Be familiar with your
airplane and know it's operating limitations.
KNOW YOUR V SPEED
Check the weather and plan to stay out of
CALL FLIGHT SERVICE/USE DUATS/GET AREA FORECAST/CALL AIRPORT/CALL LOCAL SHERIFF OR RADIO
File a Flight Plan and fly that plan
PLAN FLIGHT TO FOLLOW ROADS, VALLEYS,
POPULATED AREAS. DIRECT ROUTING IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST OR POSSIBLE DUE TO TERRAIN.
Keep airplane as light as possible.
CALCULATE A WEIGHT AND BALANCE ON ALL FLIGHTS.
Become familiar with the field of intended
CALL AIRPORT AND ASK ABOUT ANY IF THERE ARE SPECIFIC PROBLEMS COMING IN OR GOING OUT OF
Plan flight to takeoff and land in early
SMOOTH AIR IS NORMALLY AVAILABLE DURING THAT TIME.
Carry survival equipment/water/first aid in
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER AT YOUR DESTINATION.
Oxygen should be available.
BECOME FAMILIAR WITH ROUTE AND IF REQUIRED, USE OXYGEN.
Carry survival gear.
IF YOU HAVE TO GO DOWN, BE PREPARED.
Calculate takeoff performance using current
REFER TO OPERATIONS MANUAL/USE KOCH CHART/MAKE SURE YOUR AIRPLANE CAN CLIMB TO CLEAR
Lean mixture for takeoff and climb
FOR MOST SINGLE ENGINE AIRCRAFT-DO A FULL POWER RUN UP AFTER THE NORMAL RUN UP AND LEAN
FOR MAXIMUM RPM.
Let the plane fly off the ground.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLIMB IN HIGH DENSITY ALTITUDE SITUATIONS UNTIL THERE IS SUFFICIENT
AIRSPEED. LET THE SPEED BUILD IN GROUND EFFECT IF NECESSARY.
Keep a positive rate of climb, even if it is
IF CLIMB RATE DECREASES AFTER TAKEOFF, LOWER THE NOSE. KEEP UP THE SPEED. DO NOT ALLOW THE
PLANE TO MUSH AND THEN STALL.
Use known escape routes.
TALK WITH PILOTS AND FBO OPERATORS TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN NOT MAKE A NORMAL
There is no natural horizon. Constantly
rising terrain can appear to be level.
MONITOR THE ATTITUDE INDICATOR AND AIRSPEED ALONG WITH VISUAL REFERENCES.
Use mixture control.
LEAN FOR MOST EFFICIENT FUEL BURN AT ALTITUDE.
Use altitude for safety if you can.
PLAN YOUR FLIGHT SO THAT YOU HAVE AT LEAST 1,000 FEET OF CLEARANCE OVER THE HIGHEST
TERRAIN ALONG YOUR ROUTE. IN HIGH WIND CONDITIONS, PLAN ON 2,000 FEET OF CLEARANCE.
Watch for downdrafts.
NORMALLY THE DOWNDRAFT WILL APPEAR ON THE LEEWARD SIDE. DOWNDRAFTS CAN ALSO OCCUR DURING
CLIMBOUT OVER MOUNTAINS. IF YOU ENCOUNTER A DOWNDRAFT ON CLIMBOUT, TURN AROUND AND WAIT
FOR WINDS TO CALM.
Cross mountain ridges at a 45 degree angle.
THIS WILL ALLOW YOU TO TURN TO LOWER TERRAIN WITH ONLY A 90 DEGREE TURN RATHER THAN A 135
Turbulence is normal during the summer months
IN THE LATE MORNING AND ALL AFTERNOON, TURBULENCE CAN BECOME ANNOYING. RIDE OUT LIGHT TO
MODERATE TURBULENCE. KNOW YOUR V SPEED. SEVERE TURBULENCE CAN BE DANGEROUS. CONSIDER
CANCELING DURING WARNINGS OF SEVERE TURBULENCE.
Keep abreast of the weather
CALL FLIGHT WATCH/CALL UNICOMS/LISTEN TO OTHER AIRCRAFT/IF ADF, LISTEN TO LOCAL STATIONS.
Let people know where you are.
MAKE POSITION REPORTS TO FSS OR TO LOCAL AIRPORTS.
