Niagara Falls PIREP

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Niagara Falls PIREP

Post by Steven »

I recently completed my second trip to Niagara Falls. I thought I would post the details here because it is a fun trip.

How to get there:
We departed from Lawrence MA (KLWM) on Saturday morning. To minimize flight time for my squirmy 6-year-old daughter I elected to fly to Niagara International (KIAG) on the US side rather than deal with the hassles of an international flight to Canada. You can literally fly in a direct line from KLWM to KIAG without running into airspace or anything else. After battling 35 knot headwinds for 3.5 hours, we got there.

The Falls Route:
If you are flying your own plane, you must do the falls scenic route. It takes you through both Canadian and US airspace but you don’t have do any anything special about that no matter which side you are coming from. The minimum altitude for the scenic route is 3500’ so make sure you choose a day when the clouds are above that else you won’t be able to do it. I won’t go into details about the route because you can find that elsewhere but I recommend printing out a copy of Google Maps and tracing out the route as the southern end of the pattern isn’t easy to identify. The helicopters in the pattern (much lower, but same route) even thanked me for coming when I announced my departure form the pattern (they must have been Canadian).

Where to park:
Tiedown at Calspan FBO at KIAG. I don’t remember the fees but they were trivial. They also have a very sophisticated maintenance facility if you need it. The desk staff can answer all your questions about visiting the falls.

Tourist stuff:
We stayed for two nights. The Canadian side of the falls is dramatically better than the US side for multiple reasons. But how do you get from the FBO to Canada? It’s easier than you think. You can rent a car and drive across. You can get a taxi (but not Uber) and ride across. We took an Uber to the US side of the Rainbow Bridge (about a $20 ride) and walked across the bridge which gives you a beautiful view of the falls and lets you tell people you walked to another country.
Our hotel was the Marriott Fallsview. It’s not cheap but for two nights it was worth it as it is one of only three or four hotels with a real view of the falls from your room. With a small child it was nice to see the falls lit up at night and to see the 10pm fireworks from our room.
Get the Adventure Pass when you arrive or order it ahead of time via internet. The Pass gives you access to all of the tourist trap attractions so you don’t have to futz about whether this or that is worth the admission price. The best part is that you get unlimited access to the WEGO bus which travels along the river and stops at all the attractions. The WEGO is not a scummy inner-city bus system, it is basically a tourist shuttle and is very clean and convenient.

How to get back:
To minimize hassle we had the hotel call us a taxi which took us directly from our hotel, across the border, and back to Calspan at KIAG. Weather getting home was rough but I filed IFR at 7000’ from Calspan and we made it home wet but safe 2.5 hours later.
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Re: Niagara Falls PIREP

Post by AndrewM »

Steven, great post, thanks. Here are some pics I snapped on the way to Oshkosh.
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