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First trip into Class B

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I'm planning my first flight into Class B airspace soon, to Boeing Field (KBFI), which has its own Class D but is within the Class B for Sea-Tac (KSEA).  I regard this as my final exam in VFR communication and, as my C.O. used to say, I'm nervous as a communist at a southern election.  Well, not really nervous, but a bit apprehensive that I don't make an idiot of myself in the eyes of ATC.  Here are my concerns:

1) I will request Flight Following all the way, and hopefully be able to get it.  Once I am in touch with Seattle Center and get clearance to enter the Class B airspace, should I expect to be given vectors right up to the traffic pattern at Boeing, or at least to a point where I can figure out how to enter the pattern for the assigned runway?  Ideally I should be able to figure out where to go using my own judgment and the A/FD, but what is the likelihood I will need to, as opposed to being vectored around Sea-Tac's busy traffic by ATC?

2) If Approach Control doesn't tell me exactly when to contact Seattle and get clearance into the Class B, at what point should I initiate a call?  At the Mode C veil?

3) One possible route would lead me right over the Class C airspace of Portland (KPDX).  If the upper limit of Class C is 4,000, and I am cruising well above that altitude, do I just ignore it completely (other than keeping my eyes and ears open) or do I need to contact PDX simply because I am overhead?

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1 Answers

  1. Bob Watson on Jun 13, 2012

    The Seattle Class B has been pretty accomodating the last few times I’ve flown through it. Just remember that they are busy and you’ll need listen closely. Whatever you do… DO NOT ENTER THE CLASS B until you hear the magic words “Cleared to operate in the Class B airspace.” (usually preceded by a transponder code if you don’t have one already). My favorite trip is the VFR transitions from east to west and west to east that take you right over SeaTac. That’s always impresses me and is a big hit with passengers.
    There’s no reason to feel nervous, just make sure you’re communications are professional and to the point. They’re moving a lot of planes so they’ll expect you to keep up.
    It’s up to you to make sure you hear the magic words. ATC might help you out or they might not. Bottom line, it’s your problem/responsibility, either way. When should you call? Far enough in advance to get clearance before you enter. Figure it might take a couple of minutes, you’re going 2-3 miles a minute, so before 5 miles out from the nearest boundary. If you don’t get clearance, you’ll need to be ready to turn around and/or orbit outside until you do.
    1) Even with flight following, you’ll want to be proactive on this. Keep an eye on your map. When you contact the, tell them you’re @ x-thousand, VFR to Boeing Field. That’ll let them know what your plan is. When they call you back, they’ll tell you what they expect. Depending on their workload, they might just vector you out the bottom and send you on your way VFR. It just depends.
    2) see above. Remember that it’s always your responsibility to get clearance to enter the Class B.
    3) if you’re above the Class C, you don’t need to talk to the Class C controller.
    Have a good trip and welcome to Seattle!

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