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How to determine what altitude to fly GA?

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I just read an Andrew Herd review that says most GA pilots fly at about 5000'.Is this correct?How do you determine what altitude to fly in say the Beech Baron?Obviously it is somewhat determined by the Alt you start out at and the max ceiling of the plane.Which GA planes in FSX have pressurized cabins?Thanks,Ron

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Check these out,This especially:http://www.seaartcc.net/general/events/pug...on%20VATSIM.pdfhttp://mbev.net/wikka/DraftedVFRhttp://www.laartcc.org/article_page/11Taken from the first link:"6. The altitude you choose should still follow the "hemispheric" rules, to help prevent collisions with traffic going the opposite direction. Whenever you are flying at 3000 feet AGL (above ground level) or higher, you should fly an odd thousand plus 500 feet (for example, 3500, 5500, 7500, etc.) when your magnetic course is between 0 and 179 degrees, and an even thousand plus 500 feet (forexample, 4500, 6500, 8500, etc.) when your magnetic course is between 180 and 359 degrees)"

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One factor in GA flying is temperature.It gets COLD up near 8-10,000 ft. Many small GA aircraft don't have very good heaters - especially older, affordable aircraft.Conversley heat can be an issue in the summer - very few small aircraft have airconditioners - and in Texas at least - flying low can be too warm to be comfortable.Another is the MSA - Minimum Safe Altitude - almost every VFR chart has the MSA marked for the different areas.One factor which FS almost totally ignores is restricted and prohibited areas. In Texas TFR's around the President's home and any key visit are something every pilot needs to watch for and avoid.In the US - MOA's military operating areas also have restrictions.These are marked in FS - but there are no limits or special clearance required to cross restricted air space.Flying above 10,000 is limited by smart pilots - you can't just hook up an oxygen bottle and fly a Mooney at 18K for four hours with some adverse impact. It's a complex area and one which pilots need to study if they plan to fly that high.http://www.aeromedix.com/aeromedix_articles/eox/index.htmlPressurized aircraft - you used to be able to tell by the windows. Small round windows were pressurized aircraft - and large square windows were non-pressurized. Pressurization is a very large, heavy, complex system to add to an aircraft - much more than just an air pump - but a major airframe modification also.Single engine - Cessna P210 - don't know of any others but I'm sure there are someTwin engine - Cessna Twins above the 310/320 series in most cases - some of the 337's were unpressurized, some pressurized. Piper had a pressurized Navajo.One of the great selling points of the Beech Duke - B-60 was that it was pressurized - a real sports car of a light twin.Of course all the turbo-prop twins are pressurized, but the Cessna Caravan is not. The Piper Meridian and TBM-700 are pressurized.I'm not aware of any pressurized piston aircraft currently in production of new airframes.The Beech Baron, Piper Seminole and Seneca are all unpressurized.

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Thanks for that enlightening info.So just for basics and assuming clear weather,is 5000 to 5500' agl for short flights and maybe 1000 under max ceiling when actually going somewhere like 100 miles plus close to realistic?Is there a place in FSX that gives specs like max ceiling for the GA?

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Look in the aircraft reference file.If you look at the information in the link above - many people have been talking about the impact of oxygen impariment at flight levels between 5,000 ft and 10,000 ft. Most people assume those altitudes are completely safe.But for many people - especially those with impaired lung function - it can be dangerous to deadly.Though of course granite clouds are also deadly.

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The 'rule of thumb' I was given when learning was MSA, + 1000ft for every 20 minutes flight time. Making allowances for semi-circular rule (or quadrantal here in the UK), airspace restrictions, oxygen requirement above 10,000ft (not that there are many places you can get above 10,000ft in a GA in the UK!) etc.

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I once heard a rule of thumb for pressurised aircraft was that the first two digits of the distance was your cruising flight level up to 25,000 feet. 180 NM, 18000 feet. 250 nm, 25000 feet.Best Regards, Donald T. :-waveFLYing? It's cool. Trillions of birds and insects can't be wrong.

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Out here, in the mountain west, 5000' msl is only a few hundred feet off the ground (at the low spots). Flights will be more in the 7000 to 12000' bracket with a lot of 8's & 9's.L.Adamson

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As far as I know, 5000' would be an IFR flight. VFR flights are 'thousands of feet plus 500' and IFR flights are just 'thousands of feet'. And then as already stated, 0 - 179 degress is 'odd thousands'(3000,5000,7000) and 180 - 359 degress is even thousands.There something about greater seperations when you get above a certain altitude but I dont know what those are. I think it starts jumping every 2000 feet above 18000' and then every 4000 feet at some higher altitude. I'm not a pilot so I dont know but there are plenty of pilots on here who would. It can get quite confusing.

