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10 Ways To Stay Safe Flying Into Non-Towered Airports

When you're in charge of sequencing yourself for landing, there are a few things you need to stay on top of.

1) Make your radio calls

Making radio calls in an non-towered environment is essential for both your safety and the safety of others. The more you announce your position, the less likely another pilot will be confused about your location.

Barnaby Kerr

2) Know where you are

Knowing where you are at all times is especially important when you're approaching the airport environment. Being confused of your location in areas with high traffic congestion isn't a good idea. Using pilotage and automation to safely arrive into a non-towered airport.

Mark Harkin

3) Know where the traffic is

You need to be both offensive and defensive, meaning not only do you need to know where you are, but you must also know where other traffic is. This prevents "close calls" with other traffic, especially in a non-towered environment.

Alan Wilson

4) Get familiar with the airport layout

As with any airport, towered or non-towered, you need to be familiar with what to expect when you are approach an airport. Looking for landmarks such as lakes, roads, beacons, and of course runways is a good way to orient yourself when approaching the terminal environment.

A tip to remember is that when using an airport diagram, make sure you orient the diagram so that it matches up with the direction you are approaching the airport.


5) Make yourself visible

You want to make yourself as visible as possible, especially at night. Along with making position reports, remember to use the appropriate lights on your aircraft. This will help other traffic locate you and provide an extra layer of safety.

martin cruze

6) Be prepared to coordinate with traffic

Some non-towered airports can have quite a bit of traffic going into them. Being prepared to coordinate with other traffic, such as extending your downwind for departing or arriving aircraft.

Bob Adams

7) Stay ahead of the aircraft

Completing checklists, configuring the aircraft, receiving weather and making radio calls should be done early. The further you are ahead of your plane, and more time you have to communicate with other aircraft in the area.

Pattharapong Sittirach

8) Choose the right runway

At a non-towered field, it's your responsibility to choose the best suitable runway. After considering aspects such as runway length, condition, grade, and direction, the you need to set up and execute the landing on the runway while coordinating with traffic that may also be approaching the field.


9) Always update your weather

At non-towered fields, ASOS and AWOS are usually the primary weather reporting stations that are available. These stations update their weather every minute - this is especially helpful with determining varying wind conditions.

Aeroklub Praha Latnany

10) Fly over the field

While entering in on a 5-mile final might seem convenient, it leaves you in a vulnerable position where you may be unaware of the runway conditions and other traffic. Flying over the field at 500 to 1000 feet above traffic pattern altitude can give you a good view of the runway, and determine if it's suitable to land on. This, along with a good understanding of the weather conditions, will give you a greater safety margin when flying into a non-towered field.

Corey Komarec

How else do you prepare for arrival into a non-towered airport? Tell us in the comments below.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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