Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Destination: Wisconsin

I recently mentioned an upcoming trip to see the old CFI wed her beau, the ATC-dude. Route choices are as follows:

DIRECT:


NO-SO-DIRECT:


The direct route saves about a half hour. My normal incliation would be to burn another 5 or so gallons of fuel and stay over land. But, I wonder if I climb to, say, 10,000 or 12,000 MSL, if that would keep me able within gliding distance of shore if something goes awry. I can't tell from the AOPA Flight Planner how long the lake crossing is, so I'll have to crack open a chart when I get home tonight and do some math. I also think it's time to review those sections of the AIM that deal with lake crossing services. I seem to remember skimming over that once before....

11 comments:

david said...

Flying is all about calculated risks, but even if the gliding distance works out on paper, you're right on the edge of your plane's envelope and will be boxing yourself in in three ways: with altitudes (you pretty-much have to be at 10,000 or 12,000 feet, even if you're in a rough cloud layer), with horizontal route (you cannot divert further from land to avoid a buildup over the lake), and with landing choices (even if you do manage to glide 10-15 nm to shore, you might not have enough altitude to choose a good landing spot). Under the circumstances, actually wearing a survival suit, a personal locator beacon, and an uninflated life vest while flying might not be a bad idea, just to be safe.

When I cut across Georgian Bay on Lake Huron I fly over a chain of islands, giving me a lot of emergency landing choices -- I don't think you have the island-hopping option in Lake Michigan, though.

Anonymous said...

If you make a waypoints at both shorelines,you can tell from the nav log the distances.

david said...

You could still shorten the route a lot without going across the middle of the lake. Fly direct to a point about 5 miles northeast of the southwest corner of the lake, and then from there direct to your destination -- you'll always be close to shore, but you'll still eliminate most of the dogleg.

Here's a rough sketch. You can adjust that middle waypoint to fine-tune the maximum distance from shore.

IFR Pilot said...

Sure, except that the chances of getting Chicago Approach to cooperate in that plan are iffy at best. Given that I'm only going to realize a short time and fuel savings, I think the scenic route will be tolerable!

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