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Thread: How high do you fly?

  1. #1
    Member RocketRick's Avatar
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    Default How high do you fly?

    I was wondering what altitude most pilots fly when they are tooling around and/or if they have a mission like going to a fav fishing spot?

    I know it's up to each pilot. Plus one can track the higher level winds and take advantage of a tailwind if needed.

    I like flying low as long flights can get kinda boring. I'd say I've been flying mostly at about 1,000-Ft to 1,500-Ft.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RocketRick View Post
    I was wondering what altitude most pilots fly when they are tooling around and/or if they have a mission like going to a fav fishing spot?

    I know it's up to each pilot. Plus one can track the higher level winds and take advantage of a tailwind if needed.

    I like flying low as long flights can get kinda boring. I'd say I've been flying mostly at about 1,000-Ft to 1,500-Ft.
    Yep, good weather flying can be something of a bore. On long trips, and in good weather, I like 2,000 simply because it increases the number of possible emergency landing sites. I personally believe that flight between 50' - 100' is good. The world looks a lot different down there, and if bad weather forces you into that world, at least every little puddle and creek won't make you believe you've just flown over Lake Louise or the Yukon River. Low altitude flight gets you familiar with landmarks not much noticed at 2,000 and above. Still, don't be caught in weather that forces you down there if you're carrying passengers . . . . .

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    When I was first flying the coast mail run out of Cordova many years ago to Yakataga and Icy Bay logging camp. I flew high on my first flight which happened to be on a nice day and then low 50 to 100 feet on subsequent nice days. Sometimes following the coast line, other times flying inland at times low, other times high until I had explored all logical routes at a variety of altitudes and familiarized myself with all possible routes. This really came in handy in really bad weather which was a lot of the time, especially in the winter and during fall and spring storms.

    I used the same familiarization techniques in flying the Prince William Sound mail run and also made a note book of points, passes, capes etc. with compass headings to the next check points along this 4 hour tour around the sound and to the Naked Island/ Peak island group in the middle of the sound as well as Perry Island.. I calculated times and distances for all possible legs and also on nice days observed and noted angles necessary from various check points to navigate to next check points. Some of he compasses in those airplanes back then were totally useless, consequently used maps and visual angles from one place to the next to navigate. On long over water legs in bad weather, I familiarized myself with wave directions and the general look of the water in various locations at various stages of the tide during southeast storms (the usual wind direction during storms) as an additional aid to navigation.

    In other words, on good-weather days observe in as many ways possible, routes to get from point a to point b safely should you find yourself caught out in low visibility and ceiling. Of course this all assumes that you might be making the same trip repeatedly. Now with GPS, navigating is a piece of cake, but should your GPS fail, it's really handy to have a firm command of various pilotage techniques.

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    It depends. Over water on floats, maybe 1,000 at most. Over rough water, 3,000...
    Plus it depends on how the winds and turbulence are acting at various altitudes. here along the coast it might be rough at 500 to 1500 but smooth as can be at 2,500...
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

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    In good weather- as low as I want. In bad weather-as high as I can get.

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    My old C-180, 56, is as advertised a mid level cruiser, at about 6,000 ft I can maintain 23 inches of MP at 2400 rpm and ture out at 140 kts. That is the most efficent place for that aircraft. All that being said, Monday, I needed special VFR to sneek in and out of Kenai, you do what you need to do. I have also discovered that when Lake Clark pass is kicking your ***** at 6,000 it can be far better at about 1,000 ft.

    I prefer to be efficent and if it all goes to hell I like a few minutes to sort it out or remember my family and loved ones. I like cruising a bit higher than most.

  7. #7
    Member akaviator's Avatar
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    I can usually be found at 500-700' agl.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I'm usually somewhere between 2,000-2,500' agl. Like some others, I like having the time to find a suitable landing area if necessary.

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    Member RocketRick's Avatar
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    Default Kike the old days!

    Quote Originally Posted by Monguse View Post
    When I was first flying the coast mail run out of Cordova many years ago to Yakataga and Icy Bay logging camp. I flew high on my first flight which happened to be on a nice day and then low 50 to 100 feet on subsequent nice days. Sometimes following the coast line, other times flying inland at times low, other times high until I had explored all logical routes at a variety of altitudes and familiarized myself with all possible routes. This really came in handy in really bad weather which was a lot of the time, especially in the winter and during fall and spring storms.

