Let's say I have business on a US military base (e.g. JBLM), and I'd like to fly a privately owned aircraft there. What is the process I follow before the flight to get approval to land, and once I'm enroute to ensure everything goes smoothly?

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    $\begingroup$ Having never done it the best advice I can offer is "Contact the base WAY before you're airborne - like weeks out - to get permission." Since you've got business on the base maybe ask the folks you're dealing with to put you in touch with the officer in charge of the field - having the request brought to them internally would probably help. If you don't get an answer & manage to find out more about the process on your own please let us know - I'm curious myself :-) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ Sneak it in really low. Stick between all the little hills on the approach and dodge between the houses, certainly not above 30 feet. At the last minute, pop it up over the fence and plonk her down. You'll be parked before anyone even notices. I'm curious to know how it goes. Let us know how it worked out ;) $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Simon It will probably help if you paint over all the markings on your aircraft and switch off your radios. :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Simon well, it worked for Red Square :) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathias_Rust $\endgroup$
    – pjc50
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 9:59

4 Answers 4


Landing at a US military base isn't all that hard (I've landed at Ft. Drum before), you just have to get prior permission (PPR) (submitted at least 30 days in advance and confirmed within 24 hours according to 32 CFR 855.8), and need to have a "good reason" (as determined by them).

32 CFR 855, Table 1 (which is quite long) includes the purposes that are normally allowed.

You will be required to submit the following forms to the base commander (See the A/FD):

32 CFR 855 contains the regulations pertaining to US Air Force airfields (and the rules are similar for each branch).

855.1 - Policy includes:

(1) Normally, landing permits will be issued only for civil aircraft operating in support of official Government business. Other types of use may be authorized if justified by exceptional circumstances. Access will be granted on an equitable basis.


(3) Any aircraft operator with an inflight emergency may land at any Air Force airfield without prior authorization. An inflight emergency is defined as a situation that makes continued flight hazardous.

855.5 - Responsibilities and authorities. includes:

(6) Will not authorize use of Air Force airfields:

(i) In competition with civil airports by providing services or facilities that are already available in the private sector.

Note: Use to conduct business with or for the US Government is not considered as competition with civil airports.

(ii) Solely for the convenience of passengers or aircraft operator.

(iii) Solely for transient aircraft servicing.

(iv) By civil aircraft that do not meet US Department of Transportation operating and airworthiness standards.

(v) That selectively promotes, benefits, or favors a specific commercial venture unless equitable consideration is available to all potential users in like circumstances.

(vi) For unsolicited proposals in procuring Government business or contracts.

(vii) Solely for customs-handling purposes.

(viii) When the air traffic control tower and base operations are closed or when a runway is restricted from use by all aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ Most of the purposes in Table 1 fall under "you have business at the base", or when due to weather or airport closure the planned destination is unavailable. This includes contractor business at a colocated private facility. It seems to me (not a lawyer) that OP would be able to fly there, provided the paperwork has been filed and accepted. $\endgroup$
    – AndrewS
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ Its funny how someone somewhere in the Government has already written a law or policy document for almost every scenario you can dream of. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ @curious_cat Username checks out :D $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 12:34

A "Joint Base" does not refer to joint military and civilian, it refers to Joint as in co-use by multiple branches of the services. If you show up unannounced as an emergency aircraft, they will not point guns at you or detain you, they will simply handle your situation, provide the help and resources you need to get the aircraft back in the air and send you in your way. There are only a couple bases that have "security at the ready" and will meet you with armed individuals. The military is not some war-crazed institution waiting to shoot people, the bases are staffed with civilian controllers as well as a military and they are there to help when and where they can in aviation. My experience flying both military and civilian aircraft for over 30 years has only produced professional accolades for the folks on the bases around the world. If you have official business, it should be easy to land there with prior permission, if not- don't go or ask. If you have an emergency, do not hesitate to use the installation, it is funded by your tax dollars and they will be happy to share.

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    $\begingroup$ I love this answer, but any chance you could include a reference, preferably military, that goes into greater detail? $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ @egid, Mr BBT said that he had experience flying military planes. Is that not a sufficient "reference?" $\endgroup$
    – Keegan
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ That's great, but as a pilot it's nice to have regs to refer to. Especially when the FAA wants your cert, or something. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 21:37

I'd never heard of JBLM but I guess you're referring to Joint Base Lewis-McChord which has the identifier KTCM? Airnav says it's joint civilian and military use, AOPA says it's private military, but the AF/D says it's joint, which should be the definitive answer.

If so, as a joint field then civilian flights should be OK but I would carefully read the entire AF/D entry as well as any other information it references and if you have any doubts or concerns at all then you should contact them in advance. Even if you don't, I would still contact them anyway and in this case the AF/D tells you to do exactly that:

tran acft parking extremely ltd. 24 hr prior coordination rqr

Landing at a private military field on the other hand would require special permission from the military which I assume is very unlikely to be granted unless you have good connections on base.

Update from an anonymous user:

The reason that AirNav says 'joint military/civillian use' is that at one time KGRF (the airfield on the Army side of JBLM, then a separate installation - Fort Lewis) had an 'Aero Club' that operated a flight school & rented Cessnas for use by the base population. They also allowed troops who owned personal aircraft to base them on field at the Aero Club.

That Aero Club facility closed due to insufficient use during the height of Iraq/AFG deployments, and with it civil use of the JBLM runways ended. The ramp space is now used by military aviation units (an Army Combat Aviation Brigade) that moved to JBLM after the Aero Club closed.

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    $\begingroup$ Back when I was a student, my instructor had a genuine emergency and had to land there unscheduled. Despite being listed as joint civ/mil, they were a little hostile there. I would not treat JBLM as a civilian airport. Its military-only. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @abelenky That's good advice, I wouldn't treat it that way either and the comment I quoted from the AF/D hopefully makes it clear that you can't just turn up unannounced. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ Note that the regulations specifically allow emergency aircraft to land at military airports. They might not like it much, but it is allowed! $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah they'll let you but even if it is an emergency I can almost guarantee you'll have security forces show up with guns at the ready if not pointed at you when you land $\endgroup$
    – SSumner
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ What would happen if you landed there without even contacting ATC? $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 12:37

The comments are all over the place on how to land a civilian aircraft onto a military airfield. Here's how you really do it: 1. Get signed copy of a DD 2400 from you insurance company. 2. Fill out DD Form 2401 and 2402. 3. Submit all forms to the military service HQ in Washington DC for the airfield you want to land on. Address is on the forms. (JBLM belongs to Army and Air Force. If you want to land on the McChord airfield, you have to have Air Force permission. Army airfield, Army permission. 4. Once permission is granted, you have to contact the airfield manager and submit documents required by the airfield manager. Bottom line: You have to have an association with the military to land your aircraft onto a military field; i.e. active duty, retired, contracted. I've been landing at military airfields for over 20 years.


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