pilot visiting atc facility

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by bavreze, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. bavreze

    bavreze Pre-Flight

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    Hi!

    i know AIM says that pilots are encouraged to visit atc facilities but does not say how or when or which.

    i went to a tower with my instructor but that was because he had a friend working there. this was like 5 years ago.

    now i'd like to see another one, or maybe an artcc. shall i just show up at the door with my pilot license and request a tour - or what is the proper approach?

    i am based in los angeles.

    thanks!
     
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  2. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't know the procedure now, but it's worth the visit, towers, approach controls, and centers. Someone will be along to tell ya!
     
  3. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 En-Route

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    Find the phone number to where you want to go and give them a call. Showing up unannounced isn't a good idea.

    OR


    Screw up in their airspace and when they "give you a number to call" apologize profusely and then ask them for a tour.
     
  4. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    LOL. I like the second one.
     
  5. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    If you're looking at an ARTCC then you better call. A small contract tower might let you up at a moments notice but the big facilities will want it scheduled, signed in and in some cases, issued a visitors badge.
     
  6. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Make a phone call,and make an appointment ,that's convenient for the facility. If you have a chance attend,a meet the controller the controller seminar. The last seminar I bought a few well placed beers for the local controllers,was well worth the money. Get invited up to the tower on a regular basis.
     
  7. \__[Ô]__/

    \__[Ô]__/ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Definitely don't just show up at the door.
    Towers should be easier to get into. Some times you can call and get invited up right away. Sometimes you'll have to set something up for later. If you are having a hard time finding the number, call the FBO on the field and ask for it.
    The ARTCCs I've been to had armed guards, metal detectors, and strict security procedures. They've had occasional tours advertised though faasafety.gov. I called to arrange a group tour once. It required a couple weeks advance notice. I do not know if that is typical.

    All the visits I've done have been great experiences.
     
  8. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Considering you're going to be driving all the way to Palmdale (LA Center) or San Diego (SoCal) call first.
     
  9. rbridges

    rbridges En-Route

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    There is a local tower at KMCN, but I'd really enjoy getting a look at one of the Atlanta ATC facilities.
     
  10. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The tower at ATL is almost 400' tall! Haven't been up there but I'm sure it's a great view. Approach is down in Peachree City by the airport, and ATL Center is in Hampton, on hwy 41? Not sure of the road but it's jut south of the Atlanta Speedway.
     
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  11. rbridges

    rbridges En-Route

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    thanks. I knew one of them was in peachtree city.
     
  12. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Call 'em up and go. ATL Tower might be a problem though, not sure how you'd get out there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  13. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    Absolutely go if you can. And yes, call ahead.
    We try to do "kinda regular" visits to towers and the TRACON in our area with local pilots. We always call weeks ahead and arrange the tour with the manager.
    Again, go if you can. Not just the OP. Everybody. It is a good experience to see "the other side" of the mike. Often it helps us understand the system better.
     
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  14. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    At most of the class D airports I have flown into the ground frequency works just fine for asking to make a visit.
    Depending on their work load the visit is usually the same day.
    It is not always easy to get the tower number. I find it a nice thing to have if I have a special request.
     
  15. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sure it is. Just blast across a hold short line and you'll get it right away.

    Or you could just ask them over ground frequency.
     
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  16. Somedudeintn

    Somedudeintn Line Up and Wait

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    One day I went to the airport to fly but the weather turned IMC. I called the tower phone number and asked if I could come over for a tour. The Class D field wasn't too busy and I probably spent an hour talking to them in between arrivals and departures. It was a good experience.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  17. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    :nod:
    BTDT, usually get a response "proceed straight ahead on Alpha to terminal parking and ring the doorbell at the base of the tower".
    I assume it won't be as easy if I asked the approach guy .... :)
     
  18. Glenn D

    Glenn D Pre-Flight

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    We had a pilots meeting last month at KEMT and a tower person was there,, Said they welcome pilots to take a look... and said 'just call", and never gave a number to call!.. She did say that it is best when there are 2 people working to cover the workload. I hope to find the number because I too would like to see what they see to try to learn.. and maybe not mess things up so bad when trying to get in to land...
     
