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Questions and Answers: Mountain Flying Tips for a 172 Pilot

Written by Steve Ells
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December 2012

 Q: Hi 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 British Columbia 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.

I am the proud owner of a 1985 Cessna 172P and I plan to pack it with a tent, sleeping bag and some emergency gear. I’m an experienced camper and have been dreaming about this trip; I’m looking forward to the smell of bacon flying and coffee perking as I watch the morning sun crawl down across the western mountains.

What I am unsure of is this: Will my 172 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 system before I go. He says it’s the best instrument I can have for mountain flying. What do you think?

—Big Tripper

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