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Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR):

FAR 91.119 Minimum Safe Altitudes

…no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

(c): Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.


FAR 91.151 (a) (1): Fuel Requirements:
No person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed – During the day, to fly after that for at least 30 minutes.


AIM 4-1-9 f. Self-Announce Position and/or Intentions:

1. General. Self-announce is a procedure whereby pilots broadcast their position or intended flight activity or ground operation on the designated CTAF. This procedure is used primarily at airports which do not have an FSS on the airport. The self-announce procedure should be used if a pilot is unable to communicate with the FSS on the designated CTAF. 122.900 MHz Multicom Frequency.

There are charted towers near Rice and Essex that extend several hundred feet above the surface.  There are also electrical power transmission lines near many of the camps.  There also may be uncharted obstructions, so be cautious and use good judgment when flying near the surface (FAR 91.119).  Be sure to request the current altimeter setting from Riverside Radio or ATC.

Because you will be flying from 600 to 1,000 feet AGL, well within 3,000 feet of the surface (AGL), there is no requirement to observe the Hemispherical Rule (FAR 91.159) governing correct VFR cruising altitudes with regard to direction of flight, however when you are above 3,000' AGL do fly even altitudes + 500' when westbound, and odd altitudes+500' when eastbound.  Most of the camps along the DTC Sky Trail route lie within Class G airspace, which lies under Class E airspace with a floor of 1,200 feet AGL.  Although there is no requirement to be in communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC) in this airspace, it is a good idea to contact Riverside Radio and/or the controlling agency for the current status of the Military Operation Areas (MOA) and Military Training Routes (MTR) and other SUA at the time of your flight. 

You may generally contact the Flight Service Station (FSS) on frequency 122.2 MHz.  Consult a current Airport/Facility Directory or Phoenix Sectional Chart for FSS Remote Communications Outlets (RCO) co-located with the radio navaids in the area: Twentynine Palms (TNP), Blythe (BLH), Parker (PKE), Goffs (GFS), and Needles (EED). 

FAA Special Use Airspace web site: The FAA Special Use Airspace (SUA) v3.4 Web site provides a source to review airspace closure information.  (Release Notes) (DOT Order JO 7400.8T)

To search for active Special Use Airspace, click the List tab at the top-left of the table; then click the small down-arrow to the right of the Type heading, and in the drop-down menu tick the Filters box, then tick the SUA types whose current status you wish to display.  Similarly, you can restrict the display to SUA located in California in the State heading.  This is also explained in the help provided by clicking the ? link located immediately to the right of the Reset button.

Military Operation Areas
The DTC Sky Trail route takes you under the Turtle Military Operation Area (MOA), which at the time of this writing, has a floor of 11,000 feet from 0600 to 1600 PST Monday through Friday, so it is not a factor.  Two other MOAs, Bristol and Quail are nearby.  The floor of Bristol MOA is 5,000 feet MSL, 0700 to 1500 PST, Monday through Friday.  The floor of Quail MOA is 10,000 feet MSL, 0700 to 1700 MST, Monday through Friday.  Although these MOAs are not a factor at the altitudes you will typically be flying, it is a good idea to contact Riverside Radio and/or the controlling agency for their current status at the time of your flight, and during your flight if altitude permits radio communications. 

Military Training Routes
MTRs are a very real hazard to low-level aircraft operations.  There have been a number of fatal military/civil Mid Air Collisions (MAC).  Usually the military pilot ejects safely, and the civil aircraft and its occupants are mercilessly disintegrated.  While FAR §91.113 requires all PICs to maintain
vigilance in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) so as to see and avoid other aircraft, it is virtually impossible for the general aviation pilot to visually spot minimal frontal silhouette of a light-gray colored,  oncoming jet fighter traveling in excess of 500 knots.

Several low-altitude, high-speed  Military Training Routes exist near or traverse the Sky Trail route, including the following (at this time):

  • Near Chiriaco Summit:      VR1257 and VR289

  • Near Desert Center:          VR1265 and VR296

  • Near Rice:                          VR206 and VR296

  • Near Cadiz:                        VR1265 and VR289

  • Near Goffs:                         VR1225, VR289, and VR296

  • Near Ibis:                            VR1265

 (There may be other MTRs; always check a current VFR Sectional Chart)


The Aeronautical Information Manual advises the following regarding MTRs (abridged):

AIM 3-5-2 (b): The routes at 1,500 feet AGL and below and generally developed to be flown under VFR.

AIM 3-5-2 (c): Generally, MTR’s are established below 10,000 feet MSL for operations at speeds in excess of 250 knots. [!]

AIM 3-5-2 (c)(2): VFR Military Training Routes (VR): Operations on these routes are conducted in accordance with VFR except flight visibility shall be 5 miles or more; and flights shall not be conducted below a ceiling of less than 3,000 feet AGL.

AIM 3-5-2 (d):  Military training routes will be identified and charted as follows:
1.  Route Identification
    (a) MTRs with no segment above 1,500 feet AGL shall be identified by four number characters; e.g., IR1206, VR1207.
    (b) MTRs that include one or more segments above 1,500 feet AGL shall be identified by three number characters; e.g., IR206, VR207.

2.  Route charting
     f. Nonparticipating aircraft are not prohibited from flying within an MTR; however, extreme vigilance should be exercised when conducting flight through or near these routes. Pilots should contact FSSs within 100 NM of a particular MTR to obtain current information or route usage in their vicinity. Information available includes times of scheduled activity, altitudes in use on each route segment, and actual route width. Route width varies for each MTR and can extend several miles on either side of the charted MTR centerline. Route width information for IR and VR MTRs is also available in the FLIP AP/1B along with additional MTR (slow routes/air refueling routes) information. When requesting MTR information, pilots should give the FSS their position, route of flight, and destination in order to reduce frequency congestion and permit the FSS specialist to identify the MTR which could be a factor.  ...


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Hits: [an error occurred while processing this directive] Date of last edit: January 10, 2012 16:10:25 -0800
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