There are some good sights to see inside of class Bravo airspace. What is the best way to plan and communicate to ATC that my intention is to fly into the airspace to see some specific landmarks?

  • $\begingroup$ That's not a real answer so I'll write it as a comment: Please always remember, that controllers there to assist you as a pilot and run a safe and efficient traffic flow. They might be sometimes too busy to aprove your request but you should never (only if it's obviously disturbing or unable to approve) need to hesitate to ask your question. $\endgroup$
    – Falk
    Jan 8, 2014 at 18:15

2 Answers 2


Just call up ATC on the approach frequency and request flight following to see the location you're interested in. They'll assign you a transponder code and any restrictions. For example:

N12345: "Houston approach, VFR request for Cessna 12345"

Houston TRACON: "Cessna 345, say request"

N12345: "Cessna 12345 is at 1200 ft, 3 miles south of Houston Executive, requesting flight following to overfly the Greenway Plaza area for sightseeing, aircraft type is a Charlie 172 slant Golf."

Houston TRACON: "Cessna 345, squawk 4123."

N12345: "squawk 4123 for Cessna 345"

Houston TRACON: "Cessna 345, radar contact. Cleared into Bravo, maintain at or below 3,500, remain north of the University, advise when your sightseeing is complete."

N12345: "Cessna 345 is cleared into Bravo. Will remain at or below 3,500 and north of the University. Will advise when complete."

Notice that it is preferred that you don't give your entire VFR request in the initial callup to avoid overwhelming the controllers if they're busy or not yet prepared to copy your entire request.

Just ask for "VFR request" with your callsign and wait for them to ask for the details.

  • $\begingroup$ I've also heard of requesting the "city tour". Are "city tour" or "sightseeing" standard nomenclature for controllers? $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Dec 17, 2013 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ I think they'll still understand the intent, even if you were just to say "for aerial photography" as the reason, which I've also heard uttered. $\endgroup$
    – bovine
    Dec 17, 2013 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, I was looking to find out if there exists an official term. $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Dec 17, 2013 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, in the SF Bay area, we call in and say "Bay Approach, Cessna 1234A, 3 west of Palo Alto with Golf, bay tour". They'll give you a squawk code and probably ask what route you'll be taking. (I'm told that the flight code they usually assign on their computers is "2er") $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2013 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ @EdwardFalk: Except Bay Approach no longer exists. NorCal Approach? :) $\endgroup$
    – jrdioko
    Dec 21, 2013 at 6:49

You can also familiarize yourself with helicopter routes for the airspace you're flying in. I fairly frequently go into the BOS class B and almost always use a helicopter route in and out, which helps ATC know exactly what you're referring to.

  • $\begingroup$ Is there a good reference online for where to find these? $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Dec 27, 2013 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ They'll be on helicopter charts, separate from TACs and sectionals. $\endgroup$
    – cmn.jcs
    Dec 27, 2013 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ This looks like the site to download from, there are only a few areas that have them though (not all Class Bs): aeronav.faa.gov/index.asp?xml=aeronav/applications/VFR/… $\endgroup$
    – bobtheowl2
    Jan 10, 2014 at 22:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ SkyVector.com also shows the helicopter charts if you zoom in close enough to an area that has them. For example, Houston has North and South helicopter charts: skyvector.com/… $\endgroup$
    – bovine
    Jan 16, 2014 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ Helicopter route charts link needs updating, current seems to be faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/productcatalog/… $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Jul 3, 2018 at 15:07

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