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Lessons Learned: Mountains Demand Pilots’ Respect

A close call reminds the author to be ever vigilant.

Mountains demand respect. Illustration by Gabriel Campanario
Mountains demand respect. Illustration by Gabriel Campanario

The Rans S-7LS is what I refer to as a poor man’s bush plane. It can carry two people in comfort at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour (notice I didn’t say knots). And, when flown solo, it can be landed practically anywhere a pilot is skilled enough to put it down. Powered with a 100 horsepower Rotax 912ULS, the S-7 has a decent power-to-weight ratio at its maximum weight of 1,320 pounds and only burns around 4 gallons of premium auto gas an hour at full power. Of course, a Super Cub would be the ultimate airplane. For me, the S-7 is the epitome of everything I’d ever wanted in an airplane—taildragger; excellent STOL characteristics; tandem seating; inexpensive operation; two seats; and easy maintenance. My S-7LS is hangared in Granby, Colorado (KGNB).

At 8,200 feet in elevation, Granby is surrounded by the 13,000-foot mountains of the Continental Divide—making it a very challenging mountain flying destination. If you’re a pilot, you know that these elevations negatively affect impact performance—both engine power and lift are reduced.

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