Low level flying

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small penguin
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Low level flying

Post by small penguin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:37 pm

Its my understanding that flying should be done 1000 feet above populated areas. And in unpopulated areas, 500 feet away from any form of populace. I've also been told that during any part of flight, you should always be able to land safely (ie dont fly inverted at 10 feet; you'll never flip and land if you get an engine failure).

I understand "populated areas" to be any blobs of yellow on a VNC. So those little circles depicting towns, or the shapes for larger cities. To me that means stay 1000agl above those, but anything other than those, stay 500ft AWAY (not necessarily 500agl). So to this, if Im skimming treetops (more or less, say 100-200ft) or flying in valleys, is any of this considered illegal or against CARs?
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Re: Low level flying

Post by just curious » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:46 pm

If you can be considered a hazard to persons or properties on the ground, then, although hard to enforce, it is against those pesky rules. If there are pax on your machine, then it can be considered reckless flying.

Not withstanding the above, in a single engine piston machine, it isn't the best way to reach your biblical 4 score and 7 year life span. Wires, towers, snags (gray, dead treetops) and higher bird activity make for a higher hazard level.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by AuxBatOn » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:56 pm

small penguin wrote:Its my understanding that flying should be done 1000 feet above populated areas. And in unpopulated areas, 500 feet away from any form of populace. I've also been told that during any part of flight, you should always be able to land safely (ie dont fly inverted at 10 feet; you'll never flip and land if you get an engine failure).

I understand "populated areas" to be any blobs of yellow on a VNC. So those little circles depicting towns, or the shapes for larger cities. To me that means stay 1000agl above those, but anything other than those, stay 500ft AWAY (not necessarily 500agl). So to this, if Im skimming treetops (more or less, say 100-200ft) or flying in valleys, is any of this considered illegal or against CARs?
Lots of those "towns" don't really exists. I would climb for anything that really exists (ie: I can see more than 4 houses) Other than that, I stay down low.
just curious wrote:If you can be considered a hazard to persons or properties on the ground, then, although hard to enforce, it is against those pesky rules. If there are pax on your machine, then it can be considered reckless flying.

Not withstanding the above, in a single engine piston machine, it isn't the best way to reach your biblical 4 score and 7 year life span. Wires, towers, snags (gray, dead treetops) and higher bird activity make for a higher hazard level.
That's why good planning is required. Low level flying isn't dangerous. Heck, we fly at 250' AGL and 420 Kts ground speed every day. What is dangerous is the lack of planning and studying before the flight. A good look out AHEAD of the aircraft is also essential. Call every tower you see/should see. Stick to your planned route unless you are willing to climb a little bit to give you more brain cells.

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Re: Low level flying

Post by Chuck Ellsworth » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:06 pm

I get real nervous when I see or hear low time pilots discussing low flying.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by small penguin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:11 pm

Whenever I see a house, or .. lately huts on the frozen lakes, I usually dodge them. Of course flying low has extra ... obstacles...

AuxBatOn, do you do pipelining or something similar?
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Re: Low level flying

Post by _dwj_ » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:25 pm

The CARs say something like "500 feet from any person, structure or vessel", but generally it is a good idea to stay at least 500 feet above the ground as there will always be power lines, towers and similar things that can be hard to see until it's too late (unless you are up in the middle of nowhere). Also when you're very close to the ground you obviously have less margin for error.

Unless you're a commercial pilot and your job specifically involves low flying, it's generally best to avoid flying below 500 feet. And if you have any doubts, just take a look at the accident reports and you'll see quite a few involving low flying.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by Chuck Ellsworth » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:39 pm

I get real nervous when I see or hear low time pilots discussing low flying.
Low flying and inexperience quite often is just an accident going somewhere to happen.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by Anti-Ice » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:46 pm

I believe if you are operating commercially then the 703/704/705 regs also dictate how low you can go.
My memory is suggesting 300 feet agl for 703?
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Re: Low level flying

Post by AuxBatOn » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:52 pm

. . wrote:
I get real nervous when I see or hear low time pilots discussing low flying.
Low flying and inexperience quite often is just an accident going somewhere to happen.
I wouldn't say inexperience (as in low time) so much, but without proper training, yes, it's an accident waiting to happen.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by Chuck Ellsworth » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:59 pm

I wouldn't say inexperience (as in low time) so much, but without proper training, yes, it's an accident waiting to happen.
Where does a PPL get proper training for low flying?

That is what I was referring to..as ..inexperience.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by BushCaddy » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:34 pm

I used to work for TC Enforcement, and a lot of our cases dealt with Low Level Flying.
The assumption that as long as you are greater than 500' AGL, you'll be legal, is not always true. (even if there is no yellow on the map)
There is no definition in the CARS as to what a "built up area" is, therefore if TC can argue that those 4 houses you flew over at 500' constituted a "built up area", then you are in violation.
Having said that, it is also VERY hard to prove an altitude with eyewitness accounts.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by AuxBatOn » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:43 pm

BushCaddy wrote:I used to work for TC Enforcement, and a lot of our cases dealt with Low Level Flying.
The assumption that as long as you are greater than 500' AGL, you'll be legal, is not always true. (even if there is no yellow on the map)
There is no definition in the CARS as to what a "built up area" is, therefore if TC can argue that those 4 houses you flew over at 500' constituted a "built up area", then you are in violation.
Having said that, it is also VERY hard to prove an altitude with eyewitness accounts.
TC has nothing to do with me, so I could not care less of what they think ;)

.: Seen!

