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How high do you fly?

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How high do you fly?

Old 19th Feb 2016, 10:16
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How high do you fly?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uFlReovvnI

These guys fly this trip at FL190. Turbocharged with climb rates is it worth the time and oxygen going so high?
Consider also icing
How high do you normally fly? In what and is it ever worth the hassle

Pace
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 11:03
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At this time of year about 800ft agl. (yes, I fly around large settlements).
In the summer up to about 1500ft agl.
Type - Currie Wot.
John.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 11:04
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In almost any light aircraft I will look at the length of trip and the winds, on a longish flight if there is no wind advantage then I will generally fly as high as airspace and weather allows up to 10,000', less to worry about in the way of glider sites, ATZs, etc. Gives better range on radios and navaids and more time and space to deal with anything that goes wrong with the aircraft!
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 11:07
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I practice aerobatics at 6000 in Extra 300.
It gets there quickly & gives me plenty of room to sort out.. errm unsual attitudes.

Also. I've got no heater! So going any higher I'd be freezing my balls off. Nobody wants that.

For cruising, 4000-5000 seems to be a nice block of altitude for me. Not too cold and I can easily transition across most airspace. Descent doesnt take forever & I seem to be above most of the slower GA traffic just because they dont want to waste their whole trip climbing but I still tend to be underneath the turboprops and the likes of on longer trips.

It varies from place to place. - Also the extra glides like a brick, so I need the height if I lose an engine.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 11:23
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For "short haul", that is flights of 50 miles or less, normally I fly 2000' to 3000'. For longer cross-country usually 4000' to 5000', only going higher if I want to avoid cloud surfing.

I have been up to 10000' a couple of times, just to say "Done that" and to enjoy the view. But to be honest, in anything I've flown, it's a bit of a struggle and not normally worth the time crawling up those last couple of thousand at 200ft per minute or less!

As far as engine-out glide is concerned, I suspect 10000' is a little bit too much time to overthink the situation!
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 12:12
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I suspect 10000' is a little bit too much time to overthink the situation!
Most cases over land yes and its probably the last 1000 feet where it counts
There are exceptions over water where you may just glide to land or a distant passing ship and have more time to get your position fixed and communicate.

Maybe at night where you might just make within the boundaries of an airfield

Over a City or dense forested areas where you need to glide clear and of course over mountains.

Other than that I remember flying the Seneca at FL210 on one trip Spain UK and getting a groundspeed of just under 300 KTS most of the way
I could have made Malaga UK in just about one but dropped into Jersey being cautious

other than that normally FL100 to 120 to try and stay in airways in twins off oxygen and higher if weather dictates

Pace

Last edited by Pace; 19th Feb 2016 at 12:32.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 12:17
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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As my airplane is non turbo, I usually fly at the optimum hights of 8000-10000 ft. Occasionally, I have been up to FL170, on oxygen of course.

To stay out of IMC, often enough FL140-170 are necessary.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 12:36
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Non Turbocharged? FL170? At that level a normally aspirated engine will be down to half power. You must be in a twin I'm guessing?

Then again - being thick - just read your name again! Antonov? But then isn't that supercharged?

Last edited by Dont Hang Up; 19th Feb 2016 at 12:45. Reason: Being a bit thick.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 13:26
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I just hate it when I ask local traffic for a radio check, and nobody bothers to answer.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 13:30
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The view is better low down. No point going higher except for two reasons:

1) Aerobatics, so there's space to sort it out if (when!) it goes wrong.

2) To take advantage of a tailwind.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 13:49
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The view is better low down.
The view at higher level isn't better, it's just different. For me 10000' is where the land changes from 'countryside' to 'patchwork quilt', and it is occasionally nice to get that different perspective.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 14:07
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I usually fly 1000-2000 AGL, depending upon the type of terrain below for a forced landing. If it's really poor, and the winds favour, I'll fly higher to give myself more choice. If I'm flying the flying boat over water, it's an area I know with no boaters, and it's suitably calm, I'll cruise along at 10-20 feet above the surface quite happily. You just have to keep a sharp lookout for sea gulls doing that!
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 14:20
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The view is better low down. No point going higher except for two reasons:
Smoother air above the clouds rather than below
Better visibility above
Better TAS especially turbocharged
Better Radio and Nav
Less collision chance
Different scenery equally as beautiful especially some cloudscapes
Better weather avoidance even with CBs
Maybe above the icing levels or less likely to be flying in visible moisture
Etc
Faster speed, less fuel,more endurance
Better gliding range
CAS potential for IFR pilots
More favourable winds in direction or strength ( can work the other way around to less favourable )

All the above not guaranteed but more likely


Pace

Last edited by Pace; 19th Feb 2016 at 14:31.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 14:24
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I try for 1000-1500 AGL for shorter trips. Lower and my noise print is more than I want, higher and it takes me more than 45 sec to get down on the ground in the event of an urgency. But crossing the English Channel, 5000 to give me more chance in the event of engine failure (never happened yet, touch wood).


Longer trips, and jet turbine gives an optimum altitude of 4,500-5,000 AMSL


But then, that's a helicopter for you
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 14:52
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A slight digression, but I remember clearly one of my early flying lessons, and the first time we had got above 5000'.

My instructor asked me: "Can you see the Winter Hill TV transmitter?"

I knew we were in the vicinity, but for the life of me I could not spot it. "No" I said.

"It's there right ahead" he assured me.

I looked hard. Still nothing. Then, suddenly I saw it. A landmark that had, for my entire lifetime, projected entirely above the horizon, was now suddenly entirely below the horizon, just 2 or 3 miles ahead, and as clear as anything once the perspective mental block had been removed.

I learned about flying from that.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 16:07
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I must admit to liking flying high with the cloudscapes or very low where legally possible! The most boring altitude is where most are! Around 2000 feet as that's the worst of both worlds

Pace
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 16:50
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Much above a few hundred feet and small hills look flat - the landscape looses its interest. As for collision avoidance, best to avoid 1,200 to 2,500 which seems to be where most light aeroplanes fly. The RAF are usually sub 500, so somewhere between 500 and 900 works for me over open country. Higher for built up areas of course, or if the fields suitable for forced landing are few, or if I need the tailwind.

4,000 for aeros.

This is for a relatively slow VFR SEP. If I was flying a Concorde I wouldn't do that. Or the aeros ('cept maybe a roll or two!).
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 19:10
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Smile

''Less collision chance.'' Maybe, but watch out for gliders.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 21:13
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All depends. For a longish journey (say 100-200 miles) 8000-10000 unless winds dictate otherwise. For a local journey, 2500-4500 - remember we are surrounded by mountains here. In the helicopter, 1000 or 1500 AGL unless terrain dictates otherwise.

For REALLY long journeys, higher can be better, also when flying across the desert in the summer. I have done a couple of trips at FL200 to catch the winds up there. But it's a long time since I've been up that high.
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Old 19th Feb 2016, 21:25
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Gliders in wave do climb to over 14,000 in Wales. In Scotland, I climbed to 20,300 agl.

But once in the US, flying an Arrow, with a teenage smoker as passenger, the Naval Air Station asked if I could accept 12,000 feet to avoid some fighter exercises. I told them I was fine with that, then told the teenager to let me know if his fingernails were turning blue; as a smoker he would be less able to tolerate altitude. He spent the rest of the flight furtively examining his nails.
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