Learning to fly in the winter

I am frequently asked what the best season is to learn to fly. Often I see people that want to learn to fly put it off because they think winter is a bad time to fly.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Winter is an incredible time of year. The cold air means dense air, and that means great performance from our airplanes. The planes climb faster, cruise faster and the engine cooling issues of the summer vanish. It's true, the occasional winter storm grounds us, but that's no different then the thunderstorms that ground us throughout the summer. Even with the winter storms, we can still fly on average six out of every 7 days.

What's more, winter creates an incredible winter landscape. One of the most incredible sights is flying over the snow covered rocky mountains under clear skies and a full moon.

Here in the Rockies, every season presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities Flight training in the spring often brings good weather and brisk winds. Training in the summer is marked by beautiful mornings and warm weather that later turns to afternoon thunderstorms. In the fall we see the beginning of winter storms, but great fall colors and many smooth days. And finally, in the winter we have an incredible landscape, ample smooth flying days.

No matter what the season, it's always a great season to learn to fly in the Colorado Rockies. To learn more about flight instruction call one of our instructors at Eagle Airport

Learn to Fly in Glenwood Springs Colorado

Glenwood Springs Colorado is a great place to learn to fly.  You get a blend of aviation old and new.  The Glenwood Springs Airport, located a couple miles south of town is a small 3300 foot runway that shows you the way airports used to be.  One of the great things about Glenwood however is there are the larger more modern airport Eagle located just 10 minutes away.  A new student learning to fly has tremendous opportunity in Glenwood Springs.  They can learn to navigate to and from a true mountain airport like Glenwood, but still be able to learn about tower communications, controlled airspace, and have a 9000 foot long runway that is ample wide to practice landings on.

Alpine Flight Training provides flight training and flight instruction at the Glenwood Springs airport for Private and Instrument ratings.  If you have ever wanted to learn to fly, start now.  Give our knowledgeable instructors a call and we will schedule an introductory flight today.  (970) 401-5105


A great show... Wings and Wheels 2011

This weekend we had a great turnout for Wings and Wheels.  Not only were there more cars, more plane, and more exhibits, but also more visitors and the ramp was bustling with activity.  A job well done goes to the Vail Valley Jet Center for putting together a spectacular event and well organized.  Below is a photo our our booth that was beside the Challenger 300 that people could look inside.

2nd Annual Wheels and Wings this Weekend

Come visit the 2nd annual Wheels and Wings show this saturday at Eagle airport. Alpine Flight Training will be there with an aicraft on display.

Second Annual Wheels and Wings Show, September 10-11, 2011

The most comprehensive auto, aircraft and motorcycle show in Western Colorado, the Wheels and Wings Show features an unparalleled display of machinery.  With over 200 cars, 30 airplanes and other aircraft and 30 motorcycles, the 2011 show will amaze, entertain and blow you away.

10 am  Gates open to the public
10 am to 12pm  Aircraft, car and motorcycle judging
10:15 am Helicopter and Airplane rides commence
12:30 pm Winners are marked with ribbons
1 pm Winners are lined up for presentation
1:30 pm Award Ceremony
2:30 pm Last helicopter and airplane rides
3 pm Gates close

Cross Country in a Diamond DA-20

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.

Mountain Flying: Planning Summer Mountain Flights

This last weekend I was at the Glenwood Springs airport where I witnessed a takeoff that could have easily ended in tragedy. This particular incident made me think back to another incident several years earlier that was very tragic indeed where lack of flight planning resulted in a child burned to death on the side of a mountain in the wreckage of a small plane crash. This particular crash actually killed 2 of the four passengers, one being a child and the other being his father. The irony of this wreak was that it was an airplane in perfect working order, had plenty of fuel, and was being flown on a perfect sunny cloudless day here in Colorado.

We frequently hear about complacency with relation to flying. The tendency of course is that as pilots get more and more time under their belts, they tend to become complacent with regards to the operation of their aircraft. We see this in all aspects, from planning, to preflight, and right on into flight operations.

I see it everyday, pilots becoming lazy… not flying with precision of altitude and heading, not scanning for traffic as intently as they had when they first got licensed. What used to be a thorough preflight becomes a brief walk around. Of course no single aspect seems to fade more than the flight planning process. What was once a well prepared flight plan seems to go away entirely.

During our mountain flight training I often fly with pilots that have been flying for years if not decades. I usually begin each flight with what did flight service say? It’s amazing how many pilots will not hesitate to hop in the plane without even so much as a weather check. This is problem for a variety of reasons, which I will get into. But even if you think you know and understand the weather in your local area and you’re only staying in the pattern it’s still smart to see what’s happening with temporary flight restrictions.

Lack of flight planning is an even larger issue when flying in the mountains. Thinner air means operating much closer to the airplane performance limit. With both the incident that nearly occurred this weekend as well as the wreak I referred to, the issue was the same. The pilot’s failure to do any type of planning and subsequent failure to understand the performance limitations of their aircraft.

In the case of the wreak, the pilot departed Eagle Airport with full fuel and 4 passengers and tried to fly direct to Salt Lake. The only problem, it was high density altitude and the aircraft simply could not deliver the climb performance needed to fly direct. The missing ingredient… planning. A thorough planning would have revealed the aircraft’s inability to fly direct over a 13,000 foot mountain, and the result of the planning would have been either a lighter fuel load or a different route.

The incident I watched nearly unfold was all too similar. Without thinking (or rather any planning), a pilot of a normally aspirated ’74 Arrow topped off the tanks, and him and his passenger took off. They got in the air with only a couple feet remaining of runway and cleared the trees at the end with only a couple feet of clearance. Had they consulted the POH and some some basic performance calcs they would have known they were on the very edge of their aircraft performance.