Yesterday I did the fourth PilotEdge Communication and Airspace Training rating flight, which is a Class D towered field (KSBP) to a Class D towered field (KSMX) with no ATC services in between:
Here’s the description from the PE briefing page, but the short story is that you:
- Get the weather at San Luis via the ATIS
- Contact ground to tell them our position and let them know we want to depart to the South
- Taxi to the runway as directed by ground
- Contact tower at the end of the runway to let them know we are ready to go
- Depart via their directions
- Contact Santa Maria tower about 10 miles out and let them know our position and that we’re inbound for landing
- Follow their directions for entering the pattern and contacting them when there
- Contact tower when clear of the runway to tell them our position and request taxi
- Follow their directions, including whether or not to contact ground
Note that each time we talk to a new controller we tell them our position and our intentions. This is a solid rule for any initial ATC contact: “Here is who I am, where I am, and what I wish to do.”
Also, this “inside / out, outside /in” pattern of communication was a good way for me to think about the handoffs in ATC service when I was learning the airspace system (originally I found the rules of who to contact when and where a bit confusing). When departing you start with the controller closest to where you are – ground – and then progressively work your way out as your position changes (tower, then departure, then center). Coming in to a region or to land, you then work your way IN as your position changes (approach, then tower, then ground). One exception is clearance delivery, whom you contact before you start with ground if you’re filing an IFR clearance, or if you’re at a field that has a local clearance delivery (that will be on the chart). The CAT-04 flight is a good, simple example of these outside / in, inside / out handoffs: ground, tower, tower, ground. We don’t talk to a departure, center, or approach because we don’t have “radar services” (also called “flight following”), which is asking ATC to track you between towered fields as a safety measure, which is something they only do for VFR aircraft on request and if workload allows. “Picking up” flight following en route is the subject of the next CAT rating.
So here’s the flight. It goes right according to plan until the very last second – and then the technology fates intervene! We do this flight in the Carenado C177 Cardinal over ORBX SoCal/Vector scenery and AS16 weather with REX textures. Thanks for watching.