Be Careful what you post on youtube, flying wise, on youtuber I watch P1D driver got reported to the FAA by a "student pilot" because he thought of what he thought was a safety violation, FAA called him and basically said the report was bs and the kid was mad due to being offended by the response he got when he asked the question on the youtube channel. P1D driver said it becoming more common that someone reports a pilot to FAA due to a youtube video. Some one also reported Trent Palmer.

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By coincidence, I just watched a video yesterday of a glider pilot doing aerobatics and low-level high-speed passes.  Apparently he was at a small airshow and the air boss asked him to do some aerobatics even though he was not formally a performer for the airshow.  However, he did NOT have the proper credentials to perform aerobatics at an airshow and after the video was published, got a visit from the FAA and lost his license for a few months and it cost him big bucks, too!

I see some pretty dumb pilot tricks on YouTube quite frequently - I would think long and hard before straying outside the regs and then being stupid enough to document it with a video for the FAA to use in your prosecution!  :<(



Not surprised, after seeing a few of a "noted" lsa checkout fella that he no longer instructs. After seeing it I have told several folks here why go there. hoping thought police will allow.

Frankly several videofools post some dumb stuff


One also needs to understand the regulations to avoid doing things that can get one into trouble. A good example is the time-worn low alititude high speed pass down a runway - people do that all the time - it's a runway, folks are used to airplanes barreling down it, right? Wrong. The only time it is legal to fly within 500 feet of people or property is when you are in the act of taking off or landing. If you announce a high speed pass or low pass on the runway on the radio, you are, by definition, not in the act of taking off or landing, you are doing a planned manuever. If that pass takes you down the runway below 500 feet you are illegal, pure and simple.

If, however, you make traffic announcements for a landing on the runway and then on very short final announce a go-around, you were in the act of attempting to land and were therefore legal, even if your go-around was kinda flat and you accidentally gained some speed before pulling up during the go-around. It's all in how you present it.

However, doing low level air displays at a fly-in or small airshow without a performer's waiver is a sure path to trouble with the Feds. I have been at two fly-in events where people showed off and an off duty Fed who was attending the event decided this was just too grievous to not act on. You never know who might be watching or who might be recording a video that someone in power will later see. Ya'll be careful out there................


Just a couple of comments to what Bob mentioned about the legality of flying the runway below 500 feet. In certain areas where there are unimproved runways (e.g., grass strip) you may have to fly the runway below 500 feet to ascertain whether it is safe to land there or not. Looking for anything that could have a catastrophic effect if you were to actually land.  Not always easy to fly next to the runway to do the visual exam as there may be trees or other obstructions to prevent this from happening.

The other time is usually at dusk at airports in rural areas that have wild life problems (deer, turkey) and do not have other means to "clear the runway."  Doing a low flight down the runway to chase the animals away is a safety measure.  Remember you as the PIC have final authority on the safe flying of your airplane.

I agree that a high speed and/or low pass down the runway for no legitimate reason is not acceptable or legal.


100% agree, and those are all low speed maneuvers. You aren't checking runway condition at 75% power.

Here we go.

Bob I'm with you on your opening statement "One also needs to understand the regulations to avoid doing things that can get one into trouble." However, let's explore your statement "...If that pass takes you down the runway below 500 feet you are illegal, pure and simple." 

FAR 91.13 (Careless or Reckless Operation) subparagraph (a) states: "Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person  may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another."

Now that's a catch-all that leaves us wide open to enforcement actions for just about anything, depending upon...well, let's use the low level runway pass. 

FAR 91.119 Minimum Safe Altitudes: General. (I'll omit the sections that cover helicopters, weight shift control aircraft, and powered parachutes) states: 

"Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface."

I'd say you're good on this one flying down the centerline of a long, wide paved runway- next is:

"(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft."

Let's use a scenario where a public use airport has a runway 6,000 ft x 100 ft. and is miles away from any congested area as depicted on the current Aeronautical chart. Yeah, out in the middle of almost nowhere, Next is:

"(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure."

The runway at this airport I'm using as an example is more than 500 ft. from any airport structure, unless you want to consider the lighting, wind indicator, or other runway visual aids as structures- but I'll use airport hangars and buildings in my example. There are no houses, barns, or other dwelling structures within a half mile radius of the airport property. 

