Mountain Flying


A sign posted at North America’s Highest Airport

Have you ever wanted to venture into the mountains with your airplane, but worried that you may not be ready for the challenge? If you want to fly in the mountains, the best idea is to get some mountain flight instruction from a qualified flight instruction that specializes in mountain flying. The team of instructors at Alpine Flight Instruction can provide just that training.

Central Colorado offers incredible natural beauty, from desert mesas to snow-capped 14,000 ft peaks. This landscape also presents a wide variety of challenges for all pilot experience levels. Narrow and sloping runways, one-way airports, density altitudes in excess of 10,000 ft and difficult-to-predict mountain wave will test your decision-making abilities and skills as a pilot.

Safe and enjoyable flying in the mountains requires the right perspective, solid understanding of aircraft performance, the operating environment and most importantly, your abilities as a pilot. The proficient mountain pilot will carefully assess each of these factors when planning a mountain flight.

Mountain Training Plans

Call and talk to the instructors at Alpine Flight School. We will build a training plan ideally suited to any pilot’s skill level and experience. Our instructors can provide mountain training in our rental aircraft or in your own aircraft. Additionally, we can arrange to meet you at an airport east or west of the Rockies on the way from where you are coming from.

Instinct and Intuition – A Recipe for Disaster

In the course of going through the most basic pilot training many of us learn that control inputs based on instinct or intuition are often wrong. Some examples of this are the graveyard spiral or recovery from a spin. In the case of each, the natural thing to do is not the correct thing to do. Mountain Flying is very similar, in that the natural and intuitive strategy does not always equate to a good strategy.

The goal of our mountain flight training is to help you develop a different perspective with regards to navigating your aircraft through the mountains. This new perspective will help you develop conditioned responses to keep your aircraft safe as you navigate the mountains. The basic premise is simple….(1) stay in a position to turn to lowering terrain and (2) never fly past the point of no return. While these rules seem simple enough, it takes some practice to develop them into conditioned responses. This conditioning takes time and effort, that is, practice with an experienced mountain pilot. It is not something you go out and do once or twice and figure you have “it.” But it is something you can be aware of so that you condition yourself. Keep repeating the rules to yourself, “Stay in a position to turn to lower terrain,” while constantly evaluating the flight situation.

Redefining Aircraft Performance and Weather

The second really large area we focus our time on when teaching mountain flying is related to the areas of aircraft performance and weather. With regards to the topics of aircraft performance and weather the goal is to thoroughly review the knowledge areas, and focus specifically on how they apply to mountain flying. Additionally, we’ll show you some techniques you can use to improve your flying specifically related to aircraft performance and weather.

Mountain Flying Syllabus
Our mountain flying training is custom tailored to each pilot. Every pilot is different is terms of what they plan to do, and the sort of aircraft they are using, as a result every mountain flying training session is a little different. This training syllabus below will provide an overview of many of the topics we cover during mountain flight training. The goal of this course is to provide the pilot with the basic tools of knowledge, skill and judgment to fly safely in mountainous terrain, while having a challenging and rewarding experience.

Course Outline

Key Tactical & Strategic Skills

  • Terrain Flying
  • Route Selection
  • Performance & Engine Management
  • Mountain Weather
  • Survival

Mountain Flying Strategy

  • Flight Planning
  • Navigation Strategies

Takeoff & Landing

  • Determining Density Altitude
  • Takeoff and & Landing Performance
  • Climb Performance
  • Takeoff Strategy…Ground Effect? Flaps?
  • Engine Cooling Issues
  • Cross Wind Review
  • Runway Gradient & Effect on TO/Land
  • Constricted Approaches
  • Determining Wind Direction and Intensity
  • Proper Techniques for Leaning

Flying through Rugged Terrain

  • Box Canyons
  • Canyon/Valley Turns
  • Evaluating and Crossing Ridges & Plateaus
  • Weather Factors

Mountain Weather

  • Circulation & Pressure Patterns
  • Orographic / Solar Effects
  • Winds and Mountain Wave
  • Diurnal Effect
  • Turbulence


  • Precautionary and Forced Landings
  • Surveying Landing Sites
  • Survival Planning

Practice at Mountain Airports

  • Leadville, Aspen, Telluride, Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, Meeker, Grandby, Gunnison, Salida, and others depending upon student’s interest.

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