Eagle County Airport, USA
The flying conditions around Eagle Valley Airport couldn’t get any more challenging for the pilots who brave them. Serving the Vail Mountain Ski Resort, mountains surround this airport. The runway lies in a valley, so pilots must go over the mountains and make a quick descent – dipping over the peaks and down to the runway far below.
The weather here can be extreme. Conditions can change quickly while the aircraft is already partway into their approach. It’s not uncommon snowstorm to surround an aircraft when already halfway through its descent. An underestimated danger here is the altitude. Aircraft lose 3% horsepower for every 1000ft high they go, and up in the Colorado mountains that becomes a significant issue.
Overall, planes are far less powerful at high altitudes where the air is thinner. Pilots must increase their speed as they take off to make sure they make it high enough and need a lot more runway and groundspeed than usual. Sadly, many pilots over the years have lost their lives flying in or out of Eagle Valley. Amongst them is a 65-year-old man, who’s small aircraft crashed in 2015 when he lost control of it in harsh windy conditions.