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Instructor » Mountain Flying » Saddle Crossings

Saddle Crossings

  • Concept of saddle, pass, spur, ridge
  • Compromise of many variables
  • Anticipating/assessment of lift and sink
  • VSI indications
  • Appreciation of wind direction relative to terrain
  • Approach 45° or less with escape route downhill, downstream
  • Desirable approach left to right
  • Escape option obstacle free to use minimum bank angle
  • Knife edge saddle versus prolonged commitment area saddle
  • Level attitude - maintain airspeed with regard to Va
  • Not in climb attitude - airspeed and lookout are compromised
  • Not in descent - airspeed and control limited by Va
  • Anticipate turbulence
  • Use of parallax to assess sink and safe height to cross i.e. more terrain visible behind as approaching saddle therefore higher than saddle; less terrain visible therefore lower and turn away early, including assessment of 500’ clearance technique
  • Decision making, including:
    • planning of initial flight path to a mountain range or ridge
    • options  
    • approaches to the saddle/pass/ridge/spur
    • commitment point
    • escape routes
    • position and options after crossing
    • position reports for traffic information
    • proximity to cloud including potential for lift