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Student pilot (US) here prepping for long solo XC. I'll be landing at a Class D airport (KSCH) within Class C airspace (KALB).

I have a few questions regarding procedure and what is appropriate for radio calls. I assume my first call will be to approach control for the Class C airspace and state who I am, where I am, my altitude, have information, and my destination (the Class D airport).

My question is what exactly am I requesting? Flight following? Just request VFR to destination? I assume at some point they will hand me off to the tower at the Class D airport. In the meantime, am I able to change altitude through Class C as I begin a descent into Class D for landing or does it depend on what approach control advises?

Thanks for any help.

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  • $\begingroup$ It would help us to know your destination airport as well, some airports have extra procedures. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 21 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ It's a good idea to discuss this issue with your CFI. The questions you are asking involve procedures your CFI should make certain you are totally familiar with before authorizing your solo cross country flight. $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    Jan 21 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. Yes, I will certainly be discussing with my CFI. But, I also like to prepare for those CFI discussions in advance by asking others as well. $\endgroup$
    – Chad
    Jan 21 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ KALB is the Class C. Landing at KSCH. $\endgroup$
    – Chad
    Jan 21 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ Having just gone and looked at skyvector: SCH itself is solidly outside the ALB Class C surface area, but you can see how the Class D surface area intrudes slightly on the Class C surface area. For that small intrusion, the Class C overrides the Class D. The Class D ceiling is also infringed upon by the Class C 20-mile ring, and for that area too the Class C is overriding, so in that section the D really only goes up to [-20] instead of [29]. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Jan 24 at 21:02

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First of all, there is no such thing as a Class D airport within Class C airspace. Airspace classes are exclusive; unless there is a cutout in the Class C (which there will be) the C will take precedence over the D.

Answering in the context of , what you should do is call the facility which owns the Class C airspace and say this:

You: Podunk Approach, Skyhawk 123AB, two-zero miles northwest of Podunk at three thousand five hundred, full stop at at Hicksville with information Alfa.
Approach: Skyhawk 123AB, Podunk Approach, radar contact, Podunk altimeter 29.92. Squawk 0101. Maintain VFR at or below three thousand five hundred.

In order to enter the Class C airspace you need to establish two-way communications with the controlling agency, which is Podunk Approach.
In order to enter the Class D airspace you need to establish two-way communications with the controlling agency, which is Hicksville Tower.
At some point Approach will tell you to contact Tower, and you should not switch frequencies before then.

Approach may assign you vectors or altitudes or both to ensure applicable separation between you and other traffic (which in Class C is either target resolution or 500' vertically from IFR traffic, and they will issue traffic advisories and safety alerts on other VFR traffic). It is still your responsibility to see-and-avoid and maintain applicable cloud clearance for the airspace you are in, and you must speak up if a controller's instruction will cause you to violate those clearances.

You do not need to listen to the ATIS for the Class C airport but you should listen to the ATIS for the Class D airport.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the detailed response and apologies for the poor description. I do recognize there is no Class D airport within a Class C airspace. I would be passing through KALB airspace and landing at KSCH. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – Chad
    Jan 21 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @757: say there is an airport with C airspace with a surface area 5NM radius of the airport, and say there is an airport with D airspace only four miles away from the C airport. Even if the D airspace was defined as "3NM radius of the airport" the airport would still be within the C surface area because the C takes precedence. So in order for second airport to actually be within its own D surface area the C must be explicitly excluded from that area... which will obviously happen. In fact the C and D will probably be defined to not overlap, but if they did the C would override the D. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Jan 21 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ PDX Class C and Troutdale D overlap in altitude. Just FYI if someone was looking for an example. $\endgroup$ Jan 22 at 0:18

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