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3 Answers

Optimum altitude for search

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General Aviation

If you were searching for a destination, what would be a good altitude to provide optimum visibility? Would it be beneficial to be flying higher or lower?

3 Answers



  1. Brian on Feb 03, 2013

    Higher is almost invariably better. However, what altitude will provide better visibility is dependent on the conditions of the day. In my area during the summer when temperature inversions are plentiful one day it might clear up at 3000 and the next not till 8000. Either way, higher will give you a better macro picture usually making it easier to spot landmarks.

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  2. tungsten180 on Feb 03, 2013

    The reason I ask this question is due to some research I’m doing on Amelia Earhart – the famous pilot who disappeared in 1937 while trying to fly around the world.

    When she disappeared she was searching for tiny Howland Island in the Pacific where she was to refuel. She states in a radio message that she is flying at altitude 1000ft. This seems an incredibly low altitude for such a search.

    Is there any reason why she may be flying so low?

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  3. Brian on Feb 03, 2013

    Cloud coverage perhaps. Otherwise I don’t know.

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