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Logging Mountain Time


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Hey guys, this has probably been breached before but I've heard a couple of different ideas on the subject and wanted to get some more opinions as I have had a couple of students ask about this. As far as logging mountain time....what do you guys think is a good definition of mountain flying? I have heard job postings reference FAR 95.11 as mountain time. One person's idea of mountain flying could be flying in 1,500 ft mountains that ascend from sea level 2 miles away. Another person's mountain flying could be flying at 10,000 MSL surrounded by 12,000 ft peaks. It seems to me like they would both deal with mountain wave, winds, turbulence, and performance problems. I'm just wondering what employers look for in mountain flying experience. A lot of people are caught up in the idea that just because they operate at more than 5,000 MSL (which I do) they are automatically logging mountain time, and I think that is absurd. I think you actually have to breach the mountains and operate in them. Any thoughts?

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I've got a number of years flying mountainous terrain, and I've never heard of logging "mountain time." It's just flying.

 

How do you meet the requirements for AMD carding then? Special Use categories (Low Level, Bucket, Long Line, Mountain, Aerial Ignition)? You do fight fires don't you? What did you put on your AMD-64D? How do you accumulate that time? How do you keep track of it?

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Hey guys, this has probably been breached before but I've heard a couple of different ideas on the subject and wanted to get some more opinions as I have had a couple of students ask about this.

 

As far as logging mountain time....what do you guys think is a good definition of mountain flying?

 

 

The definition of “Mountain Time” depends mainly on the government agencies set of requirements they want pilots to meet. There could be differences between agencies and contracts within each agency. You need to check for the specific requirements of each contract.

 

The definition has changed over the years; however, it has recently been standardize for most U.S. Government Interagency Contracts, to read as follows:

 

“Mountain Flying - Helicopter Pilot: 200 hours experience operating helicopters in

mountainous terrain identified in 14 CFR 95 Subpart B-Designated Mountainous Area.

Operating includes maneuvering and numerous takeoffs and landings to pinnacles, ridgelines and confined areas.” REF: FSM 5700 - aviation management

 

(Click to enlarge)

 

PagesfromTypeIampll_CWN_2011Contract.jpg

 

The Department of the Interior has a different standard for contract pilots flying Government-owned aircraft. See memorandum below: REF: Department of the Interior

 

(Click to enlarge)

 

OPM11-54_Page_3.jpg

OPM11-54_Page_4.jpg

Edited by iChris
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I got this definition from a job ad.

 

Note 1: Mountain Flying - Helicopter Pilot: 200 hours experience operating helicopters in

 

mountainous terrain identified in 14 CFR 95 Subpart B-Designated Mountainous Area.

 

Operating includes maneuvering and numerous takeoffs and landings to pinnacles, ridgelines

 

and confined areas. Not just enroute time.

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How do you meet the requirements for AMD carding then? Special Use categories (Low Level, Bucket, Long Line, Mountain, Aerial Ignition)? You do fight fires don't you? What did you put on your AMD-64D? How do you accumulate that time? How do you keep track of it?

 

I don't track it.

 

When I fill out the paperwork for my card each year, I'm asked about "typical terrain." I put a ballpark number, which is good enough. There's nothing in my logbook which says "mountain."

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Just be realistic with yourself about it. If you were to take it to an employer, would the logged mountain time be able to pass the "straight face test?" Meaning, if he questioned it would you be able to back it up and be confident in it? Or would you have a smirk on your face because you blantantly exploited a loophole?

 

Flying in part 95 designated mountainous areas and logging it certainly would not. One of my friends recently was told that he could log all our training as mountain since we fly in an area designated mountainous. Flying to, in and from our training area... if he logged that as mountain time, I'd be tempted to smack the stupid out of him. While we are doing pinnacles and confined approaches, I would consider it mountain though, since we have to either dodge terrain (depending on the pinnacle), or are surrounded by it (no openings in trees for us up here, really).

 

Also (this one is debatable), if you're flying in terrain high enough that it affects the patterns of the wind, without takeoff/landing, I MIGHT consider that mountain flying as well. Again, you have to be realistic about it. There's only a handful of areas around here that I would consider it that way, and even those would be a stretch.