  19. Volitation

    Volitation Pre-Flight

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    Wow. They're omnipotent!
     
  20. Somedudeintn

    Somedudeintn Line Up and Wait

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    Haha, I can always count on POA to catch my mistakes!
     
  21. Volitation

    Volitation Pre-Flight

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    Sorry, couldn't help myself. Lol.

    [​IMG]
     
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  22. bavreze

    bavreze Pre-Flight

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    i visited last time class D whiteman airport tower (los angeles)

    do you think is it worth trying to schedule a visit to lax?
     
  23. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    You can also watch for the FAASTeam sessions. They are informative and you get wings credit.
     
  24. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes. Their traffic loads are totally different, and are prototypical targets for efficiency studies. It's one of the busiest airports in the world.
     
  25. airdale

    airdale Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    In addition to a generic tour, at both a TRACON and at an ARTCC you should ask (ahead of time) if you can "plug in" with a controller for an hour or two. (Towers are great fun for rubbernecking but, frankly, in a busy Class B tower nobody has time to chitchat or answer questions in any detail.) "Plugged in" means just that. They give you a headset and you plug into one of the open jacks and hear everything the controller does. I say that the TRACON is like rugby and Center is like chess, but even the rugby players will have pauses where they can answer questions and explain things. At a Center there are often two controllers per sector. One is on the radio and the other is "Data." Both will be happy to answer questions and usually (my experience) have more time to do so. Any of the controllers will have good war stories: "One time I was ... "

    One useful thing to understand is how handoffs work. IIRC they call it "shipping" the target. So when one controller ships you to the next one (maybe in a different facility), you will understand the process and the timing. This is true with FF and when on an IFR clearance. Also ask about FF and the differences in how you are handled (there aren't many). You will also learn how much time they spend on the land lines -- when it's quiet on the radio but your callup is not answered immediately it's probably because the controller is on one of his/her many land lines.
     
  26. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    I was going to post about this topic but just saw this thread and decided I would just add it here. I have long be curious to see the "other side of the mic". Was at a local Class D airport today (for my day job) and had some extra time. I thought I would ask the lady at the FBO desk to call up to the tower and see if I could get a tour. The controllers agreed and up I went. They were extremely friendly and showed me quite a few things about how they operate. One of the controllers had been at Charlotte Douglas for 30 years and gave some perspective on how things work in Class B as well. This particular airport (KJQF) gets pretty busy on Thursday afternoon so it was a good learning experience all around. I've always had no doubt controllers had a lot going on but it definitely gave me an even greater appreciation for it. I would HIGHLY suggest anyone that gets the chance to do the same. I think now I will try to check out a center one of these days too.
     
  27. ATC_av8er

    ATC_av8er Pre-Flight

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    Just give us a call. At a smaller airport, you can usually ask for the phone number right on the GC frequency. At the bigger airports, or during a busy time, the FBO or flight schools usually have a number they can give you. As mentioned, at an airport like mine, we can typically arrange a visit with a 15-20 minute heads-up. The bigger facilities, you must make an appointment, especially for those towers behind TSA (DEN and DTW spring to mind). ARTCC's and stand-alone approach control facilities will be the same way. Even before I became a controller, I never had any problems arranging visits.
     
  28. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    Thanks for the info. Work takes me about a mile from the Atlanta ARTCC in Hampton every year, I think next March I will schedule an appointment and check it out.
     
  29. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    It's just as easy as walking up to a stranger's door, knocking and expecting to be invited in for dinner, drinks and to bang the women of the house. No need to call ahead or build a relationship or anything of that nature. Just do it! :confused:

    Geesh.

    Pick up the damn phone, make a call, ask politely and schedule a date and time. Simple!
     
  30. Ryanb

    Ryanb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Agree with everyone here, so i wont reiterate everything. Call beforehand for sure. The local class C where im at has a contract tower and ironically my dad happened to meet a controller in his business and we were able to get a tour of the tracon and tower. They seemed happy to give a tour, just dont overstep your bounds. Its a government facility so they have certain guidelines. Surprisingly they still will give tours and let non-employees in considering 911 and all of the TSA stuff. I would love to get a tour of an artcc someday!
     
