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The Browns – Tom, Ali, Crescena, Bez, & Ber
December 11, 2011 9:43 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Strawberry Ridge - 16% slope

About a month ago, I (Tom) went up to the Smoky Mountains with the other Orientee and the Orientation staff for 10 days of flying in the mountains.  The purpose was to take the things we had learned up to that point in Orientation and apply them in an environment similar to what we’ll see in Africa.  The schedule included making and evaluating runways in grass fields, landing on those short grass runways that were sometimes level and sometimes sloping, practice dropping packages in a specific location, and low level maneuvering through valleys and canyons.

We were checked out at each runway so we could fly several solo flights at each of them – it was one of my highlights and a significant confidence boost to know that the instructors trusted me to takeoff and land at those places.

Valhalla - Ready for takeoff...the runway disappears down the hill

To give you an idea to compare with, the “normal” runway you would use with an airline is about 10,000 feet long, doesn’t have any slope, and is paved.  Most people who fly small airplanes like we do use runways that range from 2,000 feet and up, most are paved although some use grass, and there is hardly ever anything with more than 4% slope.  At mountain week our runways were between 900 and 1,400 feet long, all grass, and ranged from 0% slope up to 16% of slope.  Two of the many unique characteristics of landing on a steep runway is that you actually have to add power when you land and continue to add power as you go up the slope, since otherwise you will get stuck halfway up the runway.

Moving past the technical… I really enjoyed getting to know the staff better; JAARS has a great group of instructors here who not only have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but a depth of faith and maturity that is inspiring.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed the flying and the company, and it causes me to look forward to the flying in Kenya as well as building relationship with the AIM Air team.  Thanks for being a part of this!

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