Chicago lakeshore - single engine

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Hildy, May 11, 2019.

  1. Hildy

    Hildy Filing Flight Plan

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    I've been looking at the "Chicago skyline tour" up the lakeshore at 1,500 feet to stay under the Bravo. I'd be in a single-engine, fixed gear plane.

    It's a popular route, so I assume there are lots of old pros here who have done it a time or two. Does that route offer any options at all to glide to an emergency landing from 1500 when the engine quits? Ditching in Lake Michigan with fixed gear doesn't sound like a tempting option.
     
  2. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've done that a lot. There are a reasonable amount of beaches, fields, and paved seawall, other things along the shore. Ditching in the water close to land is an option as well. Just be sure to have floation or know how to swim. I was actually on the GYY tower when the guy dropped the legend cub into the lake trying to stretch it to Gary. One of the two didn't make it.
     
  3. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    There are a number of places along the shore that look ok from the air, but I am not sure how they are on the ground. Chicago is a populated city, so beaches and golf courses are likely to have people. Roads will have traffic. The best option might be to ditch in the water close to shore. In the summer the water temperature should be survivable close to shore and you are not likely to hurt anyone. Fixed gear does pose some challenges, but not impossible to do.
     
  4. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Haven’t flown the route in a long time, but it is busy and ATC traffic advisories are highly recommended.
     
  5. Hildy

    Hildy Filing Flight Plan

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    Oh, yeah. I definitely would use flight following. I thought about a practice run with an instructor before taking my kids as well. I'm only a 190-hour pilot.
     
  6. donjohnston

    donjohnston Line Up and Wait

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    Not really. There are a couple of beaches and golf courses. But in the summer, they're pretty crowded. And the water is... brisk even in the summer.
     
  7. t3chiman

    t3chiman Filing Flight Plan

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    Reddit r/flying recently had a posting about a lakefront flight complicated by a stadium TFR. Exciting moments under the class B, with nearby airline traffic.
     
  8. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    You can handle it.
     
  9. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    While it's extremely unlikely that you would have to ditch, I'd wait until the water is warmer before doing this.
     
  10. donjohnston

    donjohnston Line Up and Wait

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    Lake Michigan water is never anything that could described as "warm". It's frozen, ice cold, and less cold. :D
     
  11. Indiana_Pilot

    Indiana_Pilot Line Up and Wait

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    Check this video out.. Cherokee going up the shore to Navy Pier and then landing at Midway..
     
  12. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    You've obviously never been in Lake Superior. Of course, being in Florida, you start wearing parkas at 65.
     
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  13. FlySince9

    FlySince9 En-Route

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    Looks like you’d be so busy ducking traffic you’d have no time to enjoy the scenery... What’s the point?
     
  14. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I've flown the lakeshore a couple times. No ducking or dodging anything. It was also a weekday though. But the scenery is blah. Just a couple skyscrapers on the lakeshore. Big whoop.
     
  15. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Too bad there's not an airport conveniently placed (like Northerly Island)
     
  16. rwellner98

    rwellner98 Line Up and Wait

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    I do that flight pretty regularly. Flying the lakeshore itself is, IMO, safer than flying the suburbs nearby. At least with the lakeshore you can ditch in the shallow water or beach (if no one is there). Flying over the suburbs the options are much more sparse.

    Here's a flight we did late last year. Has a VFX overlay of Meig's also, for the nostalgic types.

     
  17. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    A while back, i lived on Marine Drive. One February day I got cabin fever and walked out to Lincoln Park. It wasn't too windy, so I walked out onto one of the jetties. When I was out towards the end of it, I realized that if I fell in, I'd die of exposure before I got close enough to shore to get out, as there was no way to climb back on the jetty.

    I used to windsurf in Lake Michigan during the warm months, and would wear either a dry suit or a wet suit.
     
  18. jstro

    jstro Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've been doing the yearly Chicago Triathlon, in August. The swim is in Lake Michigan and I can vouch for its coldness. I think an Ercoupe landed on Lake Shore Drive last year. Kind of amazing actually, he did it well. When I've flown the lake shore I haven't used flight following. I tune in to Chicago Approach, put my landing light on, watch my oil & full pressure a little more closely and keep a sharp eye out for other traffic.
     