  31. sferguson524

    sferguson524 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Back in the day (think early-mid 90's), I just walked up to the door at the base of the tower at CRQ and picked up the phone on the wall and asked for a tour. Got to spend a bunch of time with the controllers, and learned a ton!
     
  32. Flying Scotsman

    Flying Scotsman Filing Flight Plan

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    One thing that won't apply to 99% of the people on this forum is that you must be an American Citizen to enter these facilities. Being here legally with a work VISA or a Legal Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) does not allow you to enter these facilities even as part of a pre-arranged group visit. I visited Houston ARTCC back in 1998 it is well worth the visit to see how the other side of the mic works.
     
  33. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Somehow I got onto an e-mailing list and I get notified of upcoming ARTCC tours at KC Center as well as TRACON tours at MCI.

    I think there is somewhere on this website where you can find that info:

    https://www.faasafety.gov/

    Tours of TRACON and ARTCC (Operation Raincheck) are typically set up in advance by the facility for a group of around 20 or so. You'll get an email notice a month or so in advance, and you have to register immediately because they fill up within minutes.

    Normally, these tours will need your personal ID info in advance before they'll let you enter.

    If you don't know how to sign up for notice, you can probably find a phone number at the facility and someone might have a contact for you.

    As for towers, at Class D you might be able to call the tower directly and ask about setting up a time. I've been in the local D tower a couple of times, and both times I called from the FBO after I got back from a local flight and they let me right in.
     
  34. kkoran

    kkoran Cleared for Takeoff

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    Vi
    Visits by non-US citizens can be arranged, but take a some coordination and approval.
     
  35. Unit74

    Unit74 En-Route

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    You a Pinnacle Aviation graduate? Was that C337 all ratted out right in front of the tower? 99-01 I trained/flew out of CRQ.
     
  36. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Flew in the T-6 at CRQ back in 99. Good times.
     
  37. Cpt_Kirk

    Cpt_Kirk En-Route

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    I have visited the TRACON facility in PTC a few years ago. If you plan your visit on a slow day, everyone has more time to talk. We toured with the facility manager because of a mutual contact. However, our visit was still planned in advance.

    I visited ZTL (Atlanta ARTCC) a couple of weeks ago over in Hampton, GA. It's a 5-minute drive from Tara Field (4A7) but you wouldn't want to make the walk. It was quite the experience. I didn't learn much more than I already knew as far as aircraft operation is concerned, but I did get to see what exactly was going on behind the scenes as well as some other neat facts. One being that I didn't know every ARTCC is staffed with a full-time meteorologist working strictly with the controllers on how to effectively reroute aircraft within a certain area. If you're familiar with NOAA Flight 42, the meteorologist I met was in the C-130 that aided the NOAA's damaged P-3 safely out of the eye of Hurricane Hugo which I thought was awesome. I probably would have spent the entire visit speaking with him if I was given the chance.

    Here's the video on that:


    Anyway, I gave the center controller I was talking to a call over the radio (while in cruise) and asked about a visit that same day because I had the afternoon off. He was hesitant at first, but for whatever reason they approved a visit that same day. In the future, I would still plan on scheduling a visit at least one day out. I've attached a couple of screenshots of the locations of facilities in relation to airports nearby. I wasn't allowed to bring my phone into the ARTCC. Wasn't given much of a reason but I can think of a few.


    Altanta Center next to 4A7:

    Atlanta ARTCC.jpg


    Atlanta Approach/Departure next to KFFC:

    Atlanta TRACON.jpg
     
  38. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ATL TRACON was created years ago (10 or so?) by combining ATL, CSG, and MCN TRACONs into the one you visited in Peachtree City.
     
  39. sferguson524

    sferguson524 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I am. last flew with them back in 2002 :)
     
  40. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    Good info, I find myself right there once a year for work and didn't it was there until after the last time I was there back in March. Definitely planning a tour myself next time. I will be sure to give them a call a couple of days ahead of time. Any particular days of the week better than others?