Knowledge of how to operate at non-towered airports is important for pilot proficiency, courtesy to other pilots and most importantly SAFETY.

One of the problems I’ve encountered while training at an uncontrolled airport is high-time ATP pilots who have been operating IFR and with control towers for years. They are far more familiar with being told what to do and following directions they’re given by ATC. Truly, this is a valuable skill. However, when they get into the unfamiliar environment of an uncontrolled airport, they don’t have the experience to self announce and keep track of other aircraft. In the non-towered environment you’re not following ATC directions, you are communicating and determining your own paths, decisions and separation with other aircraft. This becomes especially challenging when dealing with slower LSA that many have no experience with.

Video

Entering runway, takeoff and closed patterns at uncontrolled airport

Entering traffic pattern and flying at uncontrolled airport

Non-Towered Airports Checklist Self Announce CTAF, UNICOM or MULTICOM

Examples of Aircraft type/ID long and short for reference: light-sport Sling eight Sierra Lima, light sport weight shift six Papa Hotel, yellow Talorcraft one Alpha Papa, Cessna Skycatcher two Bravo Yankee, R V twelve three Gulf Bravo, red byplane, Piper amfib……..

Taxi to takeoff and exit pattern/depart airport at non-towered airport

Pre Taxi

  • Check internal communications and push-to-talk broadcast functionality.
  • Listen to AWOS and other traffic to make sure radio is receiving.

Taxiing

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic)
  • What and who you are (Light Sport weight shift Six Six Papa Hotel)
  • Where you are and what you are doing (Taxiing across runway two seven midfield)
  • What your intentions are (to runway two seven on taxiway Delta)

After run up and pre takeoff checklist taxi to hold short line (Announce if other aircraft approaching on taxiway)

Getting ready to enter runway for takeoff but waiting for other aircraft on final approach

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic)
  • What and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift Six Papa Hotel)
  • Where you are (Holding short for traffic on final runway two seven)/li>

Entering active runway, once runway is clear of traffic and no one is on final approach

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic)
  • What and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift Six Papa Hotel)
  • Where you are (entering runway two seven for takeoff)
  • What your intentions are (will exit pattern from crosswind on 45 to the south west, Carson)

In the pattern doing touch/goes, stop/goes or full stop nontowered airport

Entering active runway, once runway is clear of traffic, no one is on final approach and runway is clear ahead of you

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic)
  • What and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift Six Papa Hotel)
  • Where you are (Entering Runway two seven)
  • What your intentions are (for takeoff – closed left traffic two seven)

You takeoff and are on a departure leg ready to turn first left hand turn onto crosswind leg

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic)
  • What and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift)
  • Where you are (turning cross wind )
  • What your intentions are (closed left traffic two seven, Carson)

You are mid field downwind

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic),what and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift)
  • Where you are (mid field downwind ), what your intentions are (closed left traffic two seven, Carson)

You are on the downwind at the 45 to end of runway ready to turn base

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic), what and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift)
  • Where you are (turning left base ), what your intentions are (for full stop two seven, Carson)

You are on the base leg ready to turn onto final

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic), what and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift)
  • Where you are (turning final ), what your intentions are (full stop two seven, Carson)

You landed and are exiting runway to taxiway

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic), what and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift)
  • Where you are (clear of two seven)

Approaching a non towered airport

Minimum 10 miles from airport broadcast your position and intentions.

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic)
  • What and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift Six Papa Hotel)
  • Approaching an airport it may be appropriate to state your speed if you think you are going slower than the other aircraft (flying 55 knots)
  • Where you are (twelve miles west descending through nine thousand)
  • What your intentions are (inbound)

Note: At this point it is not necessary to claim any runway or pattern direction. You can decide this as you get closer and listen to what is happening with the CTAF and the AWOS.

  • Ask for any airport traffic if you like (any traffic in the pattern?)—This is where you can find out the active pattern depending on wind conditions. If you were in the pattern and heard this question, you could provide this information to incoming aircraft as a courtesy, such as, “we are using left pattern two seven. Light winds.”

Entering pattern on a forty five

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic)
  • What and who you are (Light Sport Weight shift Six Papa Hotel)
  • Where you are (five miles southwest at six thousand),
  • What your intentions (entering forty-five for left traffic two seven)

Note: Many times I hear pilot announce “entering a 45 for a downwind” and it is confusing with all the radio chatter as to where the aircraft actually is. Are they on a 45 or on a downwind? Very confusing. I teach, “on a forty five for runway two seven left traffic” so there is no misunderstanding as to where you are I am and my intentions.

In pattern (may abbreviate if you are broadcasting continuously for departure, crosswind, downwind, base and final)

  • Who you are calling (Carson Traffic, Weight shift six Papa Hotel, midfield downwind, touch and go, Carson)
  • Same calls as above in the pattern