Poll: Should New Pilots Learn at Towered or Non-Towered Airports?


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  1. Close friend got his PPL and IR at our local non-towered drome. His ATC communication skills are challenged, at best. And, we are close to Class Bravo airspace. He’ll catch up but he is behind the expected level of competence. He is a shy guy and I don’t think that helps.

  2. I learned to fly in Northwest New Jersey in the 80’s, starting out in a basic J-3 on a 1900′ turf field. When I graduated to the Skyhawk, my lessons started working their way towards the Lehigh Valley and KABE. Pete, my instructor, would tune in KABE and we’d listen to approach, departure, and tower, and I’d get running commentary on it. I learned to subconsciously hear what was going on while I paid attention to the lesson at hand. Before long, we were flying into the “big airport”. Sometimes we’d taxi to the gen-av ramp and listen to the goings on for a bit; sometimes we’d do a touch and go, and eventually we’d shoot an approach or two. By the time I acquired my SEL ticket, I was fairly comfortable at towered fields…more so than at some busy uncontrolled fields near or with available food!

  3. When I restarted training a few decades ago, knowing I would be flying out of KLUK, I bought a scanner and listed to ATC for probably hundreds of hours. I’m actually more comfy with someone to talk to; I use FF for anything beyond local when VFR.

  4. I don’t think it makes much difference. I learned to fly at a busy uncontrolled field. Learning communication with towered fields was just another skill needed to be mastered for the private checkride. I have seen my share of pilots who learned at controlled fields and couldn’t talk to ATC very well. On the other hand I have seen pilots who are comfortable with talking to the tower and are petrified at dealing with uncontrolled field operations.