Flying over Boston

A flightseeing trip can be made over the Charles River: from the east to see the buildings of Boston, flying as far as the harbor, then around the buildings to the south to reintercept the river on the return trip flying west. The flight involves remaining at or below 1500 feet and being in contact with the controller of helicopter traffic in the area.

The procedure:

The first time that I did this trip was with my friend John Minichiello. We started our preparations on the ground by calling up the Boston air traffic control, at (617) 567-6675, to ask if we could go over Boston that morning. Apparently, if the airport is using certain runways, this flight is unfeasible as the flightseeing planes could end up in the path of the jets landing or taking off. We were connected to the tower, asked for our tail number and where we were coming from and when, and all was fine.

We took off from Hanscom and flew south toward the Needham antennas. Once out of Hanscom's airspace, we switched over to "Boston Skyways" on frequency 124.72 (124.725). This is usually the controller who takes care of all the helicopter traffic and low-level flyers over Boston, but on that morning, we were actually talking to the tower, which had a small enough workload to take care of all of it on combined frequencies.

ATC gave us a squawk code, cleared us into the Class B, and in we went, staying below 1500. As we got over the Harbor, ATC told us to turn back to the west, and later we were told to climb to avoid a helicopter taking pictures over Fenway Park.

Go ahead and fly this route with a notch of flaps and the power brought back to below cruise, to enjoy the views as long as possible.

These are some of the snapshots I took during our flight. (Larger, higher quality images can be seen/saved by clicking on the pictures.)

From the Boston Harbor

Logan Airport with one notch of flaps

The Big Dig: what a mess!

The Commonwealth Avenue area


Harvard Stadium and Business School


Fenway Park

A big ship in the harbor

John Minichiello's home


John Minichiello: our pilot for this journey