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Questions and Answers: Mountain Flying Tips for a Cherokee Pilot

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December 2012 - 

Remember that an aircraft wing always stalls at one angle of attack, but can stall at any airspeed.

Q: Dear Steve,

I’m in the fourth quarter of the game, age-wise, and have decided that it’s now or never! I’m planning a once-in-a-lifetime flying trip around the western United States and up into Canada next year. All of my flying—I have logged 880 hours over the last eight years—has been east of the Rockies. I’ve never flown in mountainous terrain.

My airplane is a Cherokee 180D and I’m going to pack it with a tent, sleeping bag and some emergency gear. I’m an experienced camper. I’ve been dreaming about this trip; I’m looking forward to seeing the sun’s rays crawl down across the western mountains.

What I am unsure of is this: Does my Cherokee perform well enough to safely fly in the western mountains, and does it have enough performance to get in and out of mountain strips?

A pretty experienced pilot here says I should install an angle of attack gauge before I go. He says it’s the best instrument I can have for mountain flying. What do you think?

And can you give me some advice on things to do before I go that will help me fly safely?

—Big Tripper

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