Logistics to make it happen: The Hike of a Lifetime: Aspen to Crested Butte

Christine Benedetti writing for Inside Aspen referred to this hike as the "Hike of a Lifetime". The premise is simple hike from Aspen to Crested Butte, or the reverse Crested Butte to Aspen. However the devil is in the details. This hike requires transportation back to the side you started, which means 6+ hours of driving to stage a car and return to the trailhead and then retrieve the car at a later time.

All the driving also causes what would normally be a day trip to become a 2 day event with lodging required at one side or the other.

We have a simpler solution, fly between Aspen and Crested Butte. Start the morning at one side, park the car at the trailhead and take the hike - roughly 4-6 hours. Upon reaching the other side have lunch, catch a cab to the airport. Alpine flight will meet you at the airport, 30 minutes later youll be back at the airport and catch a cab back to your car.

We provide this service both directions in morning as well as the afternoon. In the morning we can take you the opposite side so you can walk back to your car. In the afternoon we take you from a completed hike back to the side that has your car. We can accommodate 1-5 adult passengers at a time depending upon weight, and as many as 6 passengers if several are children, the cost for the transfer is $1700 for the flight regardless of number of passengers.

Give us a call at 970-401-5105 to schedule.

How does one pay for flight training? Financing? Scholarships?

One question I am frequently asked is how does one afford to pay for their flight training.  My short answer is we take Cash, Check and Credit Card.  Kidding aside, no doubt, learning to fly is expensive.  How you view this expenditure can vary depending upon your own plan.  For example, learning to fly purely for fun is much different then learning to fly as a career.

If fun is what you're after then the private license is all you really need.  Plan to spend $10,000-$15,000 spread over 6 months to 2 years in the form of $300-$350 per lesson a couple times a month to get through the program.  If that's totally outside your budget then carefully consider whether you'll have the money to fly after you get your license as well.  If the answer is no then maybe a different hobby is in order.  If the answer is yes then one option is to get a loan through one of the companies below.

For career bound pilots the numbers are larger but since it's for a career there is actually a return on your investment coming back to you, the costs are easier to justify.  To get through all the licenses you'll likely spend $60,000-$70,000 to become employable, and while you can spread that over a decade you'll probably want to get it done quicker so you can secure that new job.  While the $70,000 seems monumental, if flying as a career is something you want to do then the payoff is there and it's in your interest to take a loan to acquire the skills to get a great job. This is no different than any other career anywhere else - consider the cost of the training and consider the earnings.  Beauty School will cost X, you make Y.  Become a Dental Hygienist you'll pay X for training and make Y when you graduate.  Go to school for 12 years and become a Heart Surgeon it will cost you $700K in school, takes 12 Years, but the earnings are very appealing when you get done.  Flying is no different.  Follow your interests and then investigate the COST vs RETURN.  I tend to think the ROI on professional flying is an excellent ratio.

As part of that consideration you should think about how long you intend to fly as a career.  For example a twenty-something has 40 years of flying to look forward to, that equates to a career worth as much as 6-9 million dollars.  Compared to the return of $6-9 million, the $70k in training costs is peanuts.  Meanwhile, if you're celebrating your 58th birthday and your wish is to be an airline pilot, assuming you had all your licenses done in a year, built time your 59th year, you would would have 5 years of flying for airline work remaining, that means a total career earnings of probably $500k, the ROI isn't as appealing.


Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
AOPA offers traditional financing as well as scholarships and tips to start your flying career

Pilot Finance
Pilot Finance will issue loans for primary training or an add-on.  We have worked with many students that used Pilot Finance and had great results.

Lending Tree

Lending Tree will issue loans for flight training.  They may possibly be the best source if you are looking to finance an entire education.


This is just a small sampling of the organizations that have scholarships available.  Keep in mind they usually expect you to have soloed before they will even consider issuing a scholarship, meaning you'll need to be about 50% through training at a minimum.

Colorado Pilots Association

Fly With Amelia Foundation

Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)

National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Scholarships

National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Scholarships

The Ninety-Nines, International Organization of Women Pilots

Tuskegee Airmen Annual Hubert L. ‘Hooks’ Jones Scholarship Award

University Aviation Association (UAA) Scholarship Listing

Women in Aviation, (WAI) International Scholarship Listing

Introduction to Colorado Backcountry Flying

Alpine Flight training is pleased to announce our newest training course. Introduction to Colorado Backcountry Flying.


A review of Alpine Flight by Robert Currie - He passed his private checkride this last sunday!!

