There's nothing quite like making laps around the Statue of Liberty at 150 miles per hour. Of course, I can't honestly say I felt the wind blowing through my hair, but at 1500 feet the experience is exhilarating enough.
As if flying feet away from the New York City skyline isn't your dream flight, try bringing along a passenger. Better yet, bringing a passenger who never even knew the world of general aviation existed. I think you get the point-- this is a really cool flight. Cool enough that I've flown the Hudson Corridor nine times, and have another flight scheduled for next week.
What flight am I talking about? How was I legally able to get so close to Manhattan high rises? And there must be special airspace keeping me away from the Statue Of Liberty? I'm just a private pilot, and made no special request. The hudson corridor is a pilot's best kept secret-- legal and fun. I fly out of KHPN, or Westchester Country Airport, which is some 20 miles North of New York City. After taking off, I put my nose on a direct course for the Hudson River, which runs North to South feeding into the Atlantic Ocean. Flying southbound, I visually follow the west side of the river and tell Air Traffic Control my intention-- to Lady Liberty and back. I'm given an altitude, and a bunch of traffic warnings, and that's it. New York City is mine...
It's not so simple though. To put it into perspective, it is probably one of the hardest challenges for a private pilot. But, if you know what you're flying into and therefore stay ahead of the plane, the trip becomes a once in a lifetime experience... until next time. Flying the corridor is a privilege, so I'll always plan meticulously before departing on the adventure. Being kind to Air Traffic Control and advising all requests early makes it less stressful for everybody. And, flying with an instructor or experienced pilot the first time is a must. There is no comparison to this flight, so make sure you be safe.
What is it about the corridor that makes it so special? For me, it's not just the challenge, or the breathtaking views, but it's being above everything. Flying is truly the only way to find the forth dimension of our world. Driving through the city, it seems like the traffic never stops and the buildings reach the clouds. It is claustrophobic-- you literally get choked up by shadows. But, being above the city that never sleeps is different; it's majestic to see what man can, and has, achieved. The grid my GPS shows when I need to get to 49th and Broadway opens up into reality. Times square is mobbed by ants, or tourist is their proper title. And the Statue of Liberty, the same Statue that represented America to all the immigrants who believed they were at a place where candy fell from the sky, still stands tall, and reminds me of the freedom I take all too granted every day.
There is more to flying New York City than just the mechanics and postcard pictures, there is emotion to this flight. This is what general aviation is all about; bringing the fun and experience back in travel. Except this flight is not about the destination, it's about the checkpoints getting there. Guess you'll just have to fly on down to understand what I'm talking about... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqhimnUNAcQ