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10 Things You Should Do Before Flying Into An Unfamiliar Airport

Flying somewhere new? Here are 10 tips to make sure you're ready.

1) Review The Airspace

If you're flying into new and busy airspace, familiarize yourself with the types of airspace you'll transition through, as well as the surrounding airports before you take off.


2) Have A Taxi Diagram Ready To Go

Make sure you have a taxi diagram downloaded or in paper form with you. There's no better way to feel lost than exiting the runway only to find a maze of taxiways and no way to get a good overview.


3) Call Ahead

If you're planning to stop at an FBO, call ahead to verify opening and closing times, fuel prices, and ramp/hangar availability.


4) Know Anyone Who's Flown There?

If you know a pilot that's been to the airport, ask them what to expect, or if there's any unique challenges about flying in. Calling the FBO can help with this too.


5) Study Arrival And Departure Procedures Before You Fly

Some airports have VFR arrival and departure procedures. Read through them before you take off. If there are waypoints or reporting points you don't recognize, look them up online.


6) Check NOTAMs

It goes without saying, but checking NOTAMs is always a good idea, especially when flying into an unfamiliar airport. Pay special attention to runway, taxiway, and navigational equipment closures.


7) Are There Unique Local Weather Patterns?

Many airports are known for unique wind and weather patterns at certain times of the day and year. Consider looking up some details before you take off. Better yet, call the FBO before you go and talk to a local pilot.

Live from the Flight Deck

8) Double Check Your Airplane's Performance

You're probably comfortable with takeoff and landing distances for your local airports, but remember to check performance calculations as you fly into a new airport, especially those on hot days at high elevations.


9) Progressive Taxiing Is Always An Option

If you get lost during taxi at a large, unfamiliar airport, stop where you are. Take a second to figure out your position and taxi route, and consider asking ground for a progressive taxi if you need it.


10) If ATC Directs You To Local Waypoints, Tell Them You're Unfamiliar And Request Vectors

One of the most common problems you'll face flying into new airports is ATC directing you to local landmarks or waypoints. If you're unfamiliar, it's much better to let them know right away than to get confused, lost, and cause a traffic conflict.


What else should you do? Tell us in the comments below!

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