Air traffic flows by Adam Bell

If you fly high, look out. A surprising amount of air traffic zips through airspace that we are allowed to use. Making matters worse is that we probably only see a fraction of the airplanes that pass within a mile of us.  You can almost count on it that they won’t see you in time to do anything useful so the best practice is avoiding airplane flight paths. Besides, FAR 103 obligates us to stay out of the way of all certified aircraft.

Adam Bell recently attended a meeting that included Phoenix area airspace users and air traffic controllers. The graphic at right shows how much traffic there was and how much of it flew near popular PPG sites. Blue lines depict flights leaving Sky Harbor (PHX) and the magenta lines are departures from Williams Gateway (IWA). Many cross over or near the popular flying site at 60th and Idaho, just east of IWA.

Once an aircraft exits the B airspace lateral boundaries, it accelerates to 250 knots—that’s about 300 mph at 5000 feet MSL. If you see anything, it will only be the last few helpless seconds of life. All the more reason to avoid flying in these tracks even though it might be legal to do so.

Flying high can be fun but be extra careful and choose your area carefully.