Towered vs non-towered airports for training

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by xpressmusic, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. xpressmusic

    xpressmusic Filing Flight Plan

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    hello all, i'm gonna to start my flight training with a school in florida ( with 0 to 250 hour cpl program ) but my school base airport is in non-towered airport ( Class E airspace 700 to 17,999 ft ) is that going to make any difference with my training quality or make any problem in future to my flying career ? ( is the school base airport really matters ? ) one more thing .. my school is offers the same training but in towered airport ( class D ) but for 4000$ more than the training in the non-towered one .. what is your advice ?
     
  2. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Stay at the "untowered" joint. Your CFI will expose you to tower ops. $4000 difference because of delays and taxing at the towered airport.
     
  3. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    This might be the first towered vs non-towered training thread on POA. Well, today anyway. (And thanks for saying towered rather than controlled)

    I agree with @mscard88 - go with the untowered joint.

    I'm curious about the $4k more statement. Are these "fixed price" training programs? If so, work the google button a bit on the pitfalls of those places.
     
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  4. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As I said, it's probably for the additional delays and longer taxi at controlled airport. Just a guess though. Someone got to pay!
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
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  5. xpressmusic

    xpressmusic Filing Flight Plan

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    yes they are commercial fixed price programs, they open new campus ( which at the non-towered airport ) so they offer a discount for their new campus ( 3000~4000$ )
     
  6. xpressmusic

    xpressmusic Filing Flight Plan

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    i was thinking that the towered airport will give me more experience to my flying career in the future ? ( i really don,t know that's just what i thought )
    is the base airport really matters !? or just i fly out of it and going practice outside
     
  7. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It would but it ain't worth $4000! As I said, your CFI will expose you to controlled (towered) airports anyway.
     
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  8. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Not all towered airports have the same 'training' penalty.

    Here in the DFW area, KADS is known to take longer to get in and out of than the other GA towered airports. KTKI to the NE, KRBD to the S, and just about any towered airport on the West side of the metromess are better options.
     
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  9. xpressmusic

    xpressmusic Filing Flight Plan

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    so what is your opinion about my case, i have little knowledge and no experience so i really need some advice from experienced pilots like you and others here :D
     
  10. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    On your question of Towered or Non-Towered for training, I went towered. 80% of my PPL training was from towered airports. Now I keep my plane at a non-towered field and am in a club with 2 planes at a towered field. I guess I just like talking to people on the radio?

    The fixed price training is a whole other discussion you can google or start a fresh thread for.
     
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  11. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Seems likely if it's busy. It may also be a long flight to a useful practice area.

    I learned at a busy towered airport with complex airspace. The side effect was that I never really had a problem with mic fright. I got real good on the radio really fast, as I practiced it every lesson.

    There will be SOME training at a towered airport, as it's required. But it may or may not be a lot of training. Three takeoffs and landings aren't very much.

    The "training" penalty can be counterintuitive. For instance, it's pretty quick to get out of Oakland, despite its status as a moderately busy international airport.
     
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  12. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Reminds of a story. I had this female student and we flew out of a uncontrolled field. Flew down to a controlled airport a few times to work with communications w/ controllers. Finally we set up the next lesson and I told her to fly to XYZ airport (controlled) and I would meet her at the FBO. She about freaked but I told her she'd be fine, use 'student pilot' in your communications, and I'd be waiting on you. She did fine too, probably one of the sharpest students I ever flew with. Took her up to the tower to meet the boys too.
     
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  13. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I would train at the non towered airport,with an occasional stop at a towered field. You don't want to be paying for long wait times to takeoff ,with the motor running at towered fields.
     
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  14. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    If you want to become a pro pilot, be paid a living wage for it, there is something to be said for at least starting or finishing training at towered airport.

    Just make sure you start the airplane at the tiedown, contact ground (or clearance delivery if they have one), open your Flight plan, get flight following, the whole rigamarole, follow instructions to runup, runup, position and hold etc several times at a controlled airport so you know how to do it.
    If you do your VFR training at a nontowered airport you tend to open your VFR flight plan in the air.
    If you do your IFR training at a nontowered airport you tend to pick up your clearance in the air. It works, but its not really how its usually done in the big leagues.

    I think the ideal would be to do the last part of your flight training at a towered airport and do all the radio stuff every flight possible. Or do a lot of your IFR training at a towered airport. That might be hard to arrange.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
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  15. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Does anyone fly VFR at all in the "big leagues?"

