What's the best way to observe an airfield?

I’m attempting to improve as a pilot and sometimes instead of flying, I like to park at an airport and listen to the pilot/ATC interactions, watch takeoffs and taxi, and generally just try to learn from the experience. I’ll typically pick a cargo parking area near a runway, use an appropriate plane, shut off the engines, and turn off the lights, then tune into the ground or tower frequency, while I pan the view around the plane and watch what’s going on out on the field.

Is this the preferred way to observe operations, or is there another way? I usually do this on the Training Server, at busy airports like KJFK or KORD, so I don’t want to get in the way of ATC or anyone actually trying to operate on the airfield. Thanks for any tips.


Sit at the parking spot and use free cam to move around the airport if you would like to observe, now if you would like to learn how to fly please look at #tutorials:flight and #tutorials as those are the best ways to learn how to fly.

The best way would be to watch/read all the tutorials. You’ll definitely pick up bad habits from watching on the training server.

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If you have access to expert, park there, and feel free to tune into the tower. The IFATC shouldn’t mind.


At first I actually thought you were meaning RWA but now I know that you mean IF. Try to control a frequency that already has a controller, it gives you an overhead look of the airport and it is pretty cool if you ask me. You can even hear the ATC from the observer view.

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Thanks for the tips guys. I didn’t know you could jump in as ATC and observe too. Very cool.

I’m definitely going through the tutorials as well. Found many useful ones to help get me started.

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Often when I’m parked and tuned into Tower frequency, ATC tells me that I’m on an active airport and need to contact Ground. Is there any way for me to let them know that I’m just parked and observing? My engines are powered down and lights are off, so it should be clear that I’m not going anywhere.

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Expert server controllers shouldn’t have a problem if you aren’t moving. It’s usually just Training server atc that will do that as they want to have all the aircraft on their frequency. You can just ignore the atc on ts if you’re staying at the ramp.

The best way is probably to jump over the fence on sit on the threshold of the runway, great for spotting! 😂


Haha, c’mon man. If I wanted to get that close I’d just go lay on the beach at TNCM.

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They do the same to me, and I am IFATC.

If you’re at a gate, haven’t pushed back or requested pushback, you can observe tower.

If you get ghosted for that, let someone know via PM. That’s not ghostable. [Just make sure it’s PM]


That would be great, however that would be highly illegal and you could get arrested and face fines over $5,000 to $30,0000. Ouch…

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