July 19, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
The world’s fastest boats are being sailed by the world’s best sailors in pursuit of “the oldest trophy in sport with a rich history dating back to 1851” this summer, says the home page of the America’s Cup races, now under way in California on San Francisco Bay.
An event of that magnitude calls on pilots to be thoroughly prepared to conduct flights safely and according to required procedures in the vicinity, located in already-complex northern California airspace. From complying with any temporary flight restrictions to being aware of airspace classes and requirements in and near San Francisco and Oakland, pilots should stay informed of changing operational requirements.
Check notams often, and review the local VFR terminal area chart before flights.
Pilots should also be vigilant for extensive helicopter activity over the race course and above the city of San Francisco at and below 1,500 feet agl.
The races will take place, generally, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) daily according to this schedule, on a race course that runs along the northern shoreline of San Francisco (south of Alcatraz Island) from The Presidio (the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) to Treasure Island.
Several classes of airspace overlie the course, including Class G airspace from the surface to 700 feet agl, and Class E airspace from 700 feet agl, to the overlying San Francisco Class B airspace floor of 3,000 feet msl, as well as the outer ring of Oakland Class C airspace with a 1,500-foot msl floor.
Pilots also should check notams for an airshow scheduled as one of many nonracing events to take place during the America’s Cup. A TFR expected to be in effect while the aviation event is in progress.
The boat races will conclude Sept. 21 with the America’s Cup Finals.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
It was a surprise when a colleague admitted he had stopped flying. The problem was that he had just moved to Frederick, Maryland, from a part of the country with fewer restrictions.
School was out, and he hadn’t made the cut for the Pony League baseball team. So in the summer of 1954, Dean Stickell started riding his bicycle to Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.
Today’s destination, a grass strip far from congested airspace, is a popular port of call for local general aviation pilots because of its back-to-basics character.
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