Questions tagged [usa]

Use this tag for questions which are specific to the United States, but not regulatory in nature. For questions about aviation regulations in the US, use the faa-regulations tag.

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Why isn't the Presidential 747 "Air Force One Heavy"?

Aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of at least 300,000 pounds add the word "Heavy" to their callsign. (Example: Lufthansa 415 Heavy in this video.) The current Presidential 747's have a maximum ...
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58 votes
1 answer
10k views

What is significant about the number 8069 ft?

On a sectional chart legend, the airport icon with a solid magenta or blue disk is labeled as "Hard surfaced runways 1500 ft to 8069 ft in length". This seems like an extraordinarily arbitrary number ...
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55 votes
10 answers
46k views

Can you fly a light GA airplane into a major hub? What operational considerations are there if you do?

I did my training around the Seattle area, and was told that landing at SeaTac Airport (the region's major International/Commercial airport), while not strictly forbidden, was definitely frowned upon ...
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50 votes
5 answers
11k views

In the rare event that the U.S. DOD shuts off the GPS, what's the alternative?

In the U.S., the Department of Defense along with other Federal Agencies of the Government operates & maintains the GPS. In the rarest of the events, if for any reason whatsoever, the Government ...
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42 votes
6 answers
91k views

What does it take to maintain a private pilot certificate?

What, if any, requirements are there to maintain a private pilot certificate? For example: Do I have to renew my certificate after a period of time? E.g. annually, 5 years, 10 years Do I have to ...
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  • 523
37 votes
4 answers
10k views

What prevents someone from hijacking a radio frequency mid-air?

For someone who wants to stay anonymous and probably terrorize the skies, what protective measures do we have? Without even thinking too deep, I can imaging the following scenarios for someone who's ...
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  • 2,837
37 votes
2 answers
2k views

How can I find my grandmother's OLD instrument rating documentation?

This is my grandmother, Nathalie Myrtle Brown: The big-eared kid she's posing with is my dad. She has a claim to fame in that she was the first female instrument-rated pilot in the state of Iowa, a ...
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34 votes
5 answers
11k views

Why are visual approaches (in the US) preferred by US pilots, but not European pilots?

I listen to ATC a lot and often hear airliners cleared for visual approaches in the USA. Interestingly, if it's European airliner pilots they deny the visual approach and request ILS even if they are ...
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  • 3,684
34 votes
1 answer
5k views

Who has final authority over Air Force One?

U.S. FAA FAR 91.3 ("Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command") says that: The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the ...
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  • 442
33 votes
6 answers
33k views

How much, generally speaking, does it cost to learn how to fly?

One of my life goals is to learn how to fly a plane. I can't do it now due to time constraints, but I am curious: How much, in general terms, does it cost to learn how to fly? I.e. piloting lessons, ...
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  • 819
33 votes
5 answers
29k views

What is Class F airspace, and why is it not used in the US?

I've read that ICAO defines Class F airspace but the FAA has chosen not to use the airspace class in the US. What is the ICAO definition of Class F airspace and how does it differ from other airspace ...
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30 votes
1 answer
857 views

What is the proper air strip closure procedure with the FAA?

I own a grass airstrip that was registered for me by a good friend. I want to sell my land and the guy that registered it is dying and can't help me. What do I need to do to have this airstrip ...
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28 votes
1 answer
2k views

At a non-towered airport in the US, what should I do if I hear a medevac flight waiting to take off while I'm turning base?

I'm in the left downwind at my favorite non-towered airport. Just while I'm making the turn to base, I hear a radio call on CTAF: "Such-and-such Traffic, Medevac 123, holding short runway 31." They ...
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27 votes
2 answers
3k views

How do landing fees work at larger airports?

Many larger airports (class Bravos) have a landing fee. What's the process for assessing and collecting the fees? How do these landing fees work with general aviation aircraft? Where can I find out ...
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26 votes
1 answer
25k views

Is it legal to smoke in your own plane?

