Airport Operations

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Chart Supplement – This document contains information (airport diagrams, runway information and lengths, field elevation, communication and weather frequencies, and any other pertinent information) about all of the airports in the United States. It is split into regions: the East Central US version contains airports in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Copies are available for downloaded from the FAA website. Paper copies can be purchased from almost any flight store. Electronic versions are available in ForeFlight and possibly other apps. The chart supplement is updated every 56 days. It is your responsibility to have a current, up-to-date version. Because the chart supplement is updated more frequently than charts, you should always read through the Aeronautical Chart Bulletins section to mark up your charts as needed.

The FAA Taxi Test – this (~1 hour long) video will provide you with extremely useful information about how to taxi around at an airport. If you don’t know what all of the painted markings or signs at your local airport mean, this will help you out. Runway incursions are serious business, so ensure that you understand airport markings before you get into an accident.

Runway Safety: From the Flight Deck – these videos show actual runway approach, departure, and hot spots of actual airports. As of July 2020, Aurora airport should be added in the near future.

Runway Safety Simulator – Try out these simulations to see if you can correctly follow ATC instructions to taxi to a runway.

Runway Safety Challenge Quiz – How well do you know airport signs and markings? Take this quiz by the FAA to find out!

Airport sign and marking – quick reference guide (PDF) – A handy quick reference to common signs and markings at airports. Be sure you know what these mean before you get into the airplane and start taxiing around!

Where They Come From – If you have an EAA membership, this article from the February 2019 issue of EAA’s Sport Aviation magazine explains that aircraft coming in to land at non-towered airports can be arriving on instrument approaches. It’s beneficial for VFR pilots to get some understanding of what this means so that we know what the instrument pilots are saying. This article helps with that understanding.

D.I.Y. Fueling – If you’re flying solo or with non-pilot passengers, don’t get into a situation where you’re at an airport away from home and in need of gas without knowing how to use the fuel pump! This article explains how to fill up at a self-serve station. Make sure you know what kind of gas your aircraft requires before you fill the tank(s)! Consider asking a flight instructor to show you how to do this before you have to do it alone.

Tour a Control Tower – Take a tour of a control tower! I highly recommend this if you regularly (or even non-regularly) fly out of a towered airport. A great airport to do this at is Aurora Airport as it is not usually too busy. Call before you go.

LiveATC.net allows you to listen to air traffic control frequencies. Listen to Aurora Airport’s control tower (120.6 MHz) or DuPage Airport’s control tower (120.9 MHz) to get an idea of the radio communications required at a class D airport. Midway Airport (135.2) or Champaign Airport (120.4) give you an idea of class C radio operations (with Midway being a much busier airport). Getting a good handle on radio communication is essential for pilots, and one way you can learn how to do it is to listen to how other pilots communicate with ATC.

Aurora Airport Control Tower Guidelines – This is a list of guidelines you should use when communicating with Aurora tower. It’s worth reading over, especially if you’re just getting started with radio ops, or if you could use a refresher.

Aircraft Wake Turbulence (AC 90-23) – This advisory circular published by the FAA contains information about wake turbulence and how to avoid it. If you plan to fly out of busy airports that have jet traffic (or any airplanes that are much larger than yours), then you will need to understand wake turbulence and how to steer clear of its effects.

Non-Towered Airport Flight Operations (AC 90-66) – This advisory circular published by the FAA is extremely useful if you plan to fly into any non-towered airports (which constitute the majority of airports in the United States). Everything from radio communications to how to enter the traffic pattern is covered in this essential AC.

Non-Towered Airport Incidents – This edition of NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System Callback magazine deals with incidents that occurred at non-towered airports. Learn from the mistakes of others by reading about them.

Airnav.com contains information about both public and private airports around the world. Use it to obtain the same types of information as the chart supplement.

A Complete Guide to Decoding NOTAMs – This blog post (and e-book) is essential reading for helping you understand NOTAMs. Remember, as pilot in command, you will be responsible for knowing the NOTAMs. So read them!

Related & Recommended Books

  • Say Again, Please: Guide to Radio Communications by Bob Gardner
  • Pilot Radio’s Communications Handbook by Paul E. Illman