Flying a light single-engine aircraft in mountainous terrain is different from any other form of flying.
The challenges of interacting with the factors of mountains, weather, wind and aircraft can be handled by acquiring some specific knowledge and skills.
And of course, like with any type of flying, mountain flying requires good judgement along with good flying skills.
Mountain navigation is quite different than flatland flying. It closely resembles that old tongue in cheek explanation of IFR flight…I follow roads OR railways.
For a cross-country flight, select the VFR routes identified by magenta diamonds on the VNC. It is not necessary to follow them at all times but they do indicate where the wider valleys, often with roads and populated areas, providing more options for turning around and, in an emergency, more options for a landing.
The key to safer navigation for mountain flying is to always plan a route that always provides plenty of room to turn around in.
Density altitude is an important factor in mountain flying. At high altitudes or in high temperatures, the density of air is reduced, affecting the performance of your aircraft. A combination of hot, high and humid will make it even worse.
Pushing the weather is one of the most common and fatal mistakes in mountain flying.
Safe mountain flight is based on early detection of hazardous situations.
But, one day, because of poor visibility or descending air you might find yourself unable to continue in the valley or pass that you are flying in.
You will have to make a 180 and return from the way you came.
Managing the risk in mountain flying requires you to follow some basic, but very important rules.
A remarkable lesson on the optical illusions that are in the mountains and that you need to trust your maps and not what your eyesight tells you sometimes.
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We would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada for this initiative through the Search and Rescue New Initiative Fund (SAR NIF).