Mountain Flying

I’ve been doing some mountain flight training in an area southwest of Carson City, NV.  Mountain flying in helicopters requires good performance planning as well as an understanding of the effects of wind, weather, and the of course the lack of O²!  I currently use the ForeFlight™ app on my iPad retina mini for flight planning, en route navigation, and situational awareness.  I’m a big fan of ForeFlight™; check out this screen shot.  foreflight

When you are in flight the symbol ForeFlight™ provides for your aircraft is an airplane, helicopter, or some other symbol (the symbol is user selectable).  I usually use a helicopter but in this case my position is just a blue dot.  This is because I’m not moving.  Yep, just landed at about 11,500′.  Depending on the source the highest airport in the world is in Tibet at about 14,219′ with a runway over 14,000 feet long.   But 11,500′ is still pretty high.  I have landed at higher elevations but this 11.5K spot is about the highest we can use in this area.

DSC00661Here is a photo of one of my passengers at 11,500′.  It was about -7 degrees at the time.  I like to use a mountain flying technique of approaching the landing site on the windward side.  This puts the helicopter in smoother up flowing air.  The up flow (updraft) requires less power.  I then make passes at 40 knots to discover which direction provides a headwind.  I let the aircraft crab into the wind and continue into the landing site all the while keeping power applied.  This technique allows the pilot to approach with power in a controlled manner while providing an escape route into the wind and up flow.  Great training and great fun!

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