 

Tell your students to use their better judgement. Tell them to put themselves in the employers shoes with the time they would consider as mountainous and ask if they would buy it. On the flip side, if your students seem like the type that LOVE to try and cheat the system, don't tell them that. Give them a firm guideline and leave it at that. There is a line, and they'd be better to not end up on the wrong side of it.

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I won't log anything "mountain time" unless I'm actually in the mountains shooting pinnacles to 7,000' peaks or something.

 

Mountains don't need to be a 7,000' to be mountains. Fly in Arkansas; the highest terrain is about three thousand feet ,but it's definitely mountainous in places, and requires all the techniques and practices that one should maintain when flying in mountainous terrain.

 

I work with a gentleman who was badly injured in a helicopter crash, and yesterday we had a long discussion about his mishap. It occured in an area of relatively benign mountains, but in stiff winds, and he ended up languishing in the wreckage for five hours until help could get to him. Don't underestimate a hill, or the terrain, by its size. Density altitude is only part of the picture. Winds, exits, entries, weather, and many other factors must also be considered. Mountains don't lend themselves well to forced landings, in many cases, and they do create wind situations that are unique to the terrain, as well as promoting rapid weather changes, communication difficulties, etc.

 

It's always well to remember that the mountain is far bigger than you are. Treat it accordingly.

 

As for logging it, you could...but I never have. I've never met anyone that has, either. Once you've covered the FAA requirements for logging, what you do in your own logbook is really up to you.

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I don't track it.

 

When I fill out the paperwork for my card each year, I'm asked about "typical terrain." I put a ballpark number, which is good enough. There's nothing in my logbook which says "mountain."

 

Good to know. I've always wondered how that worked. The requirements for carding seem rather daunting. What kind of flying is a good lead up to doing forestry work? Where do fire suppression pilots typically come from?

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Mountains don't need to be a 7,000' to be mountains. Fly in Arkansas; the highest terrain is about three thousand feet ,but it's definitely mountainous in places, and requires all the techniques and practices that one should maintain when flying in mountainous terrain.

 

I work with a gentleman who was badly injured in a helicopter crash, and yesterday we had a long discussion about his mishap. It occured in an area of relatively benign mountains, but in stiff winds, and he ended up languishing in the wreckage for five hours until help could get to him. Don't underestimate a hill, or the terrain, by its size. Density altitude is only part of the picture. Winds, exits, entries, weather, and many other factors must also be considered. Mountains don't lend themselves well to forced landings, in many cases, and they do create wind situations that are unique to the terrain, as well as promoting rapid weather changes, communication difficulties, etc.

 

It's always well to remember that the mountain is far bigger than you are. Treat it accordingly.

 

As for logging it, you could...but I never have. I've never met anyone that has, either. Once you've covered the FAA requirements for logging, what you do in your own logbook is really up to you.

 

So a ballpark figure is enough to get carded? How does this get verified? What is the point of requiring a certain number of hours doing something if its not being tracked? Is this simply for insurance purposes? Is it CYA for the agency? How are pilots vetted when applying?

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Nightsta1ker,

 

You tailor your career path to include the requirements outlined for fighting fires. In other words, seek out jobs which would allow you to gain mountain experience and Vref experience.

 

Furthermore, I too under estimate during carding. If anyone wants to question it, then we can Google Earth where I've operated and they can decide.

Edited by Spike
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So a ballpark figure is enough to get carded? How does this get verified? What is the point of requiring a certain number of hours doing something if its not being tracked? Is this simply for insurance purposes? Is it CYA for the agency? How are pilots vetted when applying?

 

In my experience,

 

Just like every other qualification, it’s not what you put on paper that counts. Ballpark figures are fine as long as you exceed the minimums and can physically demonstrate that level of experience. In short, ya gotta be able to walk-the-walk not just put ink to paper. Of my measly 9 years of being carded, no one has ever looked at my logbook. I simply fill out the FS-5700 and the inspector reviews it, then we fly……

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Yeah...... As a CFI I think I scored about an hour of mountain time from the back seat of this dudes B3 yesterday. I was clearly a contributing member of the crew. :D (kidding)

 

You probably contributed far more than you realize and I’m sure the pilot(s) appreciated your input......

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What kind of flying is a good lead up to doing forestry work? Where do fire suppression pilots typically come from?

 

Longline experience or skills are important, although operators will provide that training in some cases, to one without it. In all cases, they provide seasonal recurrent and preparatory training. If an employer doesn't, run.

