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HNZ Topflight Teaches Mountain Flying


Flying a military helicopter in mountainous areas can be extremely tricky business, especially if the flying conditions are at the edge of the helicopter’s performance envelope. Since 1951, HNZ Topflight (previously


known as the Canadian


Helicopters School of Advanced Flight Training) of Penticton, British Colombia, has been teaching military, police, commercial, and private helicopter pilots how to make their way around mountains safely by learning how to detect and ride the updrafts around peaks and ridges.


“We started after World War II, helping Royal Canadian Air Force pilots fly their underpowered Bell 47s around the mountains,” said Tim Simmons, HNZ Topflight’s chief flying instructor. “The secret is to learn how to find the upflowing air while you are aloft, so that you can take advantage of this lift to reduce your power needs while providing the aircraft with more stable flight.” 44


September 2015


Today, HNZ Topflight’s military helicopter students come from Canada, the U.S. Army and Navy, and the European militaries of Denmark, Germany, and Norway, among others. The company’s expertise in teaching mountain flying is something that general purpose military training organizations, with their need to be all things to all people, cannot provide. Simmons said, “We just focus on this type of highly specialized flight training, and that’s it. It’s what we do best.”


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