So it's a Sunday morning, there's no one else using the airport, no persons, vessels, or structures within 500 ft of the runway. There's no FBO, no maintenance guy on the Gator driving along the taxiway, and all the aircraft based there are tucked away in their hangars well beyond 500 ft from the runway centerline that I'm flying over.  My power setting is irrelevant. The only thing relevant to indicated airspeed we need to be aware of here fall under FAR 91.117:

(a) "Unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator, no person may operate an aircraft below 10,000 feet MSL at an indicated airspeed of more than 250 knots (288 m.p.h.)." and

"(b) Unless otherwise authorized or required by ATC, no person may operate an aircraft at or below 2,500 feet above the surface within 4 nautical miles of the primary airport of a Class C or Class D airspace area at an indicated airspeed of more than 200 knots (230 mph.). This paragraph (b) does not apply to any operations within a Class B airspace area. Such operations shall comply with paragraph (a) of this section."

So we have a speed limit unless otherwise authorized (e.g. airshows) of 200, or 250 mph depending. In my example, let's say the airport is nontowered, in Class E airspace, and my IAS is 160 mph (no I'm not in my 701 :)

I make all my inbound, arrival, and fly the published pattern making position calls on the CTAF, to include a "Low approach with a straight out departure to the West" and fly the centerline at 160 MPH and 100 ft above the runway.  I never stated any intent to land the aircraft.

Actually, I could throw in a wrinkle here- I'm in an aircraft never certified with an electrical system, I don't even have a radio. I entered the pattern as recommended in the AIM or as per published for that airport. An aircraft running up on the ramp over 500 ft away has no idea what my intentions are. 

Pure and simple, have I done anything illegal?

Grab your coffee and let's discuss!

FAR 91.119 Minimum Safe Altitudes: General. (I'll omit the sections that cover helicopters, weight shift control aircraft, and powered parachutes) states:
"Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface."

you answered your own question, by providing a hazard to others (perhaps unseen aircraft in the area, or even Birds),      mr slick might not react so fast 100 agl at 160 IAS

Hmmm...well a bird is not a person or property, unless you mean the faster one flies the less reaction time exists to avoid a B1RD aircraft? Your point is taken on the unexpected, as I suppose a previously unseen aircraft could suddenly appear in front of me but that could happen anywhere, (and it certainly has) to include during a go around even if had I intended to land. I'd have to maneuver to avoid if I could, but hey, interjecting an unseen aircraft crossing the departure path of the runway in use and directly in my flight path means it could be a bad day regardless of my airspeed or altitude, and would have nothing to do with a powerplant failure. Actually, every close call I've had was well away from any airport. If it wasn't evident in my scenario above ("...miles away from any congested area), as I fly down the runway ahead of me are hundreds of acres of farm fields with a few sparse tree copses. No farmers out there on their tractors either. So I think what you meant to bring forth is, there's what's good judgment and there's what's legal? That's a good point.

anyone can perform said maneuver …...if quizzed by FAA, as PIC I elected to go-around, … why didn't ya climb he says.

I spent a lot of time down low flying at 100 KIAS in helos, let me say that time seems to change once normal turns abnormal.

now assuming it is a private airport one could argue that no other traffic is around.

public field ….Above you the unpowered aircraft gliding from above mite not be seen

Wacking a bird might suddenly change you into an uncontrolled hazard. INSTANTLY

most all have exhibited the mentioned action of low pass, but doesn't make it any more safe or legal..

Great discussion over at avweb comment section of the glider video

Ahh, don’t blend safety, good judgement, and legal all together again, allow me to repeat my question; in this scenario, have I violated any FARs?

When presented exactly as you describe and assuming nothing goes wrong and assuming you are not seen by a Fed with time on his hands, you are fine and able to make a strong arguement for legality.

Bob Hoover took years and many thousands of dollars to get his ticket back when a Fed arbritrarily decided to jerk his medical. Other pilots have lost their tickets when doing low level stupidity in front of a group at a small fly-in gathering at a small grass field. I saw that one coming down personally.

So, for me, it's not worth walking or flying up to the edge of legality and looking over the edge. I stay well within the boundries and have enjoyed my flying privilege for a bit over a half century now. Hopefully I can go a decade or two more without upsetting the authorities.

So, to answer your scenario question, Jim/Amelia, I think in that case you are not in violation and can make a strong arguement in that direction. However, if the wrong person sees it you might be explaining yourself in uncomfortable circumstances for quite some time. 

High speed passes are a regular occurrence at our airport. Its a show-off stupid move that puts other pilots at risk. You can split the hairs on the FARs all you want. IMO pilots that do this are idiots.


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