6 thoughts on “Flying in the High Country Requires Different Skills

  1. You are right on target. The pilots that I have talked really do not density altitude and how equaled to aircraft performance. Hopefully the readers will take note. And brush up on density altitude physics.

  2. Great article! I too am a Colorado flyer, and enjoy the view of the great Rocky Mountains in my Cherokee 235. It’s amazing the number of pilots that I encounter that are ill prepared to fly in this environment. One thing that I do while mountain flying is constantly monitor my airspeed. Generally, I only fly a little over VA, and I do this for a couple of reasons. First, at a reduced power setting I know that I have quite a bit of power in reserve, in case I encounter one of those crazy downdrafts I like knowing that my aircraft isn’t already to the firewall – this gives me options. The other reason I fly a little slower is, as the article points out, mountain turbulence can be quite intense at times – and on occasion it can sneak up on you in some unlikely places. By already being close to VA it’s really easy for me to reel in my aircraft, and quickly! Lastly, why would I want to rush flying through some of the most beautiful scenery around?

  3. One thing has bothered me for some time. I’m based at Mojave, CA with daytime temperatures of 100+ DA often is 7000′ or higher. With the spread between temp and dew point often more then 35 degrees, humidity 10% or less. We all lean for peak power, expect the increased mag drop on run up. But during approach to Mojave, or in the pattern it’s Mixture Full Rich, Carb heat ON. Are they expecting to do a run up on short final if a wave off is required, or doing a touch and go? I leave the mixture at, or a touch richer of what it was set at for cruise, for pattern work I don’t touch the mixture from the run up setting and Carb heat off in both cases. Which is correct.

  4. Very precise and interesting. I live in South America in the Andes mountains. DAs go up to around 10k at around 68-73° depending on the hour. It would also be interesting to find out what drag does to this performance. I assume (no scientific evidence) that the more drag, the more power needed for level flight, hence, less specific excess power to climb. Lastly, I fly an experimental biplane. Plenty of wing area and low loading, but what is the shape/area/ airfoil type’s role in high altitude ops? Longer, higher aspect ratio wings in gliders would make you think fat short wings are less efficient.

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