Being a full time mountain pilot, the one thing I can tell you is we flight plan like crazy. Then we toss it out and go fly. In reality my flight planning is simple. I look to confirm wx wont sock me in. I look to see if we can get there based on fuel needs first, then on cargo weights. Next is winds. Winds at the airport mean nothing. I look at winds from 9000 and up. This is what will tell me somewhat what to expect in the high country. Wind is my absolute friend up there...to a point. Last I want to know my temps now, and expected high for the day. I may look at the altimeter as a factor but it has so little to do with my absolutes that its like a small high five with high pressure, and a ehhh we will watch power if its low pressure.
In flight we do a power check in hover prior to take off to see what a solid surface IGE is giving us for margin. If we are concerned that we could struggle, then a max performance takeoff will show you further limits on power checks.
Backing up to winds. An above post said winds will not let you hover well OGE due to turbulence? .....ohhh kay, well stay off the leeward side of terrain and it wont be an issue. Wind is our friend, like high water flow is to a kayaker. Mountain winds and high waters work exactly the same way too. Winds allow the aircraft to stay in ETL, reducing required power needed and at times I have hovered at 11k ft due to winds helping. This has been done in both R44s and 206b3s. When your hovering completely still at 14 MAP in an R44 at 11k feet to get good film shots of high altitude wildlife....you cannot tell me winds are making it harder.
You need to realize there are ways to work winds in mountains that help you, and there are ways it will kill you. Stay on the windward sides. Avoid leeward sides. Winds compress against terrain like water does on rocks in a river. The windward side is smoother, provides tremendous lift, and reduces power when you stay tight to the mountain.(within 300-500 ft AGL) when you get above that mountain, or beyond the ridge on the leeward side, winds begin to roll, tumble, churn. Just like water does on the backside of boulders in a white water river.
If I see dead calm winds in flight planning...high altitude work must be reconsidered or extremely well planned to ensure safe margins up there. Winds 10-40 kts make life easy up there. Winds above 40 kts make it a bit harder to manage, and in some cases may inhibit safe operations all together. Usually though the later is a call decided by the pilot based on their personal skill limitations. Time will expand your capabilities but always back off if your unsure, because wind will kill you fast if your not doing things right in high country.
When you talk about this said mountain at 3500 feet? Your still in flat country son.
just ribbin ya.
Seriously we take off daily from 4500 feet at home base, and operate over 10k very regularly. If you want to come do some serious training, call me sometime, we offer mountain courses for those who need some experience.
Edit: I forgot to talk about the power checks. A great way to check available power margins is to get to the altitude your headed for, out in the open where you have outs, and pull into an OGE hover. See if it will hang there or if it drops or rotor droops right away. If the ship hangs there a bit or settles very slowly, staying in ETL on appraoch to your LZ using updraft winds will give you a very safe margin. If she falls immediately due to lack of power, then the chances of settling into the terrain as you loose ETL are a pretty solid reality. Its basic power check steps like this combined with good wind awareness and temps that make you into a safe pilot. Cold windy days are far better than calm hot ones.
Edited by WolftalonID, 09 December 2017 - 11:01.
Sometimes we think we know it all....only later to discover we only knew all we had learned. Never stop learning.