Given two class delta airports that share a boundary, say you wanted to transition through one to land at the other. Who would you call first? The transitioning controller, or the destination controller?

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Example: approaching KOXR from the east for landing through KCMA, VFR w/o flight-following. Could the KOXR controller clear me through KCMA airspace? Being conservative, I suppose I could call both but wonder if I'd have time for a frequency change before entering KOXR.

  • $\begingroup$ Why not just call SoCal approach on 120.4 and let them handle the transition? $\endgroup$ – JScarry Feb 15 '17 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ I used to fly into the LA area frequently and only rarely did they not give me flight following. I never had them drop me on the way into the LA area. If you get flight following from your departure airport they probably won’t drop you because they’d rather know what you are going to do than have you do unexpected things. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Feb 15 '17 at 2:08

You should contact the tower of the Delta you intend on transitioning through/entering first. Tell them you want to transition through their airspace. If they clear you to enter their airspace you can request a frequency change while still inside the first delta and contact the second. This is the same procedure as say departing a Delta that abuts a Bravo then taking a Bravo transition. You could also ask for a handoff to the second delta from the controller at the first.

For example I fly out of KPNE often a Delta abutting a Bravo, if I want to fly south through the bravo before take off I can call the tower with something along the lines of,

"Archer 123PB holding short at 33 ready for departure to the south to KWWD. Can I get a bravo handoff as well?"

An example in your case might be

Camarillo tower, Piper 123PB 5 miles to the east looking to transition through your airspace to KOXR

The tower may respond with

Piper 123PB approved as requested maintain 1500 ft. hold course and overfly the field

Then as you are a bit more east (most likely past the field in this case)

Camarillo tower requesting frequency change


Frequency change approved

You can then call OXR with

Oxnard tower Piper 123PB 3 miles to the east inbound for a landing at OXR with information {current AITS}

This is going to happen fast and you will need your frequencies in hand for this. You can ask the first tower for a handoff which they may orchestrate but you should be prepared for both options. If you have some kind of a pre-programmable radio this is a great example of where queueing up your frequencies will help.

Your other option (in this specific case) weather permitting you could overfly KCMA above 2000 ft. since the delta ends at 2000 Ft. and simply request entrance to the second delta. In this case you never actually enter the first delta and no clearance is required.

In some cases, there are prior agreements that may not match the charts for adjacent airspaces.

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    $\begingroup$ +1, although to be completely accurate you don't need a clearance for class D so the controller is more likely to respond "Piper 123PB, approved as requested, maintain 1500' etc." As soon as you hear your callsign, you're good to enter. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Feb 15 '17 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife you are correct, I have heard it both ways but I will adjust since your quote is a bit more accurate. $\endgroup$ – Dave Feb 15 '17 at 3:31
  • $\begingroup$ "You can ask the first tower for a handoff" I haven't heard of such a thing. $\endgroup$ – David May 24 '17 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ Please do not EVER say the leading "Kilo" over the air to any controller who works in the Lower 48, and if you're talking about local airports (certainly within 30-40 miles of where you are, probably farther) it's easier and quicker to just say the name instead of the identifier. $\endgroup$ – randomhead Jul 20 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ @David If both towers have a radar display (not guaranteed with class D) and you’re on a discrete code, they can almost certainly do a handoff. In fact, they’ll generally do it without you even asking. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Jul 21 at 12:54

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