 

Fixed wing fire work is quite different and more specialized than rotor work; rotor wing pilots tend to be a little more diverse in terms of generic skills than fixed wing operators. The same skills applicable to EMS work, for example, or flying in the gulf, are applicable to fire work, save for mountain experience. Many fires, of course, don't take place in the mountains.

 

More important over a fire than specific monkey skills, however, is an understanding of fire behavior, fuels, communication, etc.

 

Of my measly 9 years of being carded, no one has ever looked at my logbook.

 

I have. One year the inspector kept my books for three hours. When I enquired what was going on, I was told they were looking at the pictures.

 

I've had employers and the government look the books over very carefully. I've had many others who didn't want to see the logs at all.

 

My current employer sent me out in the hills with one of his employees for a few hours, then took me out for an evaluation, himself. He didn't care what was in my logbook. He did care how I handled an approach into a canyon, my decision making, and so forth. He was very concerned with my ability to meet the demands of the client agency, and it was their responses at the end of the season that determined whether I'd be back the next year or not. The actual flying of the aircraft, while important, is only a small part of the big picture.

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One year the inspector kept my books for three hours. When I enquired what was going on, I was told they were looking at the pictures.

 

Is this to mean they [the inspectors] had to interpret your books by petroglyphs? How old are you?

 

 

 

Now that was f’n funny and if it didn’t bring a smile to your face, then you have no sense of humor and prime suspect for the fun police…..

 

Of the 9, I faced 3 different inspectors. As stated, none looked at my book. Two of which knew me from other sectors, and the other didn’t know me from Adam but obviously just going through the motions. With that, with other types of certification, I’ve had the privilege to be re-certified by “association”. That is, no ride, just paperwork.

Edited by Spike
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So a ballpark figure is enough to get carded? How does this get verified? What is the point of requiring a certain number of hours doing something if its not being tracked? Is this simply for insurance purposes? Is it CYA for the agency? How are pilots vetted when applying?

 

In recent years things have changed with the USFS. In the past when a company presented a pilot for initial carding it was assumed that company preformed the necessary due diligence with respect to the pilots qualifications. However, in a few accident cases, that was found not to be the case.

 

They also found lots of sloppiness on how flight hours were being documented on the pilot’s carding application. In an effort to tighten things up, the current requirement calls for all flight hours, to the best efforts of each applicant, be an accurate account of the pilots actual flight time. The old i.e. 1,500+ is no longer an acceptable entry. Your answer to any inquiry of your flight time should be, “that is an accurate accounting of my actual flight time”.

 

Pilots for initial carding are required to submit their qualifications and application two weeks prior to their flight evaluation. The USFS inspector will do a little due diligence and background on the new applicant. If everything fits, the ground and flight evaluation will be scheduled.

 

USFS Aviation management in Region 5 (Pacific Southwest Region) is trying to tighten-up on the sloppiness. They’ve got two new sheriffs in town, Phil Ketel and James Arbaugh, on the ground in an effort to break old school methods and habits.

 

“The Contractor must ensure that a pilot who is presented for initial carding meets all requirements as outlined in the contract’s Section B, Technical Specifications/Pilot Qualifications, after award. The Contractor must verify all pilot hours submitted on this form as determined from a certified pilot log or permanent record to ensure accuracy.

 

In addition, the Contractor must identify previous employers and submit the information on this form. The information provided by the pilot / External Load Training Syllabus and that contract pilots receive this training before applying on USFS Form FS-5700-20A 0r AMD Form 64B, Interagency Helicopter Pilot Qualifications and Approval Record, prior to approval needs to be verified as accurate by the Contractor. The information submitted is subject to verification by an interagency pilot inspector”. REF: OPERATIONS AND SAFETY PROCEDURES GUIDE FOR HELICOPTER PILOTS

 

 

Required Items for Pilot Card Ride check list:

 

(click image to enlarge)

RequiredItemsforPilotCard.jpg

Edited by iChris
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Mountains don't need to be a 7,000' to be mountains.

 

I understand this. That's why I said some people's mountains are 12,500 and some are 1,500. They are both still mountains. I was just saying that I wouldn't log it (even though I fly in a "mountainous region", unless I was actually operating in them. Not flying by them or flying near them, as it seems a lot of people are doing.

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