How low can you really fly?

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12aphaPo
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How low can you really fly?

Post by 12aphaPo » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:06 pm

Hi guys,

I was just a bit curious after watching a video on YouTube about low flying in the U.S. and began to wonder; How low can you actually fly in Canadian Airspace while still conforming to all the CARs?

I know that over built-up areas you need to maintain 1,000ft above the highest obstacle within a 2,000ft radius. However, what I am not so sure about is the regulation about flying over non-built up areas where it states you must not fly within 500ft within any vehicle, person, etc.

JUST FOR THEORETICAL PURPOSES, does that mean for example, we could fly as low as let's say 200ft above the St. Lawrence river and still be conforming to the CARs?
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splash12
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by splash12 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:58 pm

if its class f airspace "training" u can go to the surface + other uncontrolled airspace 500ft+
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digits_
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by digits_ » Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:11 pm

Once you are a bit north where there is nobody around you can fly at 0.00000...1 ft above ground. I think polar bears can reach up to 17ft, so personally I'd fly at 18 ft.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Beefitarian » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:24 pm

You better know where things like towers are. They don't give way.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by photofly » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:30 pm

1000' above the nearest obstacle within 2000' in built-up areas; no lower than 500' agl in a control zone when VFR; elsewhere no closer than 500' to any person, vehicle or structure. Other than that any altitude is fine.

Commercial operators have other restrictions.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by NunavutPA-12 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:37 pm

In Class G airspace, one inch off the ground if at least 500 feet distance from a building, vessel, vehicle, person, etc.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by photofly » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:05 pm

The class of airspace isn't relevant. As long as you're not in a control zone. But note that outside of control zones all airspace below 700' is class F or G anyway, so you couldn't be in anything other than one of those.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by lhalliday » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:38 am

Five hundred feet (in three dimensions) from any person, vessel, vehicle or structure. CAR 602.14

A while back I had a look at the charts to see how low I could legally fly up the Fraser River from my home base at Langley. With populated areas, bridges and cable crossings the answer was 700 feet. So I did, to see what it was like. I didn't like it.

...laura
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Cat Driver » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:16 pm

So I did, to see what it was like. I didn't like it.
What didn't you like about it?
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by lhalliday » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:41 pm

Cat Driver wrote:What didn't you like about it?
No margin for safety: birds, obstacles, engine failure, etc.

...laura
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Cat Driver » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:44 pm

Those are all good reasons not to fly low.

But the best reason is you are not comfortable at that height....not comfortable adds stress. :mrgreen:

Also stress degrades your decision making ability.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by digits_ » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:30 pm

Image

Image

Sorry, couldn't resist :mrgreen:
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Black_Tusk » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:51 pm

lhalliday wrote:Five hundred feet (in three dimensions) from any person, vessel, vehicle or structure. CAR 602.14

A while back I had a look at the charts to see how low I could legally fly up the Fraser River from my home base at Langley. With populated areas, bridges and cable crossings the answer was 700 feet. So I did, to see what it was like. I didn't like it.

...laura
700 feet is not low.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by crazyaviator » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:05 pm

Also stress degrades your decision making ability.
A little stress has been shown to improve ones performance,,, a lot and it goes downhill,,, speaking of downhill, Flying along Hudson Bay at low level ( 700 or less ) keeps you well above the polar bears UNTIL you hit a flock of migrating birds and end up on the "beach" :lol:
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Heliian » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:13 pm

Consistently working 500 feet and below in helicopters. A little more tricky in a plane but consider float ops, they're scud running all the time. In the bush or up north you can do whatever you want really.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Cat Driver » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:14 pm

How low one fly's is a personal choice and varies from person to person.

I understand Laura's not being comfortable at 700 feet in the area she describes.

For what it is worth I had a few personal limits when flying single engine airplanes.

I would not fly single engine IFR in IMC limits.

I would not fly single engine airplanes over water beyond gliding distance from land.

