How to Box Climb

17 Replies

Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by Mark Mitchell on Aug 6, 2018 6:40 pm

Never heard the term either. But have flown out of several mountain airports (in valleys surrounded by mountains) and this has been an accepted procedure to gain altitude to get over mountains. The "box" was not as tight as Chris described but was the same stay over the airport environment idea. Particularly at night this was a very good idea as those mountains are very black at night...and a little scary.

Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by Michael Barta on Aug 6, 2018 10:37 pm

This sounds to me to be just a climb in a holding pattern.  IFR it is normally a 1 minute leg racetrack instead of squared off turns.  

I must be missing something from your post.  Where is the B airspace corridor that does not require bravo clearance?  I flew to Santa Monica in 2015 and just stayed below the bravo.  i think TOA tower can approve a climb over the airport but only to 2400 MSL. Above 2400 up to 5000, the airspace is normal E meaning you can operate VFR and do what you want.  You can exit the area to the East or South.  If you want to go North, the Bravo drops to the surface but the transition routes are provided.  The nearby “Coastal Route, for example, starts at 5500 which is in B airspace.  The terminal area chart has an inset that says you need a clearance to use the route.  But, I have only flown there once...


Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by Gary Palmer on Aug 7, 2018 12:00 am

To summarize what I am hearing.  1) The term we use "Box Climb" is not standard and many of you have not ever heard it.  2) The idea is a climb over the airport in order to remain in safe space until reaching the desired altitude.  3) The VFR corridors which do NOT require bravo clearance over LAX is called the Special Flight rules, there is a north at 4500 and south at 3500 corridor, they can be found on the TAC charts.  4) I was wondering if there is a standard maneuver to accomplish this, sounds like there is if I were IFR, but I do not think anyone has one for VFR pilots.  5) I encounter this "local lore" occasionally and find it interesting when I try to understand if this is an expansion of my knowledge for use elsewhere or just here.  Worst is that different pilots and instructors at KTOA define the "maneuver" differently, and should help students understand it is not a "standard" thing, but a good skill to understand.

Thanks all for your inputs, much appreciated.

Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by Nicole Applegate on Aug 7, 2018 11:16 am

Thanks for bringing it up Gary. I think the box climb is interesting. Wish there was more info about it out there. When I googled it all I got was this video

But now we all have a little more knowledge that we could use to win jeopardy. "Aviation for 500, please!"

Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 7, 2018 5:50 pm

The procedure you describe as a means to climb over an airport makes a certain amount of sense.  You'd have to do something like that for the "Visual Climb Over Airport" procedure Bob mentioned for IFR departures from some highly obstructed airports (Cumberland MD KCBE and Jackson Hole WY KJAC come to mind).  However, I can't see the logic in making one leg abeam the runway in the opposite downwind -- that sounds risky if someone is trying to fly that downwind to the opposite runway, which can happen at nontowered airports, or if tower assigns the opposite side pattern to someone else, as often happens.  If that "someone else" is a heavy/jet aircraft, they might be flying the downwind 500 above the normal light plane pattern altitude, and that could cause a conflict unless you and the tower are on the same page about what you're doing.  If I were doing this, I'd fly the normal traffic pattern path, with the upwind leg over or very slightly to the opposite side (like looking almost straight down at the runway).

All that said, I still doubt many pilots or controllers would understand what you wanted if you used the term "box climb".  If the KTOA controllers are using it (or want to use it), they would do well to have that term defined in the KTOA Chart Supplement Notes or a NOTAM for KTOA, just to make sure there's no confusion caused by that term, since it isn't in the Pilot/Controller Glossary, AIM, or Airplane Flying Handbook..

Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by James Ratichek on Aug 13, 2018 11:49 am

Yes, the term "box climb" is a SoCal invention, i think. They do it at Hawthorne also for the same reasons as Torrance. I first used that maneuver when I was doing break-ins on a new engine, and flying chase for some friends testing racers, doing the same. I never called it anything - just asked to climb up in the traffic pattern.Last time I was given a "box climb" departure in SoCal, I just requested a straight-out, exited the D airspace and climbed my own route (the box wasn't particularly efficient for that aircraft). Not sure why its that complicated though. Its a rectangle over the airport that more or less follows the standard pattern except you keep climbing.

Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by James Carter on Aug 21, 2018 6:16 pm

Never heard of lots of things that seem to exist in different corners of our airspace, but most are easily understood when explained.

Box Climb seems very similar to what we called a block climb in the '70s. Coming out of Gunnison, Co in an under-powered C-172RG and heading east across Monarch required a block climb in protected airspace. I departed VFR then opened the IFR plan at 9,000' MSL (about 1,500' AGL). The plan called out a climb in a block of airspace over the airfield to 14,000'. The inbound traffic simply held over the VOR west of the field until we had cleared the approach (and missed) airspace sufficiently. Controllers can permit and do lots of things that enhance safety as long as the PIC understands and agrees.

Re: How to Box Climb

Posted by Eric Lawton on Nov 21, 2018 10:26 am

Interesting that you wrote about this. I obtained my PPL at Hawthorne in the 90s and I was taught the box climb as a technique as well. I thought it was a well recognized procedure and mentioned it on my instrument check ride oral years later in Seattle as a way to climb above the mountains after departure. The DPE looked at me with a stare and wasn’t sure whether to accept my answer. When I explained what it was he just continued on. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what it was but didn’t want to embarrass himself by stating so, so he moved on. I agree it is apparently a SOCAL thing.