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I am a low time private pilot now based in Pensacola. I’m a bit unsure how the Class C of PNS/NAS Whiting Field is handled. As you can see they all overlap. PNS is a civilian field while the others are military. If I was going to fly VFR to the northeast, can I fly through the Class C of Whiting field? I always get flight following when departing.

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    $\begingroup$ North Whiting Field and South Whiting Field are training bases with a fairly high density of student flight training going on; North is fixed wing, South is helicopters. Is it your intention to to fly through that airspace without talking to anyone? Do you always make sure to squawk 1200 and have your transponder on? Your intentions are unclear in asking this question: what's really the problem to solve here? $\endgroup$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 20 '18 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ There are some general answers to questions like this, but you might also want to sit down with a local CFI and discuss it. In most areas there's a lot of 'local knowledge' on airspace and procedures that you won't find in any chart or document. Especially in that location with a lot of military traffic, special use airspace and a special rules area. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 20 '18 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the replies. My concern was the legality of departing PNS and entering adjacent class C after being told to “maintain VFR” as departure usually says. I fly a 150 so climbing above the top of the Class C takes time. $\endgroup$ – 87pilot Dec 21 '18 at 0:28

When entering Class C Airspace:

Since all the airfields are Class C you would need to contact the approach control prior to entering. Approach control should be able to direct you appropriately from there. Approach control would handle traffic at all three airports. If the military airfield does not want civilian aircraft to cross the field for any reason approach control will direct you around it. If there is nothing going on at the military field then approach control could let you cross over the field.

When Departing Pensacola Field:

When departing Pensacola field you can request a Northeast departure through Clearance Delivery. You could be granted the request to fly Northeast directly from the airport or they could make you fly East for a while then make a turn North to avoid the military airport. Nevertheless you have to follow ATCs instructions whenever you are in Class C airspace.

Side Note:

It is fairly common that when you have military airfield close to a Class C airport, the class C airspace will be extended over the military fields as well so that one approach control would handle all the traffic and deconflict traffic for all of the fields. A similar situation exists for the Tucson area where the Class C includes Tucson International and Davis Monthan AFB.


If I was going to fly VFR to the northeast can I fly through the Class C of Whiting field?

As long as you contact the NDZ tower/approach control and they respond to your call you are cleared through the Class C as you would be through any class C.

However also to the northeast you will find R-2915A and the Eglin base area which has some special rules. The FAA offers a nice course/overview on it you can find here.

Generally speaking you are allowed to fly close to military bases and into their airspace so long as that airspace is not prohibited or a hot restricted area.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you would need to talk to approach control, not tower. FYI, there are two towers... one for the North field and one for the South field. But, I see they are the same freq... $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Dec 20 '18 at 20:44

When departing KPNS (or any class B/C), you'll call Clearance Delivery before taxi and tell them which direction you want to depart, and they'll give you a squawk code and (maybe) what heading and altitude to fly immediately after takeoff. Then you call Ground to taxi as usual.

After takeoff, KPNS Tower will hand you off to Departure, who will likely give you a new heading and/or altitude once you're on radar. Ideally, you'll have climbed above the other Towers' airspace within a few miles and thus can stay with Departure the entire way out. If your climb performance sucks, they may turn you to avoid a handoff, or they might have a local agreement that lets them handle you anyway, e.g. if you're just going to clip a corner on the way up.

The key point is that as long as you're talking to ATC, they'll hand you off to whoever controls wherever you're headed next without you having to worry (much) about who that may be ahead of time. All those complicated lines are mostly just for folks trying to fly without talking to ATC.


You're never allowed into class B or C without appropriate communication. Contact approach, and ask them to enter the airspace. If they clear you in, then you can. If they tell you to remain clear, then the answer is no.

I don't know why everyone wants to make every answer into an editorial.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to ASE! Long answers that explain things in detail, including sources and citations, is the purpose of this site. Your answer has some not-quite-correct information. Class C does not require "clearance" to enter. It only requires positive communication be established. If you contact approach and they say your call sign, you're allowed to enter. "Cessna 123AB, standby", and you can go in, even though they didn't "clear you in". $\endgroup$ – Jimmy Dec 24 '18 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ I've edited my answer in an effort to be more pedantic. If a long explanation with references is necessary, then I get it. Sometimes all of that is simply not necessary. the question was "can I fly through the Class C". The answer is just as simple as the question. $\endgroup$ – user36228 Dec 24 '18 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ That's true, but the actual underlying question is much more complex than just "can I?", with in a simple, "yes you can" answer. The questioner states that s/he is low-time, and specifically mentions being "unsure of how it works", since there are multiple/stacked Class Cs and one of them is around a military field. An "editorial" answer is definitely called for to help the questioner go from "rote knowledge" to a deeper understanding of the process and procedures. (I'm not trying to be a dick... you stated you don't know why, and I'm just explaining why) $\endgroup$ – Jimmy Dec 24 '18 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Class C doesn't need a clearance, two-way radio communications is sufficient $\endgroup$ – Steve Kuo Dec 25 '18 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ Steve Kuo - unless that two-way communication includes "remain outside class Charlie". Right? Or does that qualify as "two-way communication", and therefore you can enter without "clearance"? $\endgroup$ – user36228 Dec 26 '18 at 1:49

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