A bit of background may help put this review in perspective. I have always loved aviation. As my 65th birthday approached, I knew that it was time to stop dreaming about learning to fly and just start the process. Spending our winters just a one hour drive from the Eagle Airport, a quick internet search popped up Alpine Flight Training. It looked interesting but I also seriously considered going to Scottsdale, Arizona for an intensive course. There are a couple of flight schools at the Scottsdale Airport. They use Cirrus aircraft and promise a private pilot's license in 21 days. There were two issues with this approach in my case. First, 21 days of flight training with two fights per day is a lot. I found that after I flew for two hours, that I was mentally done. Sure, I could have gone back up for a second flight and had the instructor keep me out of trouble. However, I really do not think, that I would have gotten much out of it. Flight instruction should be Fun. Why hurry the process? If you are a twenty something year old student with aspirations for a career in aviation, then maybe a short, intensive training schedule is right for you (Alpine offers a condensed, intensive course). Second, the Cirrus SR 22 is a powerful, sophisticated aircraft. It is meant to be flown fast and has an improving but somewhat troublesome safety record. Yes it has a parachute. However, most student pilots are going to get into trouble close to the ground, where the parachute is of little value. I really wanted the experience of flight at a pace and flight speed, which would give me the greatest opportunity for success. Alpine Flight Training has a Diamond DA 20 C-1, which is a modern carbon fiber, two seat trainer. It has a dependable Continental 125 HP fuel injected engine and is a delight to fly. This was the plane I chose for my training. It is derived from an Austrian sailplane design, with a center stick and a bubble canopy, which provides astounding views. While not hard to fly, you do really need to fly it. Alpine's second airplane used for primary and instrument training is a Piper Archer, which I also learned to fly. The Archer is a more traditional plane with a yoke and certainly is more comfortable for tall pilots and a bit easier to land. Alpine has good airplanes, which are impeccably maintained. Given a safe, appropriate aircraft, the most important thing is to have a good instructor. You are going to spend upwards of 50 to 70 hours with this person and it has to work. Loren French, the owner of Alpine was my primary instructor. I also had the pleasure of flying with Joe, John and Brian during my training. Flying with different instructors is really valuable. The key thing is that all the instructors at Alpine are fascinated by aviation and teach because they love to be in the sky and share their knowledge. These are pilots with years of experience, some still flying commercially with the big airlines, who just want to fly small aircraft in an amazing mountain environment. Many flight schools are filled with young, poorly paid flight instructors, who are are trying to build time for their resume, to fly commercially. The opposite is true at Alpine. My principal instructor, Loren is one of the brighter guys, that I have met. While intelligence does not always equate with the ability to teach, Loren has that gift. I am not going to go into his resume, but suffice to say he knows more about aviation, than most seasoned, professional pilots. What is more important to the student is his extraordinary ability to explain the complex components of flying an aircraft. As he recently told me, each student has a particular hurdle. Some students struggle with the academics, some with the hands on skills and some struggle with decision making or the pressure of being the captain. You are not really going know, what issue will prove the most problematic for you, until you are training. What I can tell you is Loren has an uncanny ability to be firm and encouraging at the same time. This is not easy to do. When your teacher tells you that you really messed up, perhaps in a dangerous way, and then is able to support and encourage you to do better. That's as good as it gets! I loved my training at Alpine and plan to do my IFR and advanced mountain training with them after some experience in my own aircraft. Alpine has great enthusiastic instructors, excellent aircraft and an amazing mountain environment. I can't imagine getting better training anywhere.

Robert Currie


Cliffside Beach Club

Nantucket, MA 02554

Welcome Rusty Henson

Rusty Henson joins Alpine Flight Training this summer from Old Mexico. Learning to fly while an FAA engineer in the 70s, he continued to add airplane and helicopter instructor ratings while flying his beloved “Gladys”, a 1964 Piper Cherokee, to almost every State in the USA and from Nicaragua to the Arctic Circle.
After almost 30 years of flying the Colorado high country he moved to 500-year-old San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato in 2007. There he met a few other aviation “aficiandos” (fans) and together started “Jóvenes Águilas”, the Mexican equivalent of “Young Eagles”, to share his passion for aviation with young people there.
Rusty loves to teach and is happy to be “back in the Valley”, having worked for Vail Associates in the early days of Beaver Creek. Rusty says: ”Learning to fly and learning to fly WELL is the coolest thing you’ll ever do: the places you can go, the things you’ll see, and the people you’ll meet! “
“LET’S GO FLYING!” or, (as we say done south): “¡VAMOS A VOLAR!”

Flight Training Survey - We want your feedback

You trusted us to help you achieve your dream of flying. Now we’d like you to tell us about your flight training experience. We are participating in the Flight Training Experience Survey, and your feedback will help shape the flight training experience for future students.

The Startle Response & Aviation

Surprisingly Relevant topic, considering the typical student response to an open door on takeoff.

Angle of Attack

Angle of Attack The “Angle of Attack” is the angle between a plane’s wing and the oncoming air (relative wind). If the angle of attack becomes too great, the wing can stall and lose lift. If a pilot fails to recognize and correct the situation, a stall could lead to loss of control of the aircraft and an abrupt loss of altitude.

More than 25% of GA accidents occur in the maneuvering phase of flight. Half of those accidents involve stall/spin scenarios. Stalls can happen during any phase of flight, but they are critical when planes are near the ground and have less room to recover, such as during landing and takeoff.

