How High Am I?



The title isn’t a question from the 60’s, but rather a manual for those to whom every meter counts. Mitch Shipley wrote it as a reaction to last year’s Brasilia Cat 1 test event where ten pilots violated the vertical airspace limits and were zeroed for the day.

In talking to a sampling of pilots, it became clear that there was some confusion about how the whole altitude/scoring thing worked, how accurate our instruments are and what the errors in the system may be. That’s understandable, as many pilots don’t often deal with controlled airspaces in their local flying, but it is becoming increasingly common in competitions. 

For those competition pilots that don’t want to wade through all the technical info below, here is the short story. Set your instrument to the proper launch altitude each day before you fly, give yourself a 100 foot buffer to the penalty altitude and you are good to go! For those that want to get closer to the limit, we need to talk about QNH, International Standard Atmosphere (ISA), Flight Level (FL), QNE and instrument bias error to better understand just what the heck these terms are and how they relate to our instrument altitude errors, with the goal of learning what we can do to minimize these errors (i.e. not get a zero for the day!).

Read the article here: