Flying in the Mountains

IFR Means I Follow Roads

By Alan Smith

Flying light aircraft in the mountains, especially during the winter months, has its own set of rules. Some are fairly obvious while others are a bit more subtle.

Flying a light plane through rugged mountain territory is done without some of the emergency options a pilot has while crossing the flatlands or wide valleys below. It should be clear, for example, to any pilot as he or she moves through the high peaks and canyons of a mountain range that fields in which he could safely put the airplane in the event of engine failure are few and far between.

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Red Flag: "The First Ten Missions"

By Richard VanderMeulen

Tasked with the SEAD or Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses role an F-16CJ Viper of the 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw AFB, SC bristles with armaments. On the wingtips are a pair of AIM-120 AMRAAMs for use against enemy aircraft, inboard are an AIM-9 Sidewinder for close-in self defense against enemy aircraft on the right wing and an ACMI pod capable of constantly updating the aircraft’s position on the range complex. Further inboard is the primary armament, an AGM-88 HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) used to destroy enemy radar sites. Under the nose is carried a HARM targeting pod and Lantirn laser designator pod for identifying targets at a distance and designating them with a laser for precision guided bombs. (Richard VanderMeulen)

Red Flag tracks its existence and basic format to lessons learned during the Vietnam War, when United States Air Force analysts noted a dramatic drop in mission survivability and dropping success rates among USAF pilots. According to past Red Flag sources, “After Vietnam we figured out that if you survived the first ten missions your chance of survival went up dramatically. Red Flag simulates the first ten missions a pilot flies in combat.” Red Flag however allows pilots to fly those first ten missions in a learning environment where the only missiles they face are represented in computer models and the closest they come to dying is hearing “you’re dead” on the radio.

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Low Flying with the Swift Intruders

By Russ Albertson

Close pass by LCAC 33 (Mel Turner)

“Just because you don’t have wings, doesn’t mean you can’t fly.”  The US Navy’s hovercraft designated the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion) is the perfect example of this.  This machine combines the qualities of a boat and a helicopter. It can hover on land or water, float or fly across the wave tops. 

The LCAC was built to fill the Navy’s need for rapid delivery of men and equipment from ships to shore. This craft can carry up to 75 tons of cargo or vehicles at 60 knots up to the beach and even further inland if needed.  It can fly over wet or marshy ground, and snow and ice or no barriers as long as the surface is fairly flat. 

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New to Flying?

By Ed Downs

Let’s assume the reader of this month’s column is not an aviator, but would like to be.  Perhaps you are a pilot and know of a friend who would like to learn to fly, but just can’t afford it.  Is a Sport Pilot certificate really worth looking into?  Would it be better to simply wait until you can get into private pilot training and be a “real pilot?”  You have a lot of company if those questions are floating around your enthusiastic, but confused head.

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Random Thoughts on Preventing Runway Incursions

By Charles Jackson

Those of us who fly out of Hollister (California) Airport are fortunate to have a very good general aviation airport with a long, wide main runway and a very much needed crosswind runway.

But, like many uncontrolled airports with crossing runways, runway incursions are an ongoing threat, one that must be guarded against constantly. Because of this, a look at our hazards and the precautions we take might be helpful to those flying out of similar airports.

We have quite a mix of traffic – light airplanes coming and going as well as doing flight instruction, fire fighting aircraft, gliders being towed and landing, even a few jets. It can be busy, especially on weekends, and there have been close calls, but so far no runway accidents.

Probably our biggest handicap on this airport is the fact that the approach ends (the ends from which takeoffs begin) of the two runways are not visible from each other due to the hangars on the main ramp. Add to this the fact that the firefighting aircraft, because of their weight, cannot use the crosswind runway for takeoff.

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