    I trained at a towered airport and still (almost) always open VFR flight plans in the air. The reason is an accurate time off. If I open on the ground and then get delayed for whatever reason, I have to contact FSS anyway to revise the arrival time.
     
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  16. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I learned on a 2500x20' uncontrolled strip in a tailwheel, as pilot, and when I'm wearing my CFI hat, for training I like uncontrolled, smaller the better.
     
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  17. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Train at the non-towered airport. Your instructor is required to take you to towered airports, and I trust that s/he will. Be comfortable in both environments.

    The only certificates I trained for at big city airports were CFII, MEL, and ATP. I can't imagine an employer attaching any significance whatever to where you train.

    Bob Gardner
     
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  18. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I would spend some time with a handheld at both airports before making up my mind where I wanted to train.

    I prefer training at a towered airport. It is nice to have someone looking out for us and discouraging people from doing things may put us at risk.

    It takes me about 15 minutes from start up to take off at the class D airport and it takes me that long to warm up and run up at a pilot controlled field.

    My clients feel less rushed on the takeoff roll when the tower is looking out for them.

    For most of the ground reference maneuvers I have practice areas outside the class D airspace so where we takeoff from isn’t that important.

    I introduce my clients to the people in the tower and they are nice about helping a student pilot with communications and figuring out what the student intended to say when they garble their radio communications.

    I find I am much busier and have to correct the client more about their radio calls when we practice at a pilot controlled airport. I have written out the calls for some clients and I feel there are more words used in radio calls at a pilot controlled field compared to a class D field.

    In my experience there are more pilots at a pilot controlled field who don’t give good radio compared to the helpful people in the control tower.

    I train out of a not very busy class D airport so others experience may be divergent.

    Some of the pilot controlled airfields I fly into are busier than the class C and D fields I frequent.
     
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  19. Rykymus

    Rykymus Line Up and Wait

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    I've done all my training at a non-towered field, and trust me, calling it uncontrolled is accurate. I also bought my plane during my training, and got signed off to fly it from my home field (which is towered) to my training field. I learned an awful lot flying out of the towered field, especially about landings, as the tower was always throwing me curve balls like extending my base, calling my turns, right traffic for the left runway, etc... It taught me to think outside the "pattern" and realize that there are many ways to land, and that "step by step by the numbers" doesn't always work.

    Three years later, I find that I prefer flying in/out of towered fields, as every close call I've ever had has been at non-towered fields because some dumba$$ didn't call their turns. It can happen at a towered airport as well, but at least you've got an extra set of eyes.

    As for quality of training, I don't think it matters much. If the extra money is not an issue, I'd go with the towered field. But then again, I like the structure and order of tower-controlled airports.
     
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  20. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ultimately it makes no difference. As a pilot you will fly into various airports with various levels of communication and complexity. Pilots who trained at nontowered airports are sometime a bit nervous flying into towered ones; but as far as I can tell, not any more than pilots who trained at towered airports are about flying into nontowered ones.

    And neither is worth a $4000 differential!

    It's all what you an your CFI make it. And as a pilot, it's about flying in and out of both enough to maintain comfort. Just like just about everything else in light general aviation.

    FWIW, my perspective is based on learning to fly at a quiet nontowered airport with an instructor who did a good job exposing me to towers (I included a Class C on one of my solo cross countries) and then flying and teaching at one of the busiest Class D airports in the US.
     
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  21. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    I got lucky...flight school was based out of a towered field but most of the time we would go depart and do most of the flight training and pattern work at a nearby uncontrolled field so I got the best of both worlds.

    I cringe when I hear of pilots that are afraid or uncomfortable going into either based on their training. That means you CFI failed you in your training. There is zero reason that your time should not be split between both.

    You do not wanna be a one trick pony when it comes to controlled/uncontrolled...but the value of one over the other is not worth $4K IMO.
     
  22. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well said Shawn.
     
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  23. jordane93

    jordane93 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As long as your CFI exposes you to both towered and non towered ops, you're good. I've seen pilots that only do non towered ops and suck when they go to a towered field and visa versa.
     
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  24. George Mohr

    George Mohr Line Up and Wait

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    I was happy to have trained out of a smaller class E field. The biggest advantage is that most are single runway affairs, and you must deal with crosswinds much more frequently. If you train at a big delta with many runways, make very sure you and your CFI seek out moderate crosswinds and short runways.
     
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  25. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The availability of multiple runway headings has much more to do with the age and history of the airport than its class of airspace.
     