I would not fly single engine at night except at an airport when training.

Those limits worked for me.

However I did do some low flyng when working at jobs that required it.
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The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no


After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.

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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by B777guy » Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:56 pm

Cat Driver pretty much defined my limits also, you always have to have an out, and just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.
Personal limits like these are why I am still vertical...for now anyway.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by MrWings » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:17 pm

So, what do you guys think of this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f8v5azVmp8
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Cat Driver » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:21 pm

Flying airplanes and surviving is no more complicated than using common sense.

If something can be dangerous and you don't have to do it, don't

There will be enough times when you run into dangerous situations you had not planned on to test your survival skills, so why stack the deck against yourself?
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The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no


After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.

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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by MrWings » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:43 pm

Cat Driver wrote:Flying airplanes and surviving is no more complicated than using common sense.

If something can be dangerous and you don't have to do it, don't

There will be enough times when you run into dangerous situations you had not planned on to test your survival skills, so why stack the deck against yourself?
Pretty wise comment, Cat.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Cat Driver » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:53 pm

I had very good teachers.

When I was just a kitten and lived at the airport because I loved being there I really listened to the experienced pilots and one of the lessons I took to heart was it is better to be a live chicken than a dead duck. :mrgreen:

Back to the low flying subject.

Low flying done properly is not all that dangerous, what is dangerous is flying to close to the limits of the airplane and your own limits.

Aerial application was hands down the most satisfying flying I ever did.

Flying scheduled airline was the most boring flying I ever did.

Of course everyone has different likes and dislikes so there are plenty pilots for every kind of flying.
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The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no


After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.

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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by PilotDAR » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:07 pm

So, what do you guys think of this?
I think of it as I think of street racing videos: Yes, it's possible, and can be done without loss of life nor limb, but, is it a good idea? Not really. I agree that there are times when low flying skills are beneficial, like a tight approach into a water landing area. But, the risk goes way up, you have no time to fix something which goes wrong, no time to enter a glide from an engine failure, many more hazards, including birds, and wires.

People who make these videos are surveying the area very well in advance, and know it well. A low flying run in an unknown area is a really poor idea - glamorizing it in posted videos is worrisome. I have chosen to distance myself from certain groups who seem to focus their efforts on posting "extreme" operations in PA-18 genre aircraft, simply for excitement. Some things which may need to be done in planes (as opposed to "just for fun") sacrifice safety. If there is an operational necessity which justifies the risk, perhaps the reduction of safety can be balanced. Doing it, and posting videos to elicit a "whadda you think of this?" is not a good enough reason.

A 10,000 plus pilot friend died in a wire strike, while flying low level patrol, on a route he knew well. There was an operational need for him to fly low, but is still was not worth the risk, and cost.
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Cat Driver » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:15 pm

The videos of water skiing wheel airplanes are the ones that are really super stupid.
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The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no


After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.

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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by PilotDAR » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:29 pm

Yes, Cat, the water skiers..... and those "STOL" pilots, who insist on climbing away over zero obstacles, yet slower than Vx for a few hundred feet. "STOL" refers to takeoff, rather than silly steep climbaways for no operational reason. Pilots flying so seem to overlook the the reality that in the case of an engine failure, they will not even have achieved a safe glide speed before they have hit the ground. But, they post the videos, and increase the risk that the next impressionable pilot will try it, and place themselves at risk for no benefit.

A wise pilot states that no one ever died because of their decision to not fly - That certainly includes not flying high risk, no benefit type flying....
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Re: How low can you really fly?

Post by Cat Driver » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:47 pm

When I was spraying tobacco in Southern Ontario we were given maps of every farm we worked.

The maps were drawn by company sales people and they personally made sure every wire was clearly marked.

Then before we went to work we flew over the farm to confirm it matched the map we had.

Another safety rule we had was when approaching wires at the end of the field we pulled up early and then sprayed a headland run to finish the field.

And we never, ever flew under wires.
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The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no


After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.

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