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Put 'er down there....thats fine.

  • Thread starter Traumahawk
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Shawn's thread got me thinking about a question I've had for a while.
I have a few friends that intructed out west, and every so often they'd land on an old desert road, pull up to a cafe, have lunch and be on their way.
Now, I know this isn't exactly considered legal by most. Others who have wanted to land on a road contacted the local law enforcement and had them survey the area to make sure it would be safe etc...
But if we can fly low enough to not cause undue harm or damage, that means one inch. Now, what if you cut the power and made the inch disappear. Your plane is now flying at 0 knots and just happened to stop by a stream where you're fishing for some great bass.
Is it state laws that stop you from landing off airports? Can some of the FAR's be interpreted to contradict something saying you can or can't?
Best Regards!
I've made a number of landings on roads, highways, levees, mountain tops, streambeds, sandbars, whatever. There is no regulation which specifically prevents this in general.

I lived next door to a gas station where the local news helicopter would frequently land. As a kid I'd watch it for them while they went next door to the cafe to eat.

A bigger question you should be asking yourself is what your insurance company thinks of your actions, and what your true capabilities are. How experienced are you at spotting powerlines that intersect a road, and how do you handle them? What about traffic at the last minute? How will you answer in court when you hit someone's dog, or child, or car, or catch the wingtip on someone's mailbox?

I can tell you from a lot of personal experience, up close and personal with powerlines from the cockpit, that even very high time pilots with a lifetime of experience dealing with powerlines and obstacles still get hurt or killed by them.

Consider any straight line on the ground as having obstacles. Almost always fences, and very often above ground aerial wires; powerlines, phone cables, etc. Know how to spot them, where, and what to do about it when you find them. If you're attempting to do so at 1", you're out of luck when you find them. I would also add that overflying the landing site doesn't gaurantee you that the wires aren't there. Wires are very hard to spot, and I've seen tail sections and wingtips and even propellers and canopies torn off airplanes from unseen guy wires and other hazards.

Consider your local liabilities, and clear yourself first. Contact law enforcement to discuss your intended operation if there is any question at all. Consider the potential for negligence when faced with the question of weather motorists or local residents could reasonably expect that you'd be landing there, or even sitting there in an airplane. Also consider the potential for things such as traffic accidents when people are distracted by your airplane on the ground. (And don't neglect the possibility of damage to your airplane by curious on-lookers).

Legality is only one small part of the picture.

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