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11 Answers

Transition through Class C airpace

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General Aviation

What is the procedure for transitioning through Class C airspace?

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11 Answers

  1. Paul Tocknell on Sep 22, 2011

    Please refer to FAR § 91.130 – Operations in Class C airspace.  

    Although I am glad you are using this site for a reference, the most important reference to learn is how to read and interpret FARs for yourself.  That is one of the most important skills a proficient pilot needs to know.

    You need to be sure you throughougly understand the communication and weather requirements for each class of airspace you are to operate in.

    Again, here is the link:


    If you have any specific Class C airspace questions after reading this FAR, I would be happy to help answer those specific questions for you.

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  2. Jason on Sep 22, 2011

    I think his question is more in regard to the procedure one would use to transition Class C airspace. Typically, Vincent, an easy radio call is all that’s needed. After two-way radio communication is established, as required per 91.130, simply state your position and altitude, then say something along the lines of “request to transition the Class Charlie.” When stating your position, it may also be a good idea to say where you’re going to give the controller a better idea of the direction you’ll be travelling through her airspace. For example: “Cessna 321JH, 18 miles south, 3,500, VFR to KDPG, request to transition the  Class Charlie.”
    This has worked well for me, though others may be able to offer some additional tips. 

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  3. Aaron Strasburg on Sep 22, 2011

    To further expand on Jason’s answer, I’d expect to get a discrete squawk code from Approach (and possibly an ident request), which you set and acknowledge. Soon you should hear “Cessna 321JH is radar contact, 18 miles south of KXYZ. Say altitude.” Then you reply “321JH position checks, altitude 3,500” and you’re on your way. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to be handed off between Approach sectors as you work through their airspace, to be given specific heading and altitude instructions, and so on. After you leave their airspace you’ll get something along the lines of “Cessna 321JH radar service terminated, squawk VFR, change to advisory approved.” Reset the transponder, acknowledge Approach, change freq if desired, and you’re on your way.

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  4. Jim Foley on Sep 22, 2011

    Make it easy on yourself… get a VFR flight following.  You’re cleared into the Charlie airspace.

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  5. Robert on Sep 27, 2011

    Remember, a mode C transponder is required when overflying class C airspace… So, if you dont make communication then be sure to have that transponder on.

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  6. Wendell Beitzel on Sep 28, 2011

    Just remember that while Flight Following is a great tool, if the controller is busy they are not required to continue it.  This is why I always reccommend that my students flie and open a flight plan.  At any point if the controller who you are talking to gets too busy they can tell you to squawk VFR  frequency change approved.  At this point you would then be responsible for contacting the Class Charlie Controllers on your own.

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  7. Brian on Sep 29, 2011

    “Just remember that while Flight Following is a great tool, if the controller is busy they are not required to continue it.”
    While this is true, it is also rare anymore to get dropped. Maybe in a select few areas, but I fly out of central NJ just outside of NY airspace. I routinely fly in, around, and through NY and Philidelphia with flight following. I’ve had it cancelled one time in the last 5 years. In southern NH just north of Boston, where I did my training, it was cancelled twice in 5 years. I rarely fly over 25 NM from my base without it and even use it routinely while in the practice area.
    I’m not trying to start any arguments, I also advocate a flight plan for anything over 25 NM from base. Just be aware that while they are allowed to drop you, it isn’t the ‘norm’ in most areas or situations. In other words, it is a resource, so use it!

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  8. Wendell Beitzel on Sep 29, 2011

    Not a problem, I totally agree about it being a resource, and therefore using it when available.  My feeling on it is the exact same as using an iPad isntead of paper charts.  Use it as a resource, but have a backup (aka, paper charts for the iPad, and a flight plan for flight following!)
    Use your resources, but don’t let them become crutches.

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  9. Brian on Oct 01, 2011

    “but have a backup”
    Great to see we are on the same page. 🙂 As an asside, during my training I was taught to always keep the 4B’s in mind: Bottom lines (minimums), Back doors (ways out), Backups (additional resources), and Briefing (for everything & out loud even solo). 

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  10. Matthew Waugh on Oct 08, 2011

    On the side conversation, flight following does not replace a flight plan, regardless of whether flight following is dropped or not. If you are under flight following and go NORDO, or drop off the screen, the controller is under no obligation to initiate search and rescue, and probably won’t. You were VFR, you can, mostly, do what you want. They’ll probably notch up one more rude GA pilot who couldn’t even say goodbye and get on with their day.

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  11. Heather McNevin on Oct 08, 2011

    Actually if you go NORDO or disappear, VFR or IFR, it starts a chain of events that gets everyone looking for you.  Air Traffic Controllers cant ever assume that you’re fine and you probably just didnt want the service anymore.  You disappearing is the first thing that would happen if you had a problem.  So if you are NORDO or just squawk VFR on your own, people will be looking and making phone calls trying to find you. 

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