What is an AOA Indicator?

We often discuss stalls with respect to airspeed and that can be a problem. Part of that problem is that stall speed changes with the aircraft’s configuration (e.g., cruise, landing, etc.) Also, as an aircraft’s load or weight increases, so does its stall speed. Using an AOA indicator can help prevent a stall as it provides a more reliable indication of airflow over the wing, regardless of its configuration. Without it, AOA is essentially “invisible” to pilots.

An AOA indicator can help when used in conjunction with airspeed and existing stall warning systems, when available. It can be used to get the pilot’s attention (via audio and/or low cost stick shakers) even if the pilot is not looking at it. This focuses the pilot’s attention on where it needs to be to avoid the stall.

How Can I Equip with an AOA Indicator?

AOA indicators have recently become more available and affordable for GA aircraft. The FAA’s Small Airplane Directorate has helped with this by streamlining the process for production and retrofit approval of AOA devices.

A New Angle on Safety

AOA systems offer many benefits to safe flying so consider looking into one for the aircraft you own or fly. And if you do install one, make sure you’re familiar with its operation and limitations. It’s also a good idea to keep your skills sharp through practice of stalls and slow flight as well as pattern and instrument work with a CFI. Be sure to document your achievement in the Wings Proficiency Program too. It’s a great way to stay on top of your game.


FAA news release on streamlining the AOA installation process for small aircraft: http://go.usa.gov/cgu2Y

FAA policy on AOA installation: http://go.usa.gov/cgu95

Safety Enhancement Fact Sheet on AOA Systems: http://go.usa.gov/cgu8w

FAA Airplane Flying Handbook — Engine Inoperative Flight Principles for Multiengine Airplanes (Chap 12, pgs 23-31): http://go.usa.gov/cguEQ

“A Finesse for Vitesse: Mastering the Maze of V-speeds” May/June 2015 FAA Safety Briefing www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing/2015/media/MayJun2015.pdf

Vmc Training - Multi-Engine

Alpine Flight Training provides all levels of multi-engine training. Vmc training is a standard part of our training curriculum.

What is Vmc?
Familiar to pilots of multi-engine aircraft, Vmc is the speed below which aircraft control cannot be maintained if the critical engine fails under a specific set of circumstances (see 14 CFR part 23). It is marked as a red radial line on most airspeed indicators. The blue line that’s found on many (but not all) multi-engine airspeed indicators is the Best Single Engine Rate of Climb Speed. It’s good to be at or above this speed whenever possible to give you some climb performance if an engine should fail. Vmc only addresses directional control.

What’s So Critical About It?
While you could argue both engines of a multi-engine airplane are important, the laws of physics dictate that losing a particular engine will make maintaining directional control more challenging. Any engine failure on a multi-engine airplane will result in a yaw toward the inoperative engine, but if the critical engine fails, the yaw forces will be greater due to P-factor. Engines that rotate clockwise from the pilot’s perspective (like most U.S. aircraft) will produce greater thrust on the descending propeller blades when the aircraft is flown at a positive angle of attack. Because there is a longer moment arm associated with the right engine, the yaw will be harder to manage if the left engine fails.

Practice Makes Perfect
Too often pilots will practice Vmc before their checkride, but may fall short in experience and skill when a real-world situation strikes. To stay fresh on engine failure procedures, get with an instructor and practice a Vmc demo or two. It’ll also give you chance to review some of the unsuspected conditions that can easily make a Vmc situation worse, like an aft CG, retracted gear, and/or holding wings level.

Maneuvering Flight

More than 25 percent of general aviation fatal accidents occur during the maneuvering phase of flight — turning, climbing, or descending close to the ground. The vast majority of these accidents involve stall/spin scenarios (half of which are while in the traffic pattern) and buzzing attempts.

The majority of fatal stall/spin accidents occur at low altitudes, when recovery is unlikely. A pilot can stall an aircraft at any flight attitude and at any airspeed. Try practicing stalls, or approaches to stalls, at a safe altitude with an experienced instructor. Remember that turns, either vertical (pull-ups) or horizontal, load the wings and increase the stall speed dramatically. A key antidote to maneuvering flight accidents in the pattern is being aware of stall/spin aerodynamics.
Target Fixation
Every pilot has practiced turns around a point to build skill in wind compensation, aircraft ground track control, orientation, and division of attention. However, stall recovery while turning around a point at the altitudes typically used for ground reference can be dangerously close to the ground. They’re called moose stalls in Alaska and coyote stalls in Arizona because the pilot is focused more on the target point than turning the plane.

Formation Flying
Routinely performed for aerial photography, it’s critical to know the pilot you’re flying alongside. A miscommunication or lack of skill can be deadly.

Buzzing your friend’s house to show off your piloting skills is never a good idea. It’s reckless, and it may likely end in a violent angle-of-attack (AoA) stall. It will not be the type of stall with minor altitude loss that you experienced in training.