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3 Answers

4th of July Night Flight

Asked by: 5232 views General Aviation, Private Pilot

As long as the weather is good, I plan on flying around at dusk on the 4th.  I have heard that it looks amazing.  I will be under/in the STL class Bravo airspace almost the entire time.  Would it be best to file IFR and just use points that bring me back to the airport, or go VFR and just deal with whatever I can get from approach?  As for altitude, I'm thinking 2,000 AGL should give me at least 1,000 clearance from the fireworks.  Any thoughts on any of this?  Thanks!

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3 Answers

  1. Earl Kessler on Jun 14, 2011

    I have flown during fireworks exhibits and have actually been disappointed.  Unlike viewing it from the ground with a backdrop of dark sky, often fireworks from the sky are lost or muted by background lights on the ground.  I believe the fireworks only are exploded under 500 ft agl and just don’t occupy that much airspace as viewed from the cockpit.  The lower you can safely fly, the more chance you will have of viewing them with the sky as a backdrop.  You are probably better off VFR since you will want the freedom to orbit when you finally spot them.

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  2. MaggotCFII on Jun 16, 2011

    Tried that several years ago along a coast line.  Several communities had shows on the same night.  Flew it 1500′ AGL, with good spots for emergency “put-downs”.
    The displays looked pretty enough – BUT – it was the lack of noise – NO whistle-bang-boom.  “I love the smell of fireworks in the morning” stuff.
    What’s fireworks without explosions you can hear?
    Take the girlfriend or wife & kids on the ground, eat some hot dogs and drink your favorite beverage.
    And by all means remember the reason for the holiday and say a thank you to all those who served and died to bring us the day.

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  3. Pat Flannigan on Jun 16, 2011

    To answer your question, don’t file IFR for that. Take off VFR and contact approach and advise of where you are / what you are doing. There are bound to be other pilots doing the same thing in addition to the normal inbound flow to STL and it would be prudent to have a squawk code since you will be distracted looking at the fireworks.
    Be sure to carefully review the NOTAMS. Big fireworks shows almost always have a TFR associated with them. As long as you stay out of that airspace, you should be safe from fireworks and violations.
    I’ve seen fireworks from the air many times and I can tell you from experience that it’s really not that impressive. For STL, I’m guessing the best view is going to be from the lawn and staircase down by the Arch.

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