When approaching a towered airport, you will first make contact by telling the controller where you are, and what you want do to. The controller will then issue entry instructions to sequence your airplane for landing. All those instructions have to be complied with.
Do not enter an active tower airspace without first talking to the tower controller. Failure to do so can result in ghosting for up to 60 minutes.
Approaching an airport
- Tune to the tower frequency
- Select Call Inbound to announce that you are coming and select Landing or Touch & Go (to practice landings) depending on your intention. Send the message.
- Tower will respond with pattern entry instructions. Understanding pattern entry instructions and the Traffic Pattern requires a bit of learning. You can refer to the image below to get a sense of what it looks like.
- Once you enter the pattern leg that tower requested, keep flying the pattern to Final, tower will issue a landing clearance at some point.
- Once you receive the cleared to land message, you’re authorized to land.
- When landed, exit the runway as soon as possible and taxi well past the hold short line. Contact ground directly. Do not ask the tower for a frequency change.
- Pattern entry and clear to land commands can include a sequencing number. This number is your place in line for landing. Look for the airplanes ahead of you and follow them.
- Once you are cleared to land, there is no need to report where you are, unless you think there is a conflicting situation or some confusion.
- You can be 3rd in line for landing and still be cleared to land. Just follow the airplane ahead of you and land.
- Do not follow the airplane ahead of you from too close or tower will ask you to either do a 360 degree turn or simply ask you to go around.
- Go around means that your landing clearance is cancelled, join the pattern as instructed by the tower. Do not land.
- You can request a specific runway to the controller, however, it is at the controller’s discretion to grant the request. If the airport is not busy, they will most likely grant the request but if there is a lot of traffic, they might deny the request. Always follow the controller instructions.
- Do not send unnecessary Stand by messages.
- Use common sense, if you’re in a fast airplane, behind a slower one, try to maintain the slowest speed you can so the airplane ahead has time to exit the runway before you land.
- If you’re calling the tower from far away or if they have a situation to clear, they will just instruct you to “continue inbound”. Pattern entry instructions will come at a later time.
- Check here for more information about the traffic pattern at controlled airports.