I needed help – and I got it!

With the first test passed I went back to my online search, and got overwhelmed again.
I could really use some guidance, not only in aircraft selection, but also in understanding and interpreting the available information.

There was a lot of new-to-me terminology to understand and many abbreviations to decode: all the “S’es” like SMHO, SBOH, SPOH, SFRM, or the strange ones like P-ponk etc…
Once more Google came to rescue and STOH and friends began to loose their secrets. Now most of them had numbers attached and I needed to put them in an order which was relevant for my project. Back to the internet for more reading and learning.

I got drawn into the backcountry flying scene again, knowing quite well that this was something I would only be able to enjoy after lots of hours in less challenging terrain. But hey, it was there where all the action seemed to be – and most of the information could be found.
The more I read about backcountry trips, the airplanes best suited for these adventures, their modifications, required or desired, the more I got lost in information overload. How to boil all that down into a reasonable list of specifications, requirements and nice-to-have’s for my mission?
And, to start with: what is “reasonable” for me? Since the asking prices for 170’s were allover the place I drafted a new budget every other day. And every other week the required amount of greenbacks to purchase a solid one seemed to increase by five grand – downright frightening!
Remember, only a few months prior I was convinced that there was no sane way to pull my dream from the realm of wild phantasies into reality.
To keep costs – or my fear to engage in something financially stupid – under control I scaled down a notch and included the Cessna 140 in my search.
But then, would the “baby-170” allow me to visit the high country in the western US? Would I be able to load up my camping gear, invite a friend to come along for a leg or two,…?
Who would know, who could give me advice?

The answer popped up while having coffee with friends. When I told Sandy and Alastair about my dream and the difficulties I encountered as I began my attempt to realize it, Sandy perked up her ears and said:” I’ll have to put you in touch with Juli! She and her husband are friends from California who now live in Idaho. They have been flying all their lives, if they don’t have the answers to your questions they surely will know somebody who has!”

So I mailed Juli.

The following day I already received an answer in which she offered her help and promised to contact a number of flying friends for more input.

From one day to the next my project had picked up speed – like from “0 to 60” in less time than it takes to sip your coffee…


The advice coming in from Juli and friends was interesting:

“ Probably the first point that should be made is that flying across the Rockies in a 140 is a death trap especially for someone with limited, or no mountain flying experience. Just not enough power and the 15,000 ft service ceiling ( which can be hard to get to) is not enough to get above turbulence and downdrafts. A 170 is marginal enough with the 145 hp… Get one with an o-360 or Franklin engine and you have a real plane….”


“… I’ll add a big “amen” to his caution about a C-140. I used to do a considerable amount of flying in the Idaho mountains in my SuperCub in a flight of two with a girl friend who had a C-140. She often struggled a lot when there were mountain passes/ridges or weather conditions. It just wasn’t safe. “

but also:

“.. have owned and flown a Cessna 120 for many years.  100 horse power.  My wife and I flew it to Baja and back, all over the Rockies.  Just have to be patient.  …”

After reading the feedback it dawned on me that in my introductory mail to Juli I had not given enough details about my flying experience.
So I went about getting it written up (in my next post).

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