the psychology of mountain flying
True mountain flying—that
is, terrain, contour or drainage flying, as opposed to flying well above
the mountains—can be done with total safety only when the pilot becomes
conditioned to apply the basic premised during flight, without having to
think about them.
Always remain in a position where you can turn
toward lowering terrain.
This axiom also
encompasses the idea that you will not enter or fly in a canyon where
there is not sufficient room to turn around. Another way of stating this
truth is to have an escape route in mind and be in a position to exercise
Do not fly beyond the point of no return.
This is the position when
flying upslope terrain where, if you reduce the throttle to idle and
begin a normal glide, you will have sufficient altitude to turn around
without impacting the terrain.
where you are and decide if you can lose altitude before having to turn
the airplane. If not, you are narrowing your options substantially.
What happens when the
pilot flies beyond the point of no return? First, and usually the less
serious consequence, involves landing the airplane straight ahead into
whatever terrain exists. This normally results in destruction of the
aircraft, but with proper technique the occupants will survive. Proper
technique means the airspeed is maintained to allow transition to a
normal landing attitude (often upslope terrain) without stalling the
The second outcome of
flying beyond the point of no return involves the stall-spin accident.
Because there is insufficient altitude or manoeuvring space to complete
the turn around, the pilot may try to hurry the turn with excessive
bottom rudder, thus yawing the airplane. This induces a stall-spin.
It is necessary for you to constantly think about the axioms of flight
until you become conditioned to unconsciously remain in a position where
you can turn toward lowering terrain and never fly beyond the point of no