I don’t like mountain flying because it’s objectively dangerous, and it’s subjectively frightening.

That might be the best answer I’ve seen yet on why I have an ambition to remain a flatlander pilot in practice. (It’s bumpy enough flying across the Appalachians!)

A Theory of Mountain Flying

Curtis Olson August 22, 2013 11:10

Neat video in the link.  I’ve had a chance to do some flying as a passenger in Peru and their is some crazy places to get in and out of there.  We visited Cuzco/Machu Picchu in 1999 and our flight out of Cuzco was in an old 727.  The procedure is to take off, fly down the valley, do a 180 still inside the valley and then fly back up and out.  A full 5 minutes from lift off I was still looking out the window and seeing terrain to the side and above us.  I have a picture I snapped from the front right seat of a Helio Courier on floats where we ducked below a cloud bank, but above a ridge … with about a 50’ gap if I’m generous.  There is no visible gap in the picture I took but the pilot found a way through.  On the way back he chose to circle climb for about 20 minutes to get above the cloud layer so he had a clear visual over it (even though it was obvious we were above the ridge right away, I guess there’s no point in taking chances in the remote jungles.)

David Megginson August 22, 2013 16:34

Like Mr. Fallows, I will likely try some mountain flying some day, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it.  I fly mainly for transportation, not thrills, so I need to have a reasonable dispatch success rate (80-90%).  With a normally-aspirated, 160 hp plane, that’s simply not realistic in the mountains; I doubt even 50% is.

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