Fly your flight plan
IF YOU CAN NOT FLY YOUR FLIGHT AS PLANNED, LET FSS KNOW ABOUT IT IMMEDIATELY AND GIVE THEM
Use mixture control.
SET MIXTURE CONTROL FOR BEST BURN AT YOUR ALTITUDE.
Use your normal indicated airspeeds.
AT HIGH ALTITUDES WITH THE WINDS PRODUCING LESS LIFT, THE PROPELLER LESS EFFICIENT AND THE
ENGINE PRODUCING LESS POWER, YOU STILL APPEAR TO BE MOCING FASTER (TRUE AIRSPEED IS
HIGHER) AT NORMAL INDICATED AIRSPEEDS. BUT, USE THEM!!!
Fly a stable approach with constant airspeed
rate of descent.
REMEMBER WITH A LANDING AT A NARROW FIELD, YOU WILL THINK YOU ARE HIGHER. MOUNTAINOUS
TERRAIN CAN ALSO CONFUSE YOU AT TIMES AS HORIZON IS NORMALLY FALSE.
Watch out for departing traffic.
SOME MOUNTAIN AIRPORTS REQUIRE LANDINGS AND DEPARTURES IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS DUE TO
TERRAIN. KEEP YOUR LANDING LIGHT ON FOR IDENTIFICATION.
Be careful if landing at night.
DUE TO TERRAIN SURROUNDING MOUNTAIN AIRPORTS, USE THE OVERHEAD DESCENT PROCEDURE.
Watch out for dangerous crosswinds or wind
REMEMBER, MOUNTAIN WAVES. THEY CAN ROLL ACROSS RUNWAYS IF MOUNTAINS ARE CLOSE TO RUNWAY.
Close your flight plan.
REMEMBER, THE FAA WILL START LOOKING FOR YOU WITHIN THIRTY MINUTES AND THE CIVIL AIR
PATROL WILL BEGIN A SEARCH WITHIN ONE HOUR.
DO NOT TOP OFF YOUR TANKS. PLAN YOUR FUEL SO
THAT YOU CAN GET MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE ON TAKEOFF AND CLIMB AND HAVE ENOUGH TO GET TO LOWER
ELEVATIONS BEFORE TOPPING OFF.
Rules of thumb
ADD 10% takeoff roll for each 1,000 feet of field elevation above sea
ADD another 10% for each 15ºF above
std. temp. (Sea level 59ºF)
A 10% increase in weight results in
a 20% increase in takeoff roll. A 20% wt. incr. requires 40% more runway.
CROSSWIND COMPONENTS (Degrees to Runway):
|15º = .3 x Wind
||30º = .5 x Wind
|45º = .7 x Wind
||60º = .9 x Wind
ALWAYS breathe supplemental oxygen above 12,500 feet M.S.L.
Night vision deteriorates rapidly above 5,000
feet M.S.L. Use Oxygen from ground up. A smoker who averages one pack a day has the same
oxygen requirements at 10,000 feet as the nonsmoker requires at 14,000 feet.
A non-instrument pilot will often lose control of the aircraft within 3 minutes of
losing visual contact with the ground or a true horizon. VERY IMPORTANT to night flight in
Actual : C. x 1.8 + 32 = F.
Est. : C. x 2 + 25 = F.
Climb Performance / V speeds
Maximum Search Ceiling Altitude: climb rate
of 300 feet per minute.
Effect of Weight on climb performance (less weight is better):
C-172: for each 100 lb. weight reduction, ROC
increases 60 fpm
C-182/Arrow: for each 100 lb. weight reduction, ROC increases 80 fpm
Most V speeds change as 1/2 the percentage of
the change in weight (the square root of the ratio is more precise)
Bank angles for search:
Maximum of 30º while scanning
Maximum of 45º to position the aircraft for a pass
The 60º bank is reserved for an emergency escape (It may result in altitude loss)
Canyon turn: entry speed - 1.5 Vso, approach
flaps, 60º bank, pull to stall warning (AVOID ACTUAL STALL), may lose altitude.
Modified Wingover: Pull up to ~ 30º pitch, when airspeed drops to ~ 70 kts apply rudder
in direction of turn, allerons neutral; after 90º of turn, relax back pressure and rudder
pressure. Recover from nose-down with gentle back pressure.
1 knot = 100-feet per minute
Crosswind estimation: at 100 kts, each 5 degrees of crab is equal to 10 knots of crosswind
Direction/velocity estimation: Over a
distinct point, enter a 45º turn at 100 KTAS. After a full circle, check position back to
Wind direction is from the point to current position
Velocity in knots is the distance in thousands of feet times 2.
