Cruising at Flight Levels .5 to 1.0


When selecting the lower Flight Levels for cross country work, particularly in aircraft with restricted forward visibility, be aware there may be large solid objects at your cruise altitude.  They may be inconveniently painted colors which camouflage them in low overcast.



Found this picture in the bottom of an old file cabinet today. Took it from my Pietenpol on the way to Brodhead and Oshkosh 2000. The Alabama water tower says “Tuskegee.”  Even when I was younger, stupid and without plans of living to comb gray hair, I never intentionally overflew a populated area at low altitude. The picture above shows a pre-GPS navigational mistake on a 1,300 mile flight intended to be done entirely over rural areas.




6 Replies to “Cruising at Flight Levels .5 to 1.0”

  1. At least you then knew without a doubt where to put your finger on the sectional!

  2. Pre-gps….and pre cel phone tower. Turn off that gps and look out the window.

    1. Gordon, I was fortunate enough to have a real old school flight instructor who thought smacking you for spending more than a few seconds looking at the panel was ‘training’. It worked, I almost never use a gps, and I have little trouble flying a biennial with a towel over the whole instrument panel, one of the things he insisted I practice.

  3. Everyone in the Pietenpol community talks about flying “low and slow”. That bothers me after reading Stick And Rudder.

    I know my Piet won’t be the fastest airplane, but having a good climb rate and using it to store potential energy sounds like a good way to increase my options.

    I’m just thinking out loud. 5 years flying models and couple hours in “real” airplanes is all the experience I have currently.

    1. Mark, I uphold that low and slow are two dumb risks over most terrain. I did it then mostly over farm fields, but wouldn’t do it as a practice today. Today, if I have reason to be close to the ground, I’m no where near stall speed. Even a Piet can gain a few critical seconds by being at 85mph instead of 55. I had a friend accidentally bump the key into the off position at 50′ agl and if we were not at 80 mph, the plane would have sunk into the ground in the 3 seconds it took to see what happened.

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