Note from the author
The articles and material on this website are by no means comprehensive and cannot substitute for real flying experience. They are intended to help pilots operate with greater forethought and safety when flying in mountains and canyons anywhere. However, like many other disciplines, this type of flying is a lifetime learning process. Operating an aircraft in mountain and canyon areas is not a do-it yourself project.
Although careful study of concepts and techniques is helpful, pilots are encouraged not to rely on knowledge gained solely from reading books or watching videos (including mine!), no matter how good the photos or text. If you plan to fly in mountain and canyon areas you should seek instruction from a qualified and experienced certified flight instructor who is familiar with the area in which you intend to fly. The joy you may find from sharing the flying experience in the mountains and canyons is unsurpassable.
Many pilots have joined me over the years for seminars, presentations, workshops, and flight instruction in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. They will be familiar with the curriculum and written training course materials I developed that are still in use by some of those mountain canyon flying seminars today.
The basis for my writings are a body of knowledge shared by back country and mountain pilots who make their living in Idaho's wilderness, as well as my own experiences flying and teaching in the mountain west. In particular, I want to acknowledge my friend, mentor, and pilot, the late I.E. "Lyn" Clark. Our many long discussions about flight instruction and her sound and thorough knowledge and advice have served e well. Additionally, I owe much of my attitudes about flying to one of my personal heroes, the late Jim Larkin, WWII Pilot, Forest Service Pilot, back country, and Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame inductee. Jim's vast knowledge, experience, advice, and humor have been a source of constant inspiration to me, as is his memory.
I want to thank all the pilots and students with whom I have had the privilege of flying over the past 20 years. The meaningful questions and productive suggestions and feedback have shaped my own continued learning and growth as a pilot and flight instructor.
About my flying and teaching career
My personal journey in backcountry flying started in the early 1980's while working as a geologist and white water guide on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers. My first flight was in a helicopter to the top of Granit Mountain near McCall to collect rock samples for geochemical analysis. However, it was not until two years later, when I took a flight in a Britten-Norman Islander into Indian Creek on the Middle Fork that I was completely hooked. Over the next several years I guided in Idaho and Baja, Mexico, to support my flight training and in 1992, with a fresh commercial certificate, landed a job as a back country air taxi pilot.
Coupling my love of flying with my love of teaching I began conducting mountain flying for the FAA in the Idaho back country in 1993 in addition to working as a flight instructor in Boise.
During that time I learned many valuable lessons and made many friends in the back country aviation world. One of my main mentors, the late Lyn Clark invited me to join her and Lori MacNichol, another flight instructor from McCall, in forming the McCall Mountain/Canyon Flying Seminars. Our decision to form the company was based on our observation that general aviation flying in the Idaho backcountry was growing more popular. We wanted to establish and make available to the private flyer the resources and knowledge of veteran backcountry pilots to help promote education and safety flying in that unique area. Sadly Lyn, the anchor of the company and our good friend died in 1997 after our first year conducting seminars. We forged ahead and for the next several years I built upon the foudation Lyn had established to develop the course training curriculum and materials. Some of that is presented here and in articles written for Pilot Getaways magazine.
In 2001 I moved on to the position as director of the Flight Program at Mt. Hood Community College. I also completed my Ph.D. in Education, and in 2003 joined the faculty at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.
Although my current role as Aviation Department Chair keeps me busy, I still keep my hand in flying the Idaho backcountry and Washington Cascades every chance I get. My newest acquisition is my 2009 American Champion Citabria Explorer, which is the perfect all-around machine for tailwheel instruction and putting around the Idaho back country.
After having given over 2000 hours of back country flight instruction and over 75 professional presentations on mountain and canyon flying to various organizations throughout the united states, including FAA, Idaho Aviation Association, Washington Pilots Association, Oregon Pilot's Association, Columbia Aviation Association, Women in Aviation International, International 99's, State of Washington Dept. of Aviation, and more, I still love flying in the back country. My favorite place to fly in Idaho is......(you know I won't give away that secret unless you come and fly with me!).