Turn Radius (in feet):
45º bank time (speed in kts, squared) + 10 (11.26 to be precise)
30º bank 75% larger
60º bank 40% smaller
At 100 knots, a 45º bank turn has a radius
of ~900 feet
At 100 knots, you travel 1,000 feet in 6 seconds
Time in seconds to make a 360º turn at a 45º bank speed in kts + 3 same rules as for radius for 30º and 60º banks
above apply for time
3º decent 20/1 @100 kts, 3º = 100/20 = 5 kts or 500 fpm or multiply speed
in knots by 5 to get fpm (100 kts x 5 = 500 fpm)
4º decent: multiply speed in knots by 8 to
get fpm descent rate
Rules for Ridges and Canyons
Approach ridges at a 45º angle when within 1/4 to 1/2 mile
Always remain in a position where you can turn toward lowering terrain
Safe to cross a ridge when you could cross the ridge in a power-off glide
Fly along windard/downwind sides of canyons to allow use of the full width to turn around
Pressure Altitude: set altimeter to 29.92 to display, or add 1,000-feet per inch of
mercury above 29.92 (subtract below 29.92)
Standard Temp: 59ºF-3.5º per thousand feet MSL (Standard Lapse Rate)
Density Altitude: Pressure Alt + 66 x (Ambient Temp - Std Temp ºF) or add 600 feet for
each 10ºF above Standard Temperature
Temp Conversions: Double ºC add 30 for ºF (exact ºF = ºC x 9/5 + 32)
True airspeed increases ~ 2% per thousand feet of altitude
For each 10 knots wind speed, fly 1000 feet above terrain
If wind is >30 knots at peaks, don't go unless absolutely necessary
Mountain Wave conditions (AVOID):
1) Forecast winds aloft at alt of peaks > 30 kts
2) Wind direction +/- 30 degrees of perpendicular to obstruction
3) Wind velocity steadily increasing with increasing altitude(wind velocity at 34,000 feet
>74 kt is a strong indicator for wave)
4)Wind direction relatively constant with increasing altitude
Wave Downdraft Escape: if descending at Vy
faster than you should be ascending:
1) Turn toward lower terrain,
2) Increase speed to cruise speed, (use Va if any turbulence is present) to flu out of the
Turning downwind is the fastest direction to fly out of the downdraft
If you don't have 71% of take off speed at midpoint of runway, abort the takeoff because
you won't reach takeoff speed before the end of the runway.
Takeoff distance varies as the square of the weight.
For each 1000 DA above sea level, add 12% to the sea level takeoff distance, add 4% to the
firm turf: add 7%
rough, rocky or short grass (<4" high): add 10%
long grass(>4" high): add 20-30%
soft field: add 23-75%
mud or snow: add 50+%
For each 1% of downslope, subtract 5% from
For each 1% of upslope add 7% to takeoff distance
Is required for the pilot after 30 minutes
above 12,500 feet;
At all times above 14,000;
For all passengers above 15,000
Recommended for search operations above 10,000
Flying Survival Tips
1 Tube tent
2 Space blankets
5 Altitude flares
2 Day/Night flares
2 Orange smoke signals
1 Signaling Mirror
2 Small long-burn candles
25 Waterproof strike-anywhere matches
1 Swiss army knife
50' Nylon rope
1 small pliers
1 Hack say blade
2 Razor blades
First Aid Kit
Snake bite kit
Dry soup packs
Pencil and Pan
Zip lock bags
Emergency Uses of Aircraft Parts
Ailerons - snow cutting tools; shelter braces; splints
Air Filter - fire-starter material;
Aluminum Skin- reflector for warmth
around a fire; splint; signaling device; snow saw blade
Battery - signaling with lights; fire
Break fluid - fire starter
Charts and Maps - stuff inside
clothing for insulation
Compass - oil for starting fire;
Control Cables - rope; snare wire;
binding for shelter
Control Pulleys with Cable - block and
Disc Brake Plates - signaling devices
Doors - shelter; windbreak
Engine Cowl - shelter; water
collector; windbreak; fire platform
Engine Mags - spark producers for
Engine Oil - fire starter; black smoke
Engine Gas - fire starter; fuel for
Fabric Skin - fire starter; water
Fuel Cells - use to melt snow on a
black surface; black smoke for signaling; place on snow for signal to search and rescue
Fuselage - shelter
Hoses - siphon for water/gas/oil; burn
for black smoke
Inner Tubes - canteen; elastic
binding; black smoke signal
Interior Fabric - water strainer or
filter; clothing; insulation; bandages