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  26. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I love having a cross wind runway for training because we can practice cross wind landings when the wind is straight down the main runway.

    I love having a 150 foot wide 8,000 foot long runway for training.

    They have painted a line down the center so we can practice landing on a narrow runway without many of the risks.

    They have painted marks on the runway so we can pretend we need to be off by a particular spot or land on a particular spot without many of the risks of a short runway.

    It allows me to let the client get further into trouble before I need to intervene and I feel that makes the lesson more memorable.

    I have found practicing cross wind landings on the cross wind runway at a pilot controlled airport can lead to confusion about patterns.
     
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  27. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I learned at BJC 35 years ago. It was really the only place close by. Can't say that there was any more taxing or delay than anywhere else. Some untowered fields can get really dicey on busy days as well.
     
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  28. xpressmusic

    xpressmusic Filing Flight Plan

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    thank you all for the great feedback, i'm really really appreciated all the comments here :)
    i'm going to the non-towered which is KVNC ( venice municipal airport ) is any one have experience or information about the airport and if there any delays
    and also what educational material ( books or dvds ) you recommend that can increase my knowledge about radio communication and procedures in towered airports
     
  29. Shawn

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  30. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I trained at a Class D with lots of non-towered fields nearby. Got to learn the radio and ATC calls right away. And non-towered operations were handled pretty much every flight anyway. It just means your first takeoff and last landing of the day involve a tower.
     
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  31. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm not sure why they are charging $4k more at one place over the other. More expensive aircraft? Ask what the hourly rental charges are. That's where the costs will probably differ.
     
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  32. xpressmusic

    xpressmusic Filing Flight Plan

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  33. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Consider this: Do the training at the discounted rate, save that $4k, then use that $4k towards flying or extra training afterward.

    You will get towered airport experience, even when training at a non-towered airport, but you probably won't get as much. What bothers me are students that get NO towered experience, other than the absolute minimum required by FAA, then are too nervous to use a towered airport comfortably later. If you train at a non-towered airport and think you need more experience with a tower, tell your CFI and work something out.
     
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  34. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    If it's $4k cheaper to go non-towered do that. If you want experience talking to controllers, get a sim and log onto PilotEdge.net. After a month or two of flying on that network you'll be a pro on the radio.
     
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  35. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

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    To me, the confusing part isn't talking to the controllers. It's figuring out where to go if the taxiways are complex. But familiarity with one towered airport isn't going to help you with another's layout.
     
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  36. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer En-Route

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    Not a book or dvd, but check out liveatc.net. It's totally free, and you can sit in front of your computer and get real-time feeds from a whole bunch of different airports. Listen for a half-hour a night from a busy Class C, and you'll pick it up quick. Write down any questions about the radio calls you hear, post 'em on POA and people here will be glad to explain/clarify.
     
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  37. steviedeviant

    steviedeviant Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree with this. I had the same choice to make and decided to train at KBHM (Class C) instead of a nearby non-towered airport. I spoke with several individuals about the disadvantages and the advantages of each - and the number one reason I got for not doing it was cost. After talking with those who received their instructions are a non-towered airport, I found that the amount I paid wasn't $4k difference as mentioned in previous post. I would agree that there we are few delays that we had and in many cases we flew from KBHM to another non-towered airport to complete training. But, I wouldn't have done it any differently if I was going it all over again. Having to speak and work with ATC has made me very comfortable on the radio. Yeah, you spend more time in the air because you are vectored around sometime and you spend some time waiting, but all in all it wasn't bad - at least in my experience.
     
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  38. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    $4000 is around 20 hours of training. It's a DEAL, not a difference in cost to operate.
     
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  39. jaybee

    jaybee Cleared for Takeoff

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    To answer that with validity, we would have to know what two airports you are trying to decide between.

    For example, if one was KDAB Daytona Beach, then it is very likely you will spend 30 minutes every flight taxiing the aircraft and waiting your turn to take off.
    For example if one was a X50 Massey Ranch Airpark by the time you got to 500 feet after takeoff if you were quick enough on the radio you could directly enter the traffic pattern at KEVB New Smyrna Beach a towered field. So in that regards you can have the benefits of an uncontrolled field and if you want it a towered field is literally right there.
     
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  40. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    It's not just dealing with the tower in the pattern. Its the routine of calling ground, tower and taking off that is part of it.

    It can work either way. If you're going for a pro career, lean towards the tower work. If its just a hobby, then go non-towered. They are usually more fun!
     
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