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I would love to practice within towered airspace (approaches, touch and goes, ect.) However, I do not want to upset operations within the airspace.

What is the best way to determine when the best time to practice these maneuvers would be? Should I contact both the tower and TRACON?

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Non-commercial towered airports are good at about midday. – SMS von der Tann Mar 12 at 17:04
Good info. How about commercial? Particularly class C? – Yogwhatup Mar 12 at 17:06
From what I know about KMHT (Manchester-Boston Regional Airport), the traffic is more consistent there but evenings are usually more busy. – SMS von der Tann Mar 12 at 17:12
As well as asking someone directly, you should also check the A/FD: some airports have restrictions on training flights or T&Gs at certain times. – Pondlife Mar 12 at 18:08
@Pindlife Great point! – Yogwhatup Mar 12 at 18:11
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Simplest answer: Call the tower. Or ask instructors/schools in the area if the controllers care when you arrive and want to practice. Usually if you arrive during the busiest time, you'll likely be accommodated as best as they can, but there's a chance you could be told to just do a full-stop taxi-back operation if that helps out or told to go fly around elsewhere for a bit.

It depends on what airport you're thinking about going to. If you want to go to ATL, well, you'll be vectored in a gap, and told go as fast as you can for as long as you can, and be told to land(or if you go around, expect a long delay to find a new gap). If it's just a general aviation airport, anytime is fine.

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Great info - thanks :) – Yogwhatup Mar 12 at 17:14
Yeah, I don't think ATL would be too happy about you requesting to do touch-and-gos there. You might get some laughter just before the "Request denied," though. – reirab Mar 13 at 0:33
@reirab It's published in the AFD, for the no T/Gs, and many other large mostly Class B airports it's explicitly stated, no T/Gs and/or practice approaches. – slookabill Mar 13 at 1:02
@slookabill Indeed it is. The $9/gal 100LL price also gives a good indication of how much they appreciate light aircraft landing there. :) Student pilots are also banned completely from ATL, IIRC. – reirab Mar 13 at 18:50
@reirab - although still not quite as hostile as Heathrow's "Just go away" attitude to GA :p – Jon Story Mar 15 at 12:23

I did most of my training at a towered airport in Class D airspace (KPNE). From my experience there is no "best time" (although there are times when the airspace is more empty) and for what it's worth I found it better to train when the airport was busy as it offered me the chance to practice some real world scenarios.

Running laps in the pattern when no one was around did not really build up my communication skills with the tower as they basically would just clear you for the option every time. When there were other planes in the area they might extend a leg of your pattern or have you do a 180, and these scenarios were better practice in my opinion. Crowded radio frequencies also keeps you on your toes and gets you better practice (especially if there are some similar tail numbers in the area).

You will not be upsetting operations by any means. ATC is there to handle you and frankly it's always good to practice being diverted (if that's what happens) in a busy airspace so you will know how to handle it when you get out on your own missions.

Class C/D space airports generally run a lot of large private traffic and some scheduled carriers. I found that KPNE and KABE (if I wanted to practice in class C) were heavier later in the day and early in the morning as would be logically expected. But to be honest there were plenty of times a bunch of planes would come in all at once mid day and it would be quiet the rest of the day.

If you are a student pilot (you did not say in your question) you can identify yourself as such when entering the airspace and when getting on with the tower. In most cases it will make them a bit more forgiving if you ask for an instruction repeat or don't understand something.

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I did all my training in the NYC area from airports with towers. KMMU and KCDW. There was no such thing as a good time (other than 2am to 5 am). For my first solo, I was number 14 to land. Both of those airports share the same approach control frequency as KEWR. If you want to do an approach, you had to do it in traffic. You'd be the only person doing the LOC or ILS at KMMU/KCDW but you'd be sharing the frequency with non-stop approaches to KEWR.

I'd suggest getting some training with an instructor at a busy airport with a tower.

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