Landing Light Lens - fire starter
Landing Light, Strobes - use battery
to signal at night
Light covers - utensils; small tools
Magnesium Wheels - signaling devices
Nose Spinner Cone - bucket; stove with
sand, oil and fuel; scooping tool; cooking pot; funnel
Oil Filter - burn for black smoke
Propeller - shovel; snow-cutting tool;
Rotating Beacon Lens - drinking cup
Rugs - ground pad; insulation,
Seats - sleeping cushions; back brace;
fire starter; signal material; insulation; ground pad; rubber sponge for neck support
Seat belts - binding material; slings;
Spring Steel Landing Gear - pry bar;
Tires - fire starter; fuel; black
Vertical Stabilizer - shelter support;
Wheel Fairing - water storage; water
collection; black smoke
Windows - shelter; windbreaks; cutting
Wings - windbreaks; shelter supports;
overhead shade; platform for fire; water collector; signaling device; crutch
Wingtips - drip collectors; water
Wiring - binding; rope
Wooden Wing Struts,
Braces, Props - fire starter; fuel; pry bar; splint; shelter
brace; flag pole
crossing ridges or a series of ridges while heading into the wind,
you should always turn to approach the ridge at a 45- degree angle
when within ¼ mile of the ridge. Choose your crossing point and
anticipated direction of turn (to the right or to the left) so
that the turnaround path will be free of obstructions. This provides
the option of escaping toward the lowering terrain and reversing
the course with only a 135- degree turn rather than a 180-degree
Suppose that you
have chosen a good escape route. While attempting to cross the
ridge at a 45- degree angle, you find yourself descending in a
strong downdraft. If it is doubtful that you can safely cross
the ridge, start the turn immediately, heading away from the ridge.
Apply full power and fly in a climb attitude at maneuvering speed.
The aircraft may still be descending. It is important to get as
far away from the ridge as possible as quickly as possible. The
further away from the ridge, the less downdraft and the less turbulence
will be encountered.
The use of maneuvering
speed allows for the fastest speed possible that prevents overstressing
the aircraft in severe turbulence. Although the transition to
maneuvering speed may increase the rate of descent, the overall
time period the airplane is in the downdraft is shortened, resulting
in less altitude loss.
your vertical speed indicator as some downdrafts are smooth and
you may not even realize you in one. For this reason, monitor
the vertical speed indicator in the mountains. Typical downdrafts
are 1000 to 1400 feet per minute and on occasion may be much higher.
Flying in a downdraft
may produce a sudden and severe jolt, similar to hitting a curb
in an automobile. Next may be a lull followed by another bump.
The jolts may come from all directions, vertical and horizontal.
Sometimes the turbulence is severe enough to tip the airplane
up on one wing. It keeps you very busy and it may be difficult
to maintain full control.
However, be careful
not to over-control, especially elevator control. Fly an attitude
and accept altitude loss. When the airplane approaches lower terrain,
the severe turbulence will subside. At this point, the airplane
may still not be able to climb as the air above is still cascading
down. It may be possible to climb to a certain altitude and then
the rate of climb goes to zero. It may be necessary to fly toward
the windward slope or some distance downwind from the ridge that
is causing the downdraft before the airplane can establish a positive
rate of climb.
While maneuvering to
get out of the downdraft, all available power may be required.
With a constant speed prop, advance the control for low pitch
(high RPM). Lean the engine for maximum power.
to cross the ridge again, climb 2000 to 3000 feet above the ridge
before attempting to cross it again. In a high wind condition,
a downdraft may be encountered even if you are 2000 to 3000 feet
above the ridge. Expect downdrafts and turbulence when the wind
caused by pilots encountering downdrafts are due to the pilot’s
concern about altitude loss, rather than an escape away from the
ridge that is causing the downdraft.