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Re: Low level flying

Post by TG » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:04 pm

small penguin wrote:AuxBatOn, do you do pipelining or something similar?
250' AGL and 420 Kts ground speed doesn't really look like pipelining in a 172.
Unless they are doing so now with those.

http://www.airforce.forces.gc.ca/site/e ... ault_e.asp

:mrgreen:
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Re: Low level flying

Post by Chuck Ellsworth » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:08 pm

TC has nothing to do with me, so I could not care less of what they think
Actually I am going to be flying in Canada again soon, will be picking up the new Husky in a few weeks.

As far as TC goes I very much doubt that I will have any reason to ever communicate on any level with them.

It would be highly unlikely that any TC inspector in the Pacific Region would be dumb enough to give me any hassel unless they have a wish to be on the receiving end of another harassement charge.

But for sure you are correct AuxBatOn, I couldn't care less what they think. :mrgreen:
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Re: Low level flying

Post by husky » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:27 pm

I was recently buzzed by a West Coast Air beaver while walking along a dyke. He came over roughly 30' agl, and 150' down the dyke. No doubt about it, what he did was illegal. I was tempted to get the reg and report it, but what would it accomplish? Aviation will always attract a healthy percentage of idiots...
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Re: Low level flying

Post by Liquid Charlie » Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:20 pm

Damn -- he was 25 feet too high -- in reality he was actually using his head -- the fact he didn't fly directly over you shows he was thinking -- most young aviators and a few older ones enjoy the thrill once in a while -- :mrgreen: -- but like anything else -- certainly a right and a wrong way to do it.

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Re: Low level flying

Post by Hedley » Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:01 am

I'm not sure anybody cares, but I (legally) "low fly"
all the time. Upright, inverted, knife edge, etc. It's
what I get paid to do.

Aerobatics aside, there is one thing that you must
always do before you perform any low flying, and
that is a recon. You must know for certain that
there are NO WIRES or other obstructions along
your route, or your ingress or egress path.

You don't just "low fly" on the spur of the moment -
that's very high risk behaviour.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by Wilbur » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:39 am

SP - why are you asking these questions about low flying? If you are intending on low flying, the fact you are having to ask questions about it here should be a red flag that you shouldn't be doing it. The low altitude record has already been set, tied by many, and can't be broken.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by xsbank » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:06 am

Unless you are low-flying as part of your job and have been properly checked out (pipeline, survey, fire suppression etc.) you have no place doing it. Low flying for the thrill of it is as foolhardy and asinine as any of the other activities that raise your chances of getting killed, hurting someone else in the air or on the ground or damaging somebody's property.

Don't do it. "Professional Pilot"....what?
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Re: Low level flying

Post by lostinthebattle » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:32 am

husky wrote:I was recently buzzed by a West Coast Air beaver while walking along a dyke. He came over roughly 30' agl, and 150' down the dyke. No doubt about it, what he did was illegal. I was tempted to get the reg and report it, but what would it accomplish? Aviation will always attract a healthy percentage of idiots...

I wish I was there. That's music to my ears. Oh..and please don't rat out other pilots we get enough BS from the public.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by Bulawrench » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:45 am

Maybe the WCA Beaver was scouting for his next clear cut. Risky behavior even for a cowboy.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by 1000 HP » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:47 am

small penguin wrote:Its my understanding that flying should be done 1000 feet above populated areas. And in unpopulated areas, 500 feet away from any form of populace. I've also been told that during any part of flight, you should always be able to land safely (ie dont fly inverted at 10 feet; you'll never flip and land if you get an engine failure).

I understand "populated areas" to be any blobs of yellow on a VNC. So those little circles depicting towns, or the shapes for larger cities. To me that means stay 1000agl above those, but anything other than those, stay 500ft AWAY (not necessarily 500agl). So to this, if Im skimming treetops (more or less, say 100-200ft) or flying in valleys, is any of this considered illegal or against CARs?
All you need to know is that if you get close enough to piss somebody off, and they can read your registration, you'll get a call from the boys downtown. I you get a kick out of low level flying, get a job in the bush and do it on empty legs, away from population. Oh, and you'll get enough low-level time because of weather...
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Re: Low level flying

Post by TG » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:55 am

husky wrote:I was recently buzzed by a West Coast Air beaver while walking along a dyke. He came over roughly 30' agl, and 150' down the dyke. No doubt about it, what he did was illegal.
Speaking about weather, you're not telling us if the ceiling was 50' this day :mrgreen:

Back to low level and the only part I know.
Any respectable survey company will assess the area (suitable or not) with a job safety plan.
On top of this you do a recon flight before starting the job.
Doesn't mean you will be aware of everything and it will only give you a small beginning of an idea of what to expect.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by rotateandfly » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:00 pm

I thought it was funny the way ICAO defines a populace that should be overflown at least by 500ft. Not by a specific number of people standing around but rather the fact that you cant determine the exact number at first glance.
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Re: Low level flying

Post by chipmunk » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:04 pm

TG wrote: Back to low level and the only part I know.
Any respectable survey company will assess the area (suitable or not) with a job safety plan.
On top of this you do a recon flight before starting the job.
Doesn't mean you will be aware of everything and it will only give you a small beginning of an idea of what to expect.
PLUS - they have a training program specifically for low level flying, with annual recurrency.
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