Mountain Flying Leadville


There are a couple iconic mountain airports in Colorado that are well worth the effort to visit. As part of our mountain training we frequently visit these airports, among them is Leadville.

Thin air, turbulence, and gusty winds can make any mountain airport challenging for takeoff and landing, but Leadville, Colorado is exceptionally demanding. At 9,927 feet above sea level, Leadville is the very highest airport in the United States. The air is thinner than all but one other mountain airport, creating two problems. When an engine operates thinner air it puts out less power and the plane accelerates more slowly to takeoff speed. Compounding this problem, thin air provides less lifting force on the wing so you need a significantly higher takeoff speed than at sea level. Between these two problems, you can run out of runway before you reach takeoff speed, with obvious, dire consequences. For this reason, pilots must consult performance tables determining the required runway length before undertaking a flight.

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