    I used the same familiarization techniques in flying the Prince William Sound mail run and also made a note book of points, passes, capes etc. with compass headings to the next check points along this 4 hour tour around the sound and to the Naked Island/ Peak island group in the middle of the sound as well as Perry Island.. I calculated times and distances for all possible legs and also on nice days observed and noted angles necessary from various check points to navigate to next check points. Some of he compasses in those airplanes back then were totally useless, consequently used maps and visual angles from one place to the next to navigate. On long over water legs in bad weather, I familiarized myself with wave directions and the general look of the water in various locations at various stages of the tide during southeast storms (the usual wind direction during storms) as an additional aid to navigation.

    In other words, on good-weather days observe in as many ways possible, routes to get from point a to point b safely should you find yourself caught out in low visibility and ceiling. Of course this all assumes that you might be making the same trip repeatedly. Now with GPS, navigating is a piece of cake, but should your GPS fail, it's really handy to have a firm command of various pilotage techniques.
    Monguse - That sounds like what the old pioneer pilots did. Like Andy Andersen etc. They'd learn an area so well they know where to land in the winter so the hike out wasn't 60-miles.

    I got a friend that's headed to OSKOSH. One of the routes he wants to try is from Yakatat along the coast. He's flown from Valdez to Whittier many times over the coast in PWS. He must really trust his engine cause I'm not sure I'd do that coastal route.

  10. #10
    Member RocketRick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnfish View Post
    My old C-180, 56, is as advertised a mid level cruiser, at about 6,000 ft I can maintain 23 inches of MP at 2400 rpm and ture out at 140 kts. That is the most efficent place for that aircraft. All that being said, Monday, I needed special VFR to sneek in and out of Kenai, you do what you need to do. I have also discovered that when Lake Clark pass is kicking your ***** at 6,000 it can be far better at about 1,000 ft.

    I prefer to be efficent and if it all goes to hell I like a few minutes to sort it out or remember my family and loved ones. I like cruising a bit higher than most.
    ocnfish - I've been using abt 23"/23" or 22"/22". Been getting 140-mph at the 23/23 setting. Real nice huh? It does that even with the sportsman STOL cuff.

  11. #11
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    I believe altitude is your friend. If you have an engine power problem at 50' you now have multiple problems to solve. At 6000 agl you have time to figure out your problem.....altitude gives you options, the only time too much altitude is bad, is when you are on fire....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    In good weather- as low as I want. In bad weather-as high as I can get.
    Pretty good answer . . . . .

  13. #13
    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RocketRick View Post
    ocnfish - I've been using abt 23"/23" or 22"/22". Been getting 140-mph at the 23/23 setting. Real nice huh? It does that even with the sportsman STOL cuff.
    I have the sportsman stol also, the real big tail wheel (XPmod) slows me down a bit .... but “brute force concurs all” the IO470 with 260 hp gives me a better cruise. Sounds like we have birds that are fairly straight, I have no damage history but, the log books lie, she was rolled up in a ball in the early 60’s. Whoever put it back together did a good job though. Before the XP Mod tail wheel on in calm air she is a hands off airplane.

  14. #14

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    Anybody get in trouble for flying low in Alaska?
    I.e. breaking the 500' rule.
    When you call the FAA -800 number, one of the options is "to report low flying aircraft press #"

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    I fly at the best alt given the conditions of my aircraft and the weather at the time. I don't tool around at 100 agl. I want time to deal with things if it should occur. Out Bethel way I would fly mostly at 800 to 1000, in Airplanes, helicopters that is a whole different ball game. It depends on what I am doing. Some times yea 100 agl doing long line work, other times anywhere from 500 to 1500 ft. above ground. Out in the Gulf of Mexico when I flew there, most of the time 800 ft was what I flew at, being helicopters the only thing you need was time to deploy floats , most floats req 300 ft to deploy so 800 above the wave is plenty. It depended a lot on heading and were you were in the gulf and what your operation specs had to say about it.

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