.

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