  19. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    I have done the up from Gary and hook a left straight to KDPA before. I think I was too busy scanning for traffic to enjoy anything. And going over the corridor over between Midway and OHare seemed ok, just stay south of the expressway, but again I was really stressed about breaking airspace. I would do it again, but go up from Gary to the state line before cutting west.
    Midway did open a new approach for jets that comes out over lake, so when that is active, its another thing to be mindful of.
     
  20. donjohnston

    donjohnston Line Up and Wait

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    Actually, I have. Went to Houghton for a weekend. While Superior is colder, that still doesn't make Lake Michigan "warm". We spent 15 years in the NW suburbs. And sailed every summer.

    No parkas until 55. Had to wear a long sleeve shirt two weeks ago though.
     
  21. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Warm is relative. Lake Michigan at the beaches will get above 70, and to me that's warm water.
     
  22. donjohnston

    donjohnston Line Up and Wait

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    Yep. 70F in August is not unheard of. But the thermocline is a killer. I recall one day the surface temp was 70. Treading water a couple miles off the beach my arms were comfortable but I thought my feet were going to get frostbite. :eek:
     
  23. Jim_CAK

    Jim_CAK Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Yes it did. The plane is from my area. Once in a while the domino's all fall in the right direction.
     
  24. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    LOL. Had the opposite happen as well when the wind shifts. Freezing ass cold on the beach and offshore it's warm.
     
  25. Jmcmanna

    Jmcmanna Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It’s a really good idea to be at 2000’ or below from just north of GYYs airspace to the navy pier for this. The 22L approach into MDW crosses the shoreline at 2500’. Plenty of 737s to dodge in that area.
     
  26. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I do the lakeshore route quite frequently. I don't do it down at 1500. In fact, if you're at 1500 crossing Navy Pier, you're likely in violation of 91.119. The lake is at 584 MSL, so I wouldn't do it below about 1700 feet. Normally I'll do it at 2000, or 2500 if ORD is operating to the east.

    Several things to consider:

    1) TFRs. The sporting event TFRs for both Cubs and White Sox games will push you a ways offshore. Probably not unsafely so unless you're flying a brick, but enough that if you lose it you'll need to point toward shore and may not have enough time to turn parallel to the shore prior to ditching.

    2) Landing spots. I pretty much plan on a beach landing if able, or a ditching otherwise. If you do it right, fixed gear is nothing to worry about when it comes to ditching. Bring it in slow, "land" it on the water just above stall speed and you'll be OK. I won't go through the details of that here, but there are places to learn about that elsewhere.

    3) Wake turbulence. Nothing from ORD should concern you - The lowest you'll see in and out of there are the westbound arrivals, but they cross the shoreline at 4000 feet, so no worries. However, you'll want to check the Midway ATIS. If they're landing on the 22s, they may be bringing planes in on the RNAV(GPS) Z RWY 22L approach, which will have airliners crossing the shoreline between 2400 and 3000 feet. Personally, I try to avoid that, but you can add SAILZ intersection to your flight plan and cross it at 2000 feet or less and you'll be OK. That's 2.5 nm offshore, though, so I don't think I'd do it at less than 2000 either... Check your glide performance!

    All that said - It's a fun flight for your passengers, and it beats the heck out of going way out and around the other way, if you're not already going somewhere to the west. Highly recommend flight following. Contact Chicago Approach on 128.2 as you get near Gary if you're coming from the south side, or on 120.55 if you're coming from the north. Expect a handoff from one frequency to the other somewhere between downtown and the Bahai Temple.

    Enjoy your flight!
     
  27. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    Amen to that.
    I grew up in the Chicago area, summer though at my grandfathers cabin on Lake Superior.
    In the beginning, we had to bathe in the lake. It was so cold that when you dove in, immediate headache.
    I learned quickly as a kid you couldn’t wade in, that didn’t work, had to count 1,2,3 and run in and dive.

    I recall Lake Superior (and we were outside of Port Wing, which is at the smaller west side of Superior) didn’t even start to be “warmer” until most of the summer was behind us. Like August. Then it was time to go back to Chicago, where Lake Michigan was like bathwater in comparison.

    I still prefer cold water, here in Norway many of these “Vikings” won’t go in the water but I’m still immune for life I guess and dive in.
     
  28. kaiser

    kaiser Filing Flight Plan

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    I flew my first skyline tour last night in a 172. I flew the ‘Eisenhower transition’ out of DPA at 1700 to the lake then turned north (was headed to Racine for night landings).

