Mountain Checkout

Mountain Checkout / Mountain Flying

Due to the unique set of challenges encountered, it's a good idea to do a mountain checkout before flying as PIC in the mountains, deserts, and other remote or challenging areas. WVFC requires a Mountain Checkout before members are allowed to take club aircraft into the mountains.

The outline below serves as a framework for a mountain checkout. The ground portion usually take approximately 2-4 hours, depending on your background and experience, and your success at completing the prescribed reading ahead of time. The flight portion typically takes all day, and includes approximately 5 hours of flight time. We usually get lunch at someplace interesting along the way.

It is best to do the ground portion in a separate session days in advance of the flight portion. You should schedule 2.5-4 hours for the ground session (depending on your experience), and a full day (0800-1900) for the flight portion. The day of the flight usually starts with a thorough flight briefing and review of the flight plan — and possible rework — in light of the current conditions and forecast.

On the day of your mountain checkout flight, don't forget to bring the various recommended items (below) with you. And when you preflight your aircraft, be mindful of aircraft weight and do not automatically "top off the tanks for a long flight." In many cases, we will want no more fuel than "to the tabs" before departure (yet within safety margins, including appropriate reserves). Our goal is to arrive in the mountains at or below 90% of our maximum gross weight for the aircraft.

Reading and References (read before ground session)

Discussion Topics (for ground and flight sessions)

VFR, IFR, and Night Flying

Aircraft Performance Issues

Cessna C172SP

Cessna C182T

Cirrus SR20

Cirrus SR22

Climb Performance Factors

Since weight, altitude and configuration changes affect excess thrust and power, they also affect climb performance. Climb performance is directly dependent upon the ability to produce either excess thrust or excess power. Earlier in the book it was shown that an increase in weight, an increase in altitude, lowering the landing gear, or lowering the flaps all decrease both excess thrust and excess power for all aircraft. Therefore, maximum AOC and maximum ROC performance decreases under any of these conditions.



Additional Hazards

Emergency / Rescue Issues

Poor Communication Issues

Altitude and Physiology

Pre-flight briefing for each airport of intended use

For each airport of intended use (including possible alternates) read all available information, including chart supplement entry, ForeFlight comments and remarks, airport-specific web pages (often related to the local municipality), etc. You goal is to learn of any hazards, limitations, conventions, recommendations, reporting points, contact information, etc. relevant to each specific airport. In particular, be alert for: