Air Traffic! Be Alert!

The Ziggy approach into Ontario and San Bernardino Airports crosses right over the Crestline launch.

I took the time a while back to download actual tracks of commercial passenger and freight flights over a couple of days. These actual track logs show how the planes tracks deviate once they round the HITOP waypoint (4.5 miles NNW of the billboard) and turn south towards San Bernardino.

Some are cleared for a visual approach, and others are vectored by ATC to widen their path to provide separation for landings. It’s like a freeway with planes merging from the NW, NE, W, and SW, all converging along the 10 freeway. Their altitudes at HITOP range from 8000 to over 11000 ft msl. 2 were right at 8100 ft at HITOP  and descending to cross Billboard at around 7500 ft.  They are traveling 250 to 300 mph descending and slowing down to land at speeds of approx 150 to 180 mph. It takes them just over a minute to get from HITOP to the billboard.

That’s not very much opportunity to see them if you’re circling up or gliding along at altitude with a heading pointed on the south side of the compass rose. See and avoid is a weak tool when such differing airspeeds are involved. 30mph vs 250mph puts us at a disadvantage timewise, and given we are likely looking southward most of the time has us trying to look behind us for something very difficult to see in the first place if it is heading directly at you. Think about this when you’re climbing up on a good day.

By Dan DeWeese
Safety Director

  • Thanks Dan. Good info!
    I personally stop climbs between BB and RnR at 7K till I get further East or West. It’s a big sky and we’re small, but see and avoid is still the name of the game.

  • I lose my joy as I climb to 6500-7k anywhere on the Crestline ridge. I read comments of people climbing out to 9k, 10k, etc. there but are you doing anything more than tossing the dice when you do so? I spend a lo of time over at Pine because I feel more confident over there but I have seen the stray odd approach path over there that is completely unexpected. I’m just not sure that anyone should be climbing over 7k anywhere near Crestline. I know how hard it is to pull out of a great climb but the alternative could be very catastrophic.

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