    There are definitely more options to put it down along the shore than the Eisenhower. At night you sometimes get a better selection of empty roads and empty parking lots. It’s also less populated on ground and in the air. My concern was always other air traffic - hence going at night. Last night I only encountered 2 helicopters, downtown and over Northwestern campus. Both easily managed and the downtown encounter offered me the opportunity to left 360 over the United Center.
     
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  29. Hildy

    Hildy Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks everyone, for the great advice. The plan is to load up the kids in the Cherokee, fly along the lakeshore to Waukegan, and then get a crew car ride or a taxi or something to Six Flags Great America for the day. For the return trip there's a Jorjo-Five departure out of Waukegan, right over the middle of the city, and ending at the RBS VORTAC, which is right near my home 'drome of KCMI.

    I still plan on a dry run with an instructor. I Learned to fly in a Class C, so lots of traffic under positive ATC control doesn't bother me, but I don't have any experience with congested VFR traffic along a route like the lakeshore.
     
  30. GreatLakesFlying

    GreatLakesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I fly the shoreline quite often, flying at 1700. There are few places within gliding distance -- excluding the water itself. As others have mentioned, now that the weather is improving, those places become populated. That's good news and bad news. The bad news is you can't land where there are a lot of people. The good news is there will be a dozen 911 calls alerting responders to your location. There are also a few stretches of Lake Shore Drive where you can land, especially south of downtown. An Ercoupe landed safely on LSD last year, after Oshkosh.

    Some beaches are less busy than others. Loyola Beach, for example, doesn't get crowded on weekdays. North Avenue beach is busy all the time. Hollywood beach is another promising place that may be less crowded. There is green space south of it where you can also land. From Foster Beach to Montrose Beach, the frontage road called N. Simonds Dr. may be an option. On the weekends, however, it is packed with cars parked at-angle on both curbsides. Montrose Beach is another option but on weekends it's a very popular place for dog guardians because it's the only dog beach in the city.

    From Montrose Harbor to downtown, your only option is the Lake Shore Drive. Then you get Northerly Island (former site of Meigs Field) and South Lake Shore Drive. The south parking lot at Soldier's Field is an option but not the stadium itself: there is never a touchdown here :). That flat roof of the convention center (Arie Crown Theater) may look tempting but it's questionable if it can take the impact. (The roof collapsed in 1967 after a fire, and it was rebuilt). The lakeside green space south of the convention center is usually less crowded compared to the north, so that may be an option. As you are coming abeam Hyde Park (marked "Hotels" on the Chicago TAC), your best option if you can make it is the Midway Plaisance, the green corridor that splits the University of Chicago campus and runs east/west. That will also place you within 1/2 mile of the best trauma center in the region. The Jackson Park Golf Course south of Jackson Harbor may be your last option. At this point, you will be turning on course and climbing for your enroute segment.

    Last week I tried a new approach to downtown Chicago that offered more spectacular views. I followed the shoreline to the south, turned west over Monroe harbor, and then flew north back to join the shoreline and to continue south to Hyde Park. The views, as you loop around downtown, are incredible and at 1700 you're at the 67th floor of Sears (Willis) Tower. But for about 3 miles there is no viable place for an emergency landing other than a bendy river crossed by many, many bridges. Anyway, here's a brief video from that loop around the Loop (notice the typo indicating that Goose Island is to the left when, in fact, it's to the right).

    The places above are my "landing zones", as I have thought about my options quite a bit. Their names are identifiable on Google Maps. I like flying the route, I know my passengers enjoy it, and I feel that I have a few options for a survivable landing.

    Couple more suggestions: (1) plan your route around the TAC's landmarks, e.g., shoreline from "BAHAI TEMPLE" to "HOTELS". (2) As others have recommended, call for flight following. If you approach from the north, you'll probably get on 120.55. Abeam O'Hare, you'll be handed off probably to 128.2 who will stay with you for the most part. They are very helpful. And so are the controllers at KUGN.

    The shoreline route is not as congested as I thought it 'd be. On weekdays, I have not not received more than 4-5 VFR traffic advisories. On weekends, maybe 8-10 for the entire route from BAHAI down to the CRIB. Usually, I get more advisories about 737s when Midway lands to the southwest or northwest.

    Overall it's a memorable flight and with a bit of preparation, a safe one too.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
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