Flying over mountainous terrain or in high altitude conditions is different from flying close to sea level and hence, pilots need to be aware that they will encounter a whole different set of conditions. Moreover, the fact that even experienced pilots and adventurers like Steve Fossett can be downed by downdrafts over the Sierra Nevada mountains should be a lesson for less experienced pilots or those not accustomed to flying in high altitude conditions.
Hence, Paul Tocknell has recently posted on AskaCFI.com a dated but still relevant flying film from the FAA entitled “Density Altitude.” In the film, a young couple takes a flight from New Orleans (sea level or below) to Denver and eventually to Lake Tahoe in the high Sierras after crossing the Rockies. In the film, the couple learns the hard way that high altitude and temperature will impact the performance of a light aircraft (Note that Steve Fossett was flying a single-engine, two-seater Bellanca 8KCAB-180, also known as the "Super Decathlon"). The film runs for about half an hour and although the participants in the film may not have won an academy award for their acting performance, the film still contains important safety information that pilots who will be flying in high altitude conditions need to be aware.
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