March 2008 Issue

More Hypoxic Stupidity

A few years ago, as a relatively low-time private pilot with a brand-new instrument rating, flying a normally aspirated piston single in northern New Mexico, I decided that before I venture into the mountains on my own, I should take a mountain flying course offered by a local CFII. The three-day program was extraordinarily valuable, particularly to a low-time lowlander like myself. One thing we did made a huge impression on me; Id like to pass it along under the general heading of hypoxic stupidity. After taking off from Telluride, we headed back to Taos "over the ridge," taking us to approximately 14,000 feet. About the time we actually got that high, the instructor told me to shed the oxygen, start the panel timer and give him reciprocals to headings hed give me. Normally, I can do that in my sleep, and for the first 1 minutes, I complied.

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