International Comanche Society

- Northeast Tribe


Flying the New York Hudson River Corridor 

There are many moments in a pilot’s flying life that are memorable.  The first time we leave the home airport environment flying solo, just enjoying the view of familiar landscapes below us. The sense of accomplishment we have when flying home with our brand new pilot certificate in our pocket.  The first cross country trip that goes beyond the reach of our fuel tanks. The awesome experience of descending through a nighttime cloud layer to find the runway lights under the nose, just as they should be. I am sure each of us can add our own memories to this list.
Hudson southbound

One great experience which is reserved for GA pilots is flying the Hudson River VFR corridor through the heart of New York City. The commercial flights can’t do it – they are restricted to ATC direction in the overhead Class Bravo airspace. We can fly at our own pace in a non-controlled tunnel bound by the shoreline on each side, the cross-river helicopter traffic below 1100 feet and the Class B floor above at 1300 feet. Landing lights on, stay to the right, announce your position and watch for traffic – just like flying in the pattern back home.

Central Manhattan
If you are going to fly the corridor there are some things to do before you launch.
bulletFirst, the weather should be good VFR. An overcast layer often means more traffic using the low route past New York and any haze or fog makes spotting traffic harder.
bulletSecond, have and be familiar with a current New York Terminal Area chart. Know the identity and location of the VFR position reporting points, the boundaries of the restricted areas (Statue of Liberty, East River etc.), and the altitude limitations below Class B beyond the corridor.
bulletThird, plan your trip. Know which frequencies to use for ATC and in the corridor. Use a gate approach for flight planning – NYACK intersection to the North and the Colts Neck VOR to the South work well. Plan any u-turns North of the Tappanzee or South of the Varrizano bridges.
bulletFourth, do not plan your first trip as a solo flight. You will need extra eyes to watch for traffic while you pay attention to flying straight and level. Fly first, then look at the view.
bulletFinally, check all sources for TFR restrictions, particularly afternoon or evenings when the Yankees may be playing at home.

Lower Manhattan
While in the corridor, pay close attention to your altitude and position and keep a mental picture of other traffic. Keep your radio communications clear and concise – “Comanche 32P at Alpine, south-bound, 1200 feet.” Be aware of turbulence where the west wind rolls over the Palisades. Don’t buzz the bridge towers – move toward the center of the span. Fly at a comfortable approach speed, not too slow but also not full bore. Don’t tailgate traffic ahead - this is no place to try ad hoc formation flying.
Liberty and Staten Island ferry
And, while you are at it, take the time to enjoy the privilege of flying your beloved Comanche through the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world.

Peter Morse - ICS # 16012


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 Last updated  11/19/15