Bush Flying Recommendations and Tips

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May 2012

Here’s the first test to see if you’re ready for backcountry (bush) flying. Dig out the Pilot Owners Handbook or Owner’s Manual for your airplane. Look up the minimum distance required to do a short field takeoff. Add in all the variables—air temperature, surface, density altitude, runway slope—to come up with a “book” distance. Then imagine that your life depends on your ability to get off a remote airstrip in the book distance. Fly a series of test flights to see if you can get off the ground in that distance. This is the first step in flying “scientifically”—gathering data appropriate to your airplane and your skill level.

If you can’t pull it off the first time you try, you’re not alone. Skills atrophy during winter layoffs. Perhaps you’re just not yet ready. It’s very likely that you don’t really know the numbers for your airplane.

Pilots that can’t maintain speeds within a couple of knots and/or aren’t comfortable flying close to the ground in unwelcoming terrain have a ways to go before they’re ready to tackle landing strips that require “on the edge” flying.  On-the-edge flying means flying final at speeds as low as 1.1 Vso.

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