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6 Tips To Help You Fly Through Complex Airspace

Complex airspace can feel daunting. Here are 6 easy-to-use tips to help you get more comfortable flying through it.

1) Pre-Plan Your Route

Planning your route ahead of time allows you to know what airspace you'll transition through. And when you know the airspace to expect on your flight, you're staying ahead of the airplane.

If you're using ForeFlight, pre-program your route in the EFB's flight plan, and use the "Profile View" for a breakdown of the airspace you'll fly through.


2) Speak Up

The busy airspace of terminal areas like Chicago, Miami, or San Fransisco can feel intimidating. You're oftentimes hearing airliners and business jets, but remember, your transmissions carry the same weight as theirs.

When you make a call, don't rush. It takes longer to repeat a clearance from ATC then does to say it one time clearly.


3) Take An Experienced Pilot With You

If you're still feeling unsure about your flight, ask an experienced pilot. If you think that you might not be ready to deal with the workload solo, bring along an instructor or a safety pilot.

Another set of eyes and ears can help you spot potential mistakes.


4) Pick Up Flight Following

Communicating your intended route and destination ahead of time helps reduce workload on controllers, and in turn, will help minimize questions about your intentions.


5) Don't Forget About Special Use Airspace

It's easy to overfocus on airspace like Class B or C. But don't forget about other airspace that you might need to avoid, like restricted areas and TFRs.


6) Listen Closely

While this might not warrant enforcing a sterile cockpit, it's important to make sure you are on the top of your radio communications game. You don't want to irritate controllers by missing your radio calls and making ATC repeat them.


Want to learn more about complex airspace? Sign up for our National Airspace System online course here.

Nicolas Shelton

Nicolas is a flight instructor from Southern California. He is currently studying aviation at Purdue University. He's worked on projects surrounding aviation safety and marketing. You can reach him at

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