Say What? Refresh Your Communications Skills Flying at Uncontrolled Fields

April 1, 2013

Now that sequestration cuts are a reality, pilots who operate at airports where control towers are closing will experience those cuts first-hand. Beginning April 7, the shut-down of 149 contract air traffic control towers will begin and will occur weekly through May 5.

With 38 states affected by these closures, it’s very likely that your flying club will be impacted. Maybe not at your base airport, but what about towers at airports nearby or those used frequently by your club for cross-country flights? For some of your flying club members it may have been a long time since they’ve flown at a non-towered airport. Now is the time for a refresher!

This would be a great topic for a flying club safety meeting. Fortunately, AOPA and ASI have many products to help:

  • Non-towered Airport Operations Refresher webinar—Hosted by AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg and AOPA Pilot Editor-in-Chief Tom Haines, this webinar is an interactive refresher of all aspects of non-towered operations. Even if you missed the live program on April 4, you can still view the recorded version online. Showing this at your next flying club safety meeting would make for an informative and timely seminar.
  • Operations at Non-towered Airports Safety AdvisorDownload this 14-page PDF document for a useful refresher. Contents include diagrams of traffic patterns at non-towered airports, proper phraseology, collision avoidance tactics, and other safety tips. Share the link with your flying club members!
  • Say It Right: Mastering Radio Communication online course—This interactive web-based program takes about 45 minutes to complete and is a review of communications during all aspects of flight, from the preflight briefing to final approach (both VFR and IFR). Successful completion of the course qualifies the pilot to AOPA Accident Forgiveness and FAA Wings program credit.
  • Runway Safety online course—This is another one of ASI’s award-winning online programs. A review of airport signage and markings is a good idea for all pilots, regardless of the type of airport they usually operate at.
  • Runway safety flash cards—After taking the online course, keep your skills proficient the old-fashioned way—by using flash cards. Download and print the flashcards to use with flying club members. It’s a quick and easy way to review runway and airport signage and markings.
  • Even if you only have 15 minutes to spare for a refresher, we have the answer—a 10-question quiz to test your knowledge about airport operations at non-towered airports.

Regardless of whether your airport has a tower that is closing, with most of the country enjoying beautiful flying weather now is a great time to update your non-towered operations skills. Use positive peer pressure to encourage everyone in your club to do the same!