Finally, we were on our way! With skis, boots, and homemade chili shoehorned behind us, we soared over the ancient Hopi Mesas, isolated Navajo Nation ranches with their eight-sided hogans, Black Mesa’s snow-frosted forests, and the red barrens of Southeastern Utah. Just days earlier Steve and Molly Palley had invited us for a ski weekend at their Telluride condo. Their car would be full for the six-hour drive from Flagstaff, but if we cared to fly…
Telluride! The name quickens the hearts of skiers and pilots alike. Renowned for superb skiing and funky festivals, Telluride also hosts the nation’s highest commercial airport, perched at 9,070 feet in a dead-end canyon ringed by rugged “fourteeners.”
Pilots must be well-versed in mountain-flying techniques before attempting such destinations: lean the fuel mixture before takeoff; accelerate to climb speed in ground effect; “fly the numbers,” as there’s little horizon reference, cross ridges at an angle, and especially, assess wind flow over terrain to predict and avoid dangerous downdrafts and turbulence.
Continue reading Greg’s April Flying Carpet column, “Ski Telluride!” here. (This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine, 4/12 issue.)
Top photo: Telluride’s ski slopes overlook the airport (visible at upper left). Lower photo: Final approach to Runway 9, Telluride Airport, Colorado. See more photos here.
©2012 Gregory N.Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!