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This Is How Class G Airspace Works

Boldmethod

Class G airspace is the only form of "uncontrolled" airspace in the United States. It isn't charted, and it exists wherever Class A, B, C, D or E doesn't. But to truly understand Class G airspace, it helps to understand Class E airspace first. And it's your lucky day, because we have an article just for that: http://www.boldmethod.com/learn-to-fly/airspace/class-e/

What Is Class G Airspace?

Like Class E airspace, you can fly through Class G airspace at airports (the "terminal environment") and while en-route. However, Class G airspace isn't controlled. Neither VFR (Visual Flight Rules) nor IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) aircraft need an ATC clearance to operate in Class G airspace.

How To Find It

Class G airspace exists wherever Class A, B, C, D or E airspace doesn't. Practically, it starts at the surface and extends up until it hits Class E airspace. On a map, Class G's ceiling is the floor of Class E airspace. And, it's always exclusive. For example, if Class E starts at 700 feet AGL, Class G goes up to, but doesn't include, 700 feet AGL.

Class G airspace is most easily found on a sectional map when a fading, thick blue line appears. This line shows enroute Class E airspace starting at 1,200 ft AGL on the soft side of the boundary. What's below it? Class G.

There's a Class E/G boundary on the hard side of the line as well. In this case, Class E starts at 14,500 feet MSL, and Class G is below it.

It's pretty easy to find these airspace markings in the Western US, but on the East Coast, it's rare to find airspace designated in this way. In the sections below, you'll find out how to find it regardless of whether it's marked on your map.

Class G Up To 700' AGL

If Class E starts at 700' AGL, Class G starts at the surface and extends to - but doesn't include - 700' AGL. This is called a 'transition area', where VFR and IFR traffic are separated around an airport to avoid conflicts or collisions.

Class G Up To 1,200' AGL

In the airspace highlighted below, Class E starts at 1,200' AGL, so Class G automatically starts at the surface and extends to - but doesn't include - 1,200' AGL.

Weather Requirements

Class G minimum weather requirements exist so that you can see and avoid other aircraft and stay out of the clouds. Let's break the minimums down into three major categories:

1) 1,200 feet AGL and lower



2) Above 1,200 feet AGL, but lower than 10,000 feet MSL



3) 10,000 feet MSL or higher

So why is there a difference in weather minimums at different altitudes? Because starting at 10,000' MSL, you can fly faster than 250 knots, and you need more visibility and distance from the clouds to see and avoid other aircraft.

Communications

Do you hear that? Neither did we. That's because you don't need to talk to anybody in Class G airspace. However, when you're flying into an uncontrolled Class G airport, we recommend that you communicate your position at all times.

If you're landing at an airport in Class G airspace, you don't need to talk to anyone or make any radio calls. However, it's strongly recommended you do. The AIM suggests that you make position calls around the airport at these points:

  • 10 miles away from the field
  • 5 miles away from the field
  • Airfield overflight (if necessary)
  • 45 degree entry to the downwind
  • Downwind
  • Base
  • Final

Restrictions

In Class G, you can't fly faster than 250 knots when you're below 10,000' MSL. By limiting planes from going faster than 250 knots below 10,000', it's easier for planes to see and avoid each other, helping reduce the chance of mid-air collisions.

Equipment

If you're below 10,000 feet MSL, there's NO required equipment. But if you're 10,000 feet MSL or higher, and more than 2,500 feet AGL, you'll need a Mode-C transponder. Fortunately, that's not too much to keep track of.

Easy enough, right?

The boundaries where controlled vs. uncontrolled airspace start often have pilots second guessing where they are. But in reality, Class G airspace isn't hard to master at all. Just think about your altitude, and the airspace you're in. Before you know it, you'll have it all down.

Looking For More Info?

Want to learn more about airspace? Try our National Airspace System online course. With tons of quizzes and simple explanations, it's an easy way to get ready for your next checkride or flight review.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and commercial pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He holds multi-engine and instrument ratings, and is an aviation student at the University of North Dakota. He's the author of the articles, quizzes and lists you love to read every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures at http://www.swaynemartin.com.

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