Lady Liberty & Hudson River Excursion

Update April 2019: This story appeared in the March 2019 issue of the Comanche Flyer magazine

Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty are truly special. In November 2018, we flew our 1967 Piper Twin Comanche (N8475Y) for our second aerial visit. It was a clear day, with great visibility, and two dear friends were with us for this fun adventure. View a short video, and a photo story.

Our first sighting of the city was exciting! I used to live very near the Verrazano Bridge, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and it was fun to have this vantage point. The Verrazano is the “gate” for the Hudson River Excursion. Flying this excursion is tightly regulated, as you can imagine. Pilot Bob had completed a mandatory special training and followed all requirements, including a specific route, airspeed, and altitude. Sightseeing helicopters (of which there are many!) fly the pattern at a lower altitude (500′), which provides vertical separation.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge and our first glimpse of Manhattan.

As we neared Manhattan, we spotted Governors Island, a unique tiny island that is part of the borough of Manhattan.

Governor’s Island, just off the tip of lower Manhattan.

Approaching lower Manhattan; back in the day, I worked here in the financial district. The required route is for aircraft to fly north, alongside the right side of the Hudson River.

Lower Manhattan — World Trade Center is clearly visible.

At the required altitude (about 1,000′), we are flying below the tops of the skyscrapers! It is a dazzling sight — a multi-billion-dollar view.

Up close and personal with the World Trade Center.

Continuing north on the Hudson River, I found this football field to be quite inventive. The whole time, we had to pay attention to heavy aerial traffic and multiple hazards, including what we call a “red dome” — a totally restricted airspace around Trump Tower. This restriction was put in place the day before the Presidential Inauguration and is in place continuously. Avoid! Along the route, we are required to make radio reports as we approach specified points — in this way, all pilots along the route can keep track of each other. Example: “Twin Comanche, Intrepid, 1,000 feet, northbound.” Safety first!

Interesting floating sports complex on the Hudson.

We turned around at the George Washington Bridge, another important landmark. Thank goodness we are not driving in that traffic! The fall trees are beautiful. In this photo, we are looking across the Hudson at New Jersey.

Turning around at the George Washington Bridge.

After turning around, we now head south along the Hudson — on the right side, as required. Now we are looking across the river at Manhattan. The Empire State Building is clearly visible in the center of the photo. Beautiful sky!

Returning south on the Hudson River.

Approaching the Statue of Liberty, we are allowed to circle her counterclockwise, just below 1,000′ altitude. We all keep our eyes peeled for other aircraft, especially the many sightseeing helicopters that are buzzing about. Lady Liberty is a beautiful reminder of this nation’s welcoming spirit; in the aircraft, one of us is an immigrant, one of us is the child of immigrant parents, and ALL OF US in this country — with the exception of Native Americans — are descended from immigrants. All of us contribute to America’s success and strengths.

Circling Lady Liberty counter-clockwise.

Pilot Bob circled Lady Liberty twice, and we were all able to enjoy the special experience.

Lady Liberty is visible through the pilot’s side window.

After the excursion, we exited the special route at the Verrazano Bridge, and headed toward nearby Linden Airport, in Union County. This area has a lot of industrial features, including big fuel tanks, and we had some trouble finding the runway visually. We could clearly see it on ForeFlight, and on the avionics, but it was nestled down amongst large structures. All eight eyes are looking!

Looking for Linden Airport — Manhattan in the background.

Happily, we spotted the airport, landed, and had lunch nearby.

Aha! Finally spotted Linden Airport.

After lunch, we climbed back into 75Y and flew back to our home base at Manassas, Virginia (KHEF). It was a beautiful day for a very special aerial sightseeing trip — a good time was had by all!

See more 75Y adventuresfollow us on Flight Aware and check us out on Instagram — we post with the hashtag: #N8475Y.  — diana

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