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Training Tip: What's so specialTraining Tip: What's so special

An airport's symbol on a sectional chart tells you a great deal about the nature of the facility—but sometimes there is more to arriving, departing, or transitioning the area than meets the eye.

Pearson Field within the Class C airspace of Oregon's Portland International Airport. Graphic courtesy of SkyVector.

Some airports require special rules because of their location within complex airspace, traffic congestion, security, or proximity to points of sightseeing interest.

In such cases, the airport and procedures may be listed in 14 CFR Part 93, Special Air Traffic Rules. Procedures for Part 93 airports also appear in the chart supplement, and are noted on navigation charts.

The best-known example of airspace where special rules are in effect—for national security—may be the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area and Flight Restricted Zone. (Pilots planning to operate under visual flight rules within 60 nautical miles of the DCA VOR/DME must first take a special awareness training course about the rules, and receive a certificate of achievement.)

But from Anchorage, Alaska, to Valparaiso, Florida, numerous airports large and small are governed by Part 93 rules—a fact prominently displayed near the airport symbols on navigation charts.

Note that nontowered Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington, occupies a “cutout” in the inner portion of the Class C airspace for Oregon’s Portland International Airport. Part 93 rules applying to Pearson Field include establishment of two-way radio communications on a designated Pearson advisory frequency (prior to taxi on departure, and before entering the special flight rules area when arriving); continuous monitoring of the frequency; specified altitudes; and a nonstandard traffic pattern. Near the airport’s symbol on the Seattle Sectional Chart, a boxed note says “Pearson Fld Part 93 Ctc VUO Advsy 119.0.” More details appear elsewhere on the chart under “regulatory notices.”

Special flight rules don’t just apply to arrivals and departures. Sightseers eager for an aerial view of Niagara Falls not only have New York State’s international boundary with Canada to be mindful of, but special procedures dictate the extent and direction of sightseeing rides, including altitude restrictions and lateral limits.

On the heavily flown Florida Gulf Coast, special flight rules in the Valparaiso terminal area include east-west and north-south corridors, and clearance or communications requirements for their use.

Planning a trip to the beach? A course on how to fly to and from popular Destin Airport within the terminal area is available on the FAA Safety Team’s website.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Student, Flight Training
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