If you’re learning to fly, there are many considerations when choosing a flying school, an instructor, an airplane and an airport. When it comes to which airport to choose, you’ll want to think about the benefits of towered airports versus non-towered airports. Fullerton Municipal Airport in Orange County, California is an excellent learning airport for many reasons. Just one of which is because it is a towered airport.
Of course, the weather in southern California is perfect for learning to fly. Almost all year round, you get good flying days. However, today, we’re talking about choosing a towered airport when you’re working on private pilots’ license. But why is that? People might argue that without having to deal with a tower and the complicated communications that come along with a tower, you get to learn much faster. Plus, you’re not locked in to waiting for clearances and following instructions.
I have spoken to many private pilots who have learned in many different environments. What I have discovered is the pilots that come from non-towered airports and enter towered airport environments, they tend to have communication problems. Whether that’s a fear or simply a lack of self confidence, it amounts to the same result. This is not always the case and some people come in to flight training with their own assertiveness but this is a small subset of student pilots.
As a student pilot, when you’re first exposed to the busy airspace this southern or northern California, it can feel like drink water from a fire hose. The confidence to speak to ATC will have to come with time. These controllers are good at what they do and they are very busy. Sometimes so busy that you wonder if they are even taking time to catch their breath. If you’re unsure of what you’re going to say or how to make a request, the whole situation becomes intimidating. If you’re shy, that just adds to the anxiety of it all.
So, how do you overcome this? The answer is to start your training at a towered airport. Even though this can be a little bit overwhelming at the start, the good news is that your instructor or CFI will be there to handle those communications at first. The good new is that you are exposed to the comms from day one. You’ll hear how they are speaking. You’ll subconsciously start to process the intonations, the inflections and cadence of the interactions. You’ll hear the tower or controller respond. You will soon realize how second nature it all becomes over time. Yes, you’ll still be overwhelmed the first time you’re expected to dial up ground control and call for your own clearance. But don’t worry, ground will be a bit more forgiving then tower. And tower will be understanding when you announce, “student pilot” before each call.
The key here is to get going on your towered communications from the outset of you pilot training. Learn to fly in an immersive environment such as a towered airport like Fullerton, CA. Later, you’ll appreciate that you didn’t have a skill left behind where you need to fill in the gaps on your own after you’ve passed your checkride. A well rounded pilot has sound communications skills on the radios and knows how to be assertive and to the point.
Fun Outside provides private pilot, instrument pilot and commercial pilot training at Fullerton Municipal Airport in Fullerton, California. Contact us today for your own personal Discovery Flight and see if we’re a good fit for your pilot journey.