I’m an instrument rated pilot and I plan on taking my family flying for the first time soon. I fly out of FCM airport underlying the Minneapolis Bravo and I wanted to take my family on a flight over the city of Minneapolis. I’ve heard other pilots request a “city tour” while flying before and I didn’t want to go into it confused so how would I approach requesting clearance to overfly the city(which falls into the Class B)?
In my experience there are a few things you should do:
- Talk with a local, experienced CFI to find out what the typical course of the "city tour" is. When I was flying out of KPNE near Philly they had a similar clearance that was basically a loop over downtown avoiding some key KPNE points. I was shown the course by my CFI and subsequently flew it with others. Most local pilots knew the course.
- Explain to your passengers the tour is clearance based and you may or may not get cleared in the air. This avoids them bothering you mid flight if you don't get clearance
- Take off and request a bravo clearance with a "city tour", you will likely get an "affirmative cleared for the city tour" from ATC. You may also get specific instructions like "stay north of XXXXX or west of XXXX" etc.
- For this kind of operation, VFR, load permitting, I'd get flight following as well.
Note: You can always start the tour well outside the Bravo, get on with approach for flight following and try to coordinate with them. You will also find it's easier to do these things early in the morning or later at night when the Bravo airspace tends to be less busy.
Since you're IFR rated you can also file an IFR flight plan with direct routing over the city and try to get cleared for it. This, of course, is not a guarantee but for IFR pilots is a possibility. I fly in the NYC area a lot now and when it's busy I generally get vectored around the Bravo but if I file at an off hour it's more than likely I'll get to go through it with pretty decent city views.