Mountain Flying Instruction, Resources and Seminars

A great online resource for Mountain Flying

I frequently get e-mails asking for recommendations on the best books, online training and videos for the topic of mountain flying.  Usually, whenever I schedule a student for the training they also ask... "Should I read anything before I come?"

In terms of books, Sparky Emerson has a couple great books, excellent detail.  If you read his series of books on the topic you'll be well versed.  If you don't have the time available then another resource I can't promote enough is the AOPA Air Safety Foundation online Mountain Flying Course.

This online course is fantastic.  What's better, it can be completed in several hours.  While it does not take the place of an in depth study, this online course is an excellent way to prepare for a mountain training course or a way to refresh your knowledge prior to mountain flight.

Of course the best training is by doing, and Alpine Flight Training provides mountain flying seminars of 1 and 2 days in length to give you the practical real-world experience of flying in the mountains.  Call for more information at 970-401-5105

See Also

Mountain Flying Instruction

Mountain Flying Course in the Heart of the Colorado Rockies

Mountain Flying in Colorado 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.

Call and talk to the instructors at Alpine Flight Training. 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. For this reason we don't have a set training syllabus, however the 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

Mountain Flying Strategy

  • Flight Planning
  • Navigation Strategies

Takeoff & Landing

  • Determining Density Altitude
  • Takoff and & Landing Performance
  • Climb Performance
  • Takeoff Startegy...Ground Effect? Flaps?
  • Engine Cooling Issues
  • Cross Wind Review
  • Runway Gradient & Effect on TO/Land
  • Constricted Approches
  • 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.

Flight Training Requirements | Vail Colorado Flight Lessons

Here at our flight School in Vail Colorado at the Eagle Airport I am often asked, How long does it take to learn to fly?

Probably one of the most common reasons people don’t learn to fly is because they don’t understand the difficulty, costs or time commitments required for the endeavor.  Usually, would-be students are driven away from learning to fly because they believe the process will take years of rigorous training.  In reality, learning to fly a plane is perhaps just a little difficult than learning to drive a car.

Consider the following example…

Take an average teenager that’s getting ready to get a driver’s license.  First they would get a learner’s permit.  Next they would spend time with mom or dad driving in parking lots, then on secondary streets, and working their way up to interstate highways.  How many hours will this person drive with mom or dad before they are allowed to drive by themselves?  Some states require as much as 50 logged hours before they can get a license.  Other states don’t have a minimum; however most responsible parents will spend 30-40 hours before letting their child “take the car.”  Some teens/parents will drive together for a full year together, taking as much as 200-300 hours before they get a driver’s license.

Now consider learning to fly.  A student will generally Solo after 7-15 hours of dual instruction, and 6-8 lessons.  After generally 30 hours of dual instruction a student is prepared for a private pilot check ride.  Combine that 30 hours of dual with another 15-20 hours of supervised solo practice (a concept that isn’t replicated in the auto learning process) then the student is ready to get a license.

In both the case of the pilot and the driver there were necessary studies of the “rules of the road.”  In both cases there was a written test.  Both scenarios involved some form of medical evaluation, the pilot’s being slightly more thorough.

So there you have it, generally speaking it takes about the same amount time and effort to train a pilot as it does to train a competent driver.  The steps are similar, and the time required is similar.  Most of you might respond that it is easier to learn to drive because driving is intuitive.  There is some truth to that, but consider; by the time the teen age student driver is 15, they have spend 15 years watching mom and dad drive.  On day 1 of their lessons, the teen already has significant knowledge of the vehicle and environment.  If you want to think this through a little further then consider using two students that have never seen a car or a plane.  Which would learn their vehicle first, the student pilot or the student driver.

If you're interested in learning to fly, come in for an intro flight.  We're located at Eagle County Regional Airport, a short drive from Glenwood, Vail, Eagle, Gypsum, Edwards, Minturn, Avon.  Call 970-401-5105 for more information.

Flight Lessons in Vail Colorado, Eagle Airport

Learn to fly in the mountains at the Eagle Airport, located near Vail Colorado
Whether you are learning to fly for the first time, or simply looking to add mountain flying to your skill set, Alpine Flight Training located at Eagle Airport can help.  Alpine Flight Training offers private pilot ground and flight training as well as instrument training at the Eagle County Regional Airport located in Eagle Colorado.  Our training features a Diamond DA-20 Eclipse, one of the safest training aircraft in the industry, The DA-20 is the primary choice of flight schools through the nation as well as the training airplane for the US Air Force initial flight screening program.

If you are looking to lean more about Mountain Flying, Call and talk to the instructors at Alpine Flight Training. 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.

Our location at Eagle County Regional Airport is ideal for new pilot training and a convenient drive from Vail, Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Minturn, Avon, and Gypsum, Colorado.  Students learning to fly at Eagle Airport will learn mountain flying first hand from our team of professional instructors.  Our proximity from Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Steamboat Springs provides our students with a diverse selection of airports and challenges ideal for learning safe mountain flying.  Learn more about Alpine Flight Training by visiting our website or call us today at 970-401-5105.