I was just curious, in the past, smoking on planes was permitted. What is the law surrounding smoking in your own private plane?
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25 votes
9 answers
5k views

How can a private pilot prepare for a long cross country flight in an unfamiliar area?

TL/DR: What are common preparation tips or techniques for low-hour private pilots planning long cross country flights in unfamiliar territory? I got my private pilot's license in November 2016 in ...
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24 votes
3 answers
45k views

What is a TRACON?

What is a TRACON or Terminal Control? When do pilots need to be helped by a TRACON? Where is it usually located and what is the difference between TRACON, En Route and Tower?
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24 votes
4 answers
9k views

Is it legal to use handheld radios to listen to aviation frequencies in the USA?

Is it legal to use handheld radios to listen to (general aviation) airport frequencies in the USA? Can I go to an airport with a handheld radio and listen to their frequencies?
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  • 241
24 votes
1 answer
21k views

Where did the "K" identifier prefix for US airports come from?

Airports in the United States are (mostly) three letters, prefixed with a K. Where did this standard originate? Why K? This is similar to "where did the U.S. N ...
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  • 23k
23 votes
2 answers
3k views

How does ATC handle tv coverage of police pursuits in the US?

On YouTube there's a lot of aerial footage of US police pursuits to be found, usually filmed from news helicopters, flying around and doing a lot of maneuvering in the same small area, sometimes in ...
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23 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is this old US Army Air Corps plane?

This photo was taken by my Grandfather in 1918 at Rich Field in Wako, TX. I don't think that it is a Taube because of the front structure, engine type, 4 wheels, fuselage shape, etc.
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22 votes
4 answers
9k views

Why are special aircraft used for the carriers in the United States Navy?

Why are aircraft such as the legacy F-14 and now the F/A-18 used by the US Navy carriers? It seems to me that developing a new aircraft from the ground up is very expensive. Is it not possible to ...
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22 votes
2 answers
5k views

How much does a typical private pilot pay for a non-training flight?

I realize one can expect to pay upwards of $10k to receive their Private Pilot certificate. Understood entirely. However, my question revolves around the everyday expense of your average Joe pilot ...
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  • 1,411
22 votes
1 answer
65k views

How do I contact Flight Service while in flight?

How do I contact a Flight Service Station (FSS) in the United States in order to receive weather information or open a flight plan after I've already departed.
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  • 3,825
21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Where did the US 'N' registration letter come from?

Why is the first letter in US registration numbers 'N'? Other countries seem to use a letter significant to their country, for instance 'G' for Great Britain, 'F' for France, 'D' for Germany (...
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  • 14.4k
20 votes
4 answers
3k views

Can the guard frequency be used by non-aircraft / general public?

I am part of an organisation which regularly flies high-powered rockets, and thus files a TFR when we do so prohibiting aircraft from the area where we launch these rockets up to 10,000 ft. This TFR ...
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  • 301
19 votes
2 answers
3k views

What keeps certified GA aircraft from being affordable?

A personal (pipe) dream of mine is to own a new aircraft, but the costs for certified GA aircraft is borderline outrageous. A new Cessna 172, considered an entry level aircraft, can go for well over \$...
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  • 35.1k
19 votes
3 answers
10k views

What is the legal altitude to fly through Yosemite Valley (US)?

I have a question regarding flying in the Yosemite Valley national park, which I flew over last weekend in an open-cockpit gyroplane. The sectional states you must be a minimum of 2,000 ft about the ...
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19 votes
2 answers
3k views

What are the regulations regarding plane spotting in the US?

I was told that certain plane spotting activities like taking photos of aircraft taking off and landing could be illegal in the US since 9/11? What are the regulations on this, and what should I be ...
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19 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is ATC communication subject to FCC profanity regulations?

