Don’t let the mountain siren lure you

March 26, 2013

Mountain flying can be a captivating adventure along beautiful valleys, over brilliant mountain lakes, and above sprawling icy-blue and -green glaciers as you climb to cross a mountain saddle or circumnavigate a peak—and once again continue the spectacular journey. But along with their beauty, mountains harbor lurking dangers that can snag a flight in one unforgiving moment.

Thorough preparation is extremely critical before attempting to tackle mountain ranges. From learning about local weather patterns or locating the correct mountain pass to carrying appropriate survival gear, you have to be well organized and disciplined to negotiate high terrain. Recently the National Weather Service (NWS) put together an article in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NWS publication “The Front” to provide pilots with precious tips for flights during significant mountain weather. The article was spurred on by a spate of fatal GA accidents taking place in the Wind River Mountains near Riverton, Wyo. Most of the accident flights originated from outlying states, emphasizing the importance for flatlanders and pilots unfamiliar with local and mountainous terrain to become thoroughly familiar with the area’s weather phenomena and to get a mountain flying checkout from a qualified flight instructor before attempting to challenge a mountain ridge.

Read the NWS publication and take the Air Safety Institute Mountain Flying online course to be well-prepared. Granite is unforgiving, and what you don’t know about the rocks you are about to cross can kill you.