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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 reporting points.

Self Announce Frequencies
Hudson 123.05

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.)

Reporting Points
Reporting Point Altitude & Issues Chart/Graphics
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. TBD
Alpine Tower 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. TBD
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. Pic
The Intrepid 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.) Pic
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.") TBD
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. Pic
Holland Tunnel 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. TBD
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.

911 flag

These were taken just weeks before 9/11.

Trade1 Trade2

Governor's Island This is off the tip of Manhattan. Draw a line due south from the tip. That's Governor's. TBD
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.) Pic
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. TBD


Course Reversal on Hudson
Mid-River 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.
Southern End 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 south.
Northern Portion Get north of George Washington Bridge where there's a bit more altitude and spacing available for everyone.


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