Flying at maneuvering
speed, rather than the best rate of climb airspeed will place
the airplane farther away from the slope in less time. The difference
in altitude loss may be as little as a 100 foot per minute difference
while flying at Va rather than Vy during the time required getting
out of this area. The total altitude loss, even though the rate
of descent is greater when flying at maneuvering speed, will be
During the 30-second
escape maneuver, maintaining Vx results in a 450-foot altitude
loss while traveling 3,050 feet downwind from the mountain. Flight
at Vy results in a 400-foot altitude loss and a distance from
the mountain of 3,813 feet. Although flight at Va resulted in
a total altitude loss of 500 feet, the distance from the mountain
is increased to 4,575 feet.
to a loss in feet-per nautical mile of 896 at Vx, 637 at Vy, and
664 at Va. Thus is it best to fly at Va in a downdraft.
If you can find
an area with a more gentle slope, as opposed to a severe face,
you would be much more likely to avoid a downdraft. Try to visualize
the manner in which air will flow over the mountain’s surface.
up and downdrafts are not necessarily associated with ridges.
Sustained up and downdrafts can occur anywhere.
FLYING AT NIGHT
Flying in the mountains
at night can present unique problems to the pilot who is not familiar
with mountain flying. Around mountain towns you can see the lights
of the town and surrounding lights, but the mountains, especially
on a dark night, appear as large, dark, ill-defined shapes, if
visible at all. Know where you are at all times and make sure
that you have plenty of altitude to clear the terrain.
If you are flying VFR
and receiving vectors from ATC, do not count on them providing
terrain clearance unless you ask for it and they agree to provide
advisories. Even if you are receiving vectors with terrain clearance,
and you are not comfortable with the surroundings, query ATC.
If you are flying straight
and level and have a mountain in front of you, but you can see
lights of a town or road in the distance ahead of you, you will
clear the mountain. If you cannot see the lights, then there should
be some doubt in your mind as to whether or not you will clear
the mountain tops. Check your sectional for terrain elevations
and if you are uncertain about your position, begin climbing or
reverse your course.
When crossing the mountains
in VFR conditions, at night, it is a good idea to follow roads
or highways, especially Interstate Highways. It will help you
keep track of your position and if you do have an emergency, it
is better to have it with a road beneath your aircraft. Also,
if possible, obtain FLIGHT FOLLOWING from ATC.
Watch closely the temperature/dew
point spread, especially when it is clearing up after a rain during
the day. Use caution when the spread is fewer than 4 degrees F.
The earth is giving up its heat rapidly and the temperature /dew
point can come together quickly. You may first notice little patches
of fog in the low areas. If they start growing and filling in,
it is best to get to an airport and land as soon as possible.
Airports located in mountain valleys are very susceptible to fog
at night and in the early mornings. The fog may form very quickly,
so pay close attention to what you observe from the air.
If you experience a
power loss at night in the mountains and there are no lights in
the vicinity, complete the usual emergency cockpit check and begin
looking for any light of any kind. Sometimes lakes and rivers
are visible at night, even with only starlight illumination.
If all you observe
is a black void, extend full flaps, trim for nose up at a speed
just above stall speed. The indicated forward speed, depending
on the type of aircraft, will be about 45 knots and the vertical
descent will be about 500 feet per minute. If your model aircraft,
with full flaps extended, causes a descent in excess of 700 feet
per minute, use the one -half flap setting. Turn the fuel valve
off. Then turn on your ELT, if you can and also turn on
all your lights to locate soft trees. Put something in front of
your face just before impact. And remember, BROADCAST YOUR
POSITION AND SITUATION ON A FREQUENCY THAT YOU HAVE PREVIOUSLY
DETERMINED WILL PROVIDE THE BEST RECEPTION IN THAT AREA. top
While flying in the
mountains, determine what will be the best frequency to use for
reporting emergencies. The standard emergency frequency, 121.5
MHz, may not always be the best one for the area where you
are flying. An ATC Center frequency that has a remote repeater
or a remote FSS frequency may provide you with a much better means
Also, pay attention
to the CTAF frequencies for the airports along your route.
Many are not monitored, but some are and if you are in the vicinity
of one of these airports, check in on the frequency to ascertain
if there is anyone listening. Also listen to determine if there
are other aircraft in the air or on the ground at those airports
that could hear you if you needed assistance in an emergency.
A cellular telephone
can also be utilized in case of an emergency. If you have a cellular
telephone, also carry it with you while flying in the mountains.
Although reception is sometimes "spotty" more and more areas,
within the mountainous west, are obtaining coverage. Remember
911 works almost everywhere. top