Alpine Flight Training is conveniently located at the Eagle County Regional Airport.  We a re a short driving distance and the best location of choice for leaning to fly in the Vail Valley, Vail, Beaver Creek, Gypsum, Minturn, Eagle, Avon, and Edwards.

Cross Country Flying to Colorado Mountains

Take a quick 5 minute journey from Baltimore Maryland across the USA to the Colorado Rockies

I recently had the opportunity to reposition our Diamond DA-20 from Baltimore Maryland to the Colorado Rockies.  This is a neat little video, traveling over the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia, through Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and right into the Colorado Rockies, ultimately landing in Eagle Colorado.

As the video progresses you'll see the air get clearer and clearer - the haze of the moisture layer from Missouri disappears as we get into Kansas. As we reach Colorado the air is crystal clear and the view is vibrant. The flight through the mountains is probably the best of the footage. As I crossed over Leadville, the density altitude at the field was 12,800, at 13,500 where we were cruising the density altitude as well over 16,000 feet.

If you have interest in flying through the Rockies as we did in this video then I suggest getting formal mountain flying training from a local company like Alpine Flight Training - 970-401-5105.

Colorado Flight Instruction : Demand for airline pilots set to soar

Begin your flight instruction today at Eagle County Regional Airport... Here is an interesting article from USA Today regarding the future of Pilot Hiring.  I'm guessing this is a good time to learn to fly in order to position yourself for this upcoming hiring frenzy.

After nearly a four-year drought of job openings, the airline industry is on the brink of what's predicted to be the biggest surge in pilot hiring in history. Aircraft maker Boeing has forecast a need for 466,650 more commercial pilots by 2029 — an average of 23,300 new pilots a year. Nearly 40% of the openings will be to meet the soaring travel market in the Asia-Pacific region, Boeing predicts, but more than 97,000 will be in North America.

"It is a dramatic turnaround," says Louis Smith, president of, a website that provides career and financial planning for pilots. "Pilot hiring was severely depressed in the last three years. The next 10 years will be the exact opposite, with the longest and largest pilot hiring boom in the history of the industry."

The demand for pilots will be so great that the industry could ultimately face a shortage, sparking fierce competition among airlines across the globe vying for candidates qualified to fill their cockpits.

"We're already seeing in some spots around the world a shortage of pilots … and if you were watching this a few years ago at the last peak, you had airlines stealing from other airlines," says Sherry Carbary, vice president of flight services for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle. "It's a global marketplace for pilots, and … we'll not have enough if that growth trend continues over the next few years. That's something the industry needs to come to grips with. Where is our pipeline of new pilots going to come from, and how are we going to finance them?"

The hiring surge is being fueled by several factors:

•The rapid growth of travel in Asia, which is on track to surpass North America as the largest air travel market in the world;

•A looming wave of pilot retirements in the USA;

•Proposed changes to rules that could increase the time pilots must train, rest and work;

•And increasing demand for air travel within the USA as the economy improves.

U.S. carriers had 4.9% more pilots in 2010 than in 2009, with much of the increase fueled by low-cost carriers that are continuing to expand, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Low-cost airlines such as Southwest, Virgin America and AirTran increased their pilot staffing 11.2% in 2010 over 2009, while regional carriers increased their pilot numbers by 4.9%. Major network airlines, however, saw their pilot workforce drop 1.3% last year, the bureau says.

"The cost of the fuel has spooked a few carriers," Smith says, noting that the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan have also had some impact. But, he says, the industry-wide hiring explosion is "still on track."

See Also

  • USA Today
    Nice article about airline pilot hiring.

Vail Valley Jet Center Flight Instruction

Alpine Flight Training has moved into their new offices as the Vail Valley Jet Center located in Hangar 1.  The Vail Valley Jet Center is the Primary FBO for Eagle County Regional Airport.  Our new facility offers a classroom, FAA Certified FTD (Flight Training Device) that can be used to accumulate training time towards an instrument rating, and a heated hangar for your preflight inspection.  If you want to learn more about the flight instruction services we offer please call us today at (970) 401-5105.

Eagle County Regional Airport is the ideal place to learn to fly.  The large runway and air traffic control services provided at Eagle County Regional increase the level of safety for students.  Our local surrounding airports of Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Aspen help to create a diverse training environment ideal for instructing new pilots.  Alpine Flight Training offers Private Pilot, Instrument Ratings, Commercial Ratings as well as instruction for Certified Flight Instructor and Instrument Instructor applicants.

Alpine Flight Flight Instruction at Eagle County Regional Airport -  flight instruction in the Central Colorado Rockies and Western Slope of Colorado.  Close proximity to Leadville, Vail, Edwards, Eagle, Gypsum, Avon, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Aspen