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Thanks for all the input.I understand the thousand + 500 for VFR etc.I also was stating 5500 above ground level where I am flying.If that is the proper term.So,if you are going up for a little Sunday flight to nowhere in particular just flying at about what alt above ground level would most of you real pilots fly?Thanks,Ron

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I always try to fly the Baron at 5-6000 ft. because that is the altitude you get the optimum performance. Of course in the Western Us that is not possible and terrain always has to be taken into account as well as winds aloft. The highest I have had the Baron is 13,000 ft. and it is quite anemic up there...http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpgForum Moderatorhttp://geofageofa.spaces.live.com/

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I was hoping you would jump in here Geofa.So,anywhere between 3K and 12K is realistic?Ron

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Thanks,that's probably more info then I need but if it's no trouble I'd like to see them.I like flying the Baron.I liked the one you had for fs2 or 4 too.I still like the old panel not the glass one but I think I'll start working with it.There is a small airport near me (Newark,Ill) that has what I think is a Baron that has not moved for as long as I remember.It is just sitting in the grass.Ron

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Geofa,Thanks for sending the info.I hate to admit it but to be honest,I have no idea what it means.I'm in the boat business (all my life) and enjoy learning about flying but have not gotten into the technical aspects of it more then to keep the gauges in the green and the speed high enough to stay airborne.I keep picking up more knowledge as I go along.Ron

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Well to make it simple-look at the middle column-(standard day-59 degrees and 29.92 "). At a pressure altitude of 6000' you will get 188 knts. True airspeed and a fuel burn of 14 gallons per hour per engine with the power setting of 2450 rpm and probably full throttle at 6000'.Look at the airspeed-at lower altitudes it goes down-and at higher altitudes it goes down-6000 ft. is the best. The fuel consumption also changes-but at that magic 6000' that is where the speed at least peaks.I just basically know that at 24" and 2400" rpm on my plane-at 6000 ft. I'll get a Tas of 186 knots and 28 gallons/hr. Go higher-I'll go a little slower but burn less fuel. So again -the simple answer is I always try for 6000 ft. Now if there is a 30 knt. tailwind at 8000 I will of course go up there.http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpgForum Moderatorhttp://geofageofa.spaces.live.com/

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Thanks,I can understand that now that I know what I'm looking at.Just FYI my average size twin eng boats burn about 28 gals/hr at cruise too.Only thing is they only cruise at 28 knots.Heh,Heh.Ron

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That's right.People heading from the great lakes to Florida now by water are paying big time.I had a very small float plane land at my fuel dock a month ago.It had to be a fairly older one and really small.2 guys just bought it in Duluth and were headed for Orlando.Seemed like a real advenrure to me.I don't think it had wheels on the floats so finding fuel was getting interesting for them because we had really high head winds.Anyway,I always appreciate your info.Ron

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Geofa,I just took a flight using your info and thanks,it is more interesting.So you go WOT and set your RPM's by pitch?Also,what zoom are using for VC?Just curious as to what a realistic view would be.I have 19" flat screen.Thanks for the patience.I don't want to be a pest but I am interested in learnig.Ron

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On my 24" monitor I am using a zoom of about .40 in the virtual cockpit-but what I usually go for is getting a realistic view of the instruments-I assume though it will be different on a 19" monitor.Here is a shot from pilot perspective of my plane-and then somewhat duplicating it on the Eaglesoft Twin Commanche. I just try to duplicate that approximate look with will probably be a slightly different zoom on yours.I'll just give you a quick easy way to fly the Baron. Take off everything full-at about 800 agl. pull the manifold back to 25" and the prop to 2500. As you gain altitude you will have to increase the manifold to keep 25" as you climb as you loose about 1" of manifold every thousand ft. you climb. When you level out-bring the manifold back first to 24" and the prop to 2400 for fastest speed-or 23" and 2300 rpm for a little less speed. Once you get around 5000" you will just leave the manifold all the way in and just reduce prop to your desired rpm as at that point you may not even be able to make 23-24" -and that maximum number will be even less as you go higher. Usually when I take trips I do 24" and 2400 rpm (or above about 5000 ft. it will be full manifold and 2400 rpm and I get about 186 knts. true and 28 gallons/hr.)-but if I am just doing practice approaches and not in a hurry I may do 21" and 2100" (much slower but the fuel savings are substantial). http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpgForum Moderatorhttp://geofageofa.spaces.live.com/http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/180286.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/180287.jpg

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Gotcha.Thanks, that's about what I have for VC view.Going for 24" monitor this winter(which is almost here).Will use your info on next flight.I usually cheat,set alt and climb rate then set ap and watch the scenery.Ron

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