Flying the Hudson: North to South
This is the second page of information for flying light aircraft on the popular sightseeing route of the Hudson River, passing through the metropolitan New York City area. If you've come here directly via a search engine, you may wish to check out the First Page with basic pre-requisite information prior to reading this page.
Below are details on the self-announce points and altitude restrictions
for flying the Hudson River, New York City. I've listed them North to South.
My assumption is that pilots, (being as stunningly brilliant as
we are), are most likely able to reverse these instructions as necessary!
Summary of the Route and self-announce
|Self Announce Frequencies
Note: Not everyone uses all these points. For example, the Intrepid
and the Empire State Building are pretty close flight-wise, so you
can maybe use one. Use your judgment. The point is, just like at
a non-towered airport, to be clear and let others know where you
are. Here's an example...
"Hudson Traffic, Bugsmasher 123, George Washington Bridge, southbound Jersey side, one thousand, Hudson." (Some leave out the "Jersey side" given that it should be assumed if you're southbound that's where you'll be. Can't hurt though.)
- or -
"Hudson Traffic, Bugsmasher 123, Intrepid, southbound, Jersey side, one
thousand, Hudson." (In this case, you should say Jersey side as the Intrepid is on the NY side. A call at the Intrepid may otherwise have others assuming you're on the NY side. Some argue that you shouldn't use NY side landmarks as calls when going southbound. However, there's not much clearly landmark like in a lot of places on the Jersey side. So this should plenty adequate if you just indicated your direction of flight and which side of the river you're on.)
Everyone should know where to look for you now. 1,000 feet above
the west side of the Hudson abeam the Intrepid headed south.
Below are some basic reporting points. (Though a lot of people don't necessarily use the northernmost Tappan Zee Bridge or Alpine Tower points, it certainly shouldn't hurt.)
|| Altitude & Issues
|Tappan Zee Bridge
||Just north of the bridge, you would need to be
below the 3,000 foot floor of the outer Class B ring.
||By Alpine Tower, you need to have dropped down
below 1,500. (It's not 1,800. Look carefully at the blue lines for the Class B on the chart.) The tower is Orange & White on the west side
of the river. As of about now, you're going to be running short
on places for emergency landings. The Englewood Cliffs on the
right may make gliding to anywhere difficult. There are some
parks down by the water where you may be able to get yourself
a good non-water egress, but you're not likely to have an undamaged
plane. There's some very questionable spots on the east side of
the river you could try for.
|George Washington Bridge
||By the time you get to the GWB, you have to be
below 1,100. You can use Van Cortlandt Park, (a flagged VFR
reporting point), on the east side of river to know just when
you really need to be below 1,100. You'll probably use 1,000
to be safely under the restriction. Beware! The bridge stanchions
come up to about 650. Do not hit the GWB. Besides the potential
for dying, if you're responsible for closing this bridge, you
won't personally WANT to survive when NYC commuters get hold
of your name. In any case, for a little while now you have very
few emergency landing options.
||The Intrepid is an Aircraft Carrier and floating
museum on the Manhattan side of the river. Don't try to land
here. (There's static display aircraft on deck and they don't
sell Avgas or have pilot services in any case.)
|30th Street Heliport
||It's actually fairly small and hard to spot unless
there's traffic buzzing in and out. But it's just north of the
more obvious large Chelsea Piers sporting complex. (Try not
to fly into the golf driving range nets; I can see the headline...
"Small Plane Caught in Mosquito Netting.")
|Empire State Building
||If you don't know what this looks like, I'm not
sure you should be coming to NYC!! There's a pic on the right
though, just in case.
||A tunnel may seem like an odd reporting point
for aircraft. But this location may be recognized by the ventilating
towers. They're building sized. Note that the Lincoln Tunnel
ventilating towers are immediately south of the Intrepid, while
the Holland towers are several nautical miles further south.
|World Trade Center
(at this point, I suppose you can use "trade center site.)
This, of course, used to be an amazing site. Flying
by this piece of architecture at the legal altitude would put
you below the top of it. You could look UP and see people above
you. The site is visible enough, though I suppose if you're
unfamiliar with the area you could miss it. DO NOT spend a lot
of time seeking it. You need to watch for traffic. This is a
VERY busy section of the river with plenty of helicopter sightseeing
traffic as well as sightseeing aircraft and those just transitioning
the corridor to get through the airspace.
These were taken just weeks before 9/11.
||This is off the tip of Manhattan. Draw a line
due south from the tip. That's Governor's.
|Statue of Liberty
(commonly referred to as "The Lady.")
|You'll know it when you see it. If you must circle
here, do so very carefully and as high as you can without busting
the class B. Which isn't high. Unless your very tight to the
statue, you'd best be below 500 feet. NOTE: If you go even just
a LITTLE bit too far west of the statue, (like about 1/4
nm mile), you had better be below 500 feet. Otherwise, you're
in Newark's airspace. Since 500 feet or lower may be unwise,
just watch it here. Look CAREFULLY at the chart. You want to
be INSIDE the Colt's Neck VOR 023° radial. (Meaning, if
you have 023° FROM, you want it to be 023° or GREATER.)
|Verrazano Narrows Bridge
||Once you're over this, your out of the worst of
the traffic mix, but it's still a busy area. You can go up to
1,400 feet after you're clear of the Verrazano Bridge. Actually,
you can technically go higher earlier, even over Governor's
Island if you want to thread the needle in the allowable airspace
areas looking carefully at the chart. But to make sure you're
legal, you may just want to stay low until your Clearly Clear.
|Course Reversal on Hudson
||There's enough room to do this for a light plane.
You should probably announce this. And you had best be looking
around as much or more than you ever have during a turn.
||If you can do this south of the Verrazano, great.
If not, there's plenty of room in the bay, but at the very least, get well south of the statue of liberty.
Or make your turn around the statue to head back north, giving
a wide berth to helicopter sightseeing tours or others transitioning
||Get north of George Washington Bridge where there's
a bit more altitude and spacing available for everyone.
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