I've never had instance to swear or use profane terminology on ATC frequencies but I've always wondered if the same FCC restrictions which apply to terrestrial entertainment radio stations are in ...
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18 votes
8 answers
14k views

How quickly can someone learn to fly?

I'm a US-citizen living in Japan, and the costs here are insane ($500 per hour). So I'm thinking to go to the US or Australia for my pilot's license, but how long am I'm going to need to live there? ...
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18 votes
3 answers
10k views

What makes an airport "international"?

What are the requirements for an airport to be designated as an international airport in the US? Is there a minimum runway size or required customs office?
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  • 283
18 votes
1 answer
38k views

Why do some approaches have suffix letters such as Y and Z?

There are cases with instrument approaches where there will be multiple approaches to the same runway, in many cases uses some of the same nav aids and positions, but differentiated using alpha ...
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17 votes
4 answers
5k views

What are the pros and cons of buying a kit aircraft vs. a factory-built one?

I am a student pilot, and I am trying to decide on what I should do for a plane. I am leaning towards buying a kit, but what are the advantages or disadvantages for that?
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  • 181
17 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why did air traffic levels decrease dramatically in the US through the 2000s?

In 2015, the FAA stated that System-wide, air traffic has declined by 24 percent since peak year 2000. The chart in Figure 1.1 shows that air traffic volume is not expected to return to peak ...
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  • 5,203
17 votes
4 answers
50k views

Where is RC aircraft flying allowed in the US?

In the US, where are you allowed to fly RC aircraft? AMA says you should stay away from airports and below 400 feet. Is there any actual law about this? I'm guessing you are free to fly on your own ...
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17 votes
2 answers
47k views

What is the history of "Joker" and "Bingo" fuel terms?

Why do we use, in military aircraft, the words "Joker" and "Bingo" to indicate the fuel status of the aircraft? What is the history of these two terms?
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17 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why are aircraft registration details made public?

Recently, a friend asked me why aircraft registration details are made public since related car license plate numbers details are more regulated in access by law. Me, being an avgeek and taking this ...
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17 votes
2 answers
42k views

How much should it cost to get IFR-rated? What to look for?

(Related to this question) Many pilots have told me that an IFR rating is the most valuable thing i can do to improve my flying and margin of safety. I know there are courses as quick as, "Get ...
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  • 28.3k
16 votes
1 answer
4k views

What is typical ATC procedure when a non-pilot calls from a commercial flight for help?

"This is ShinyWings 123, I'm not a pilot, the pilot and copilot are unconscious. Help." Probably a day air traffic controllers dream of with dread, when a member of cabin crew, or even worse,...
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16 votes
3 answers
10k views

What is the security policy for getting into a Control Tower in the US?

Are there any regulations the FAA has ruled to get into a Control Tower? Do people need any special kind of security clearance? Are there forbidden items or other special rules? I'd also want to know ...
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  • 1,385
16 votes
4 answers
8k views

Did commercial airliners have microwave ovens in the past?

So I went on 2 long (total of 16 hours) flights with a major US airline, and they did not provide a free in-flight lunch (grr) during either flight. I had brought a sandwich with me just in case, but ...
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16 votes
4 answers
3k views

What callsign should an ultralight use?

I plan to operate an ultralight aircraft domestically (in Oregon, USA) in uncontrolled airspace and will not venture out of the country nor will I come near the Canadian or Mexican borders. I have ...
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  • 263
16 votes
3 answers
2k views

What's usually going on in a "hot" military operations area (in the US)?

Like many people in aviation, I've been around pilots who've flown in or through the edge of a Military Operations Area (MOA) while operating under visual flight rules. Usually they ask ATC if the MOA ...
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  • 6,325
16 votes
2 answers
1k views

How does Jeppesen create its US charts?

The Jeppesen and FAA IFR plates represent the same information in different ways. The FAA publishes its charts for free, but the underlying data that goes into the charts (e.g., exact coordinates of ...
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  • 261
16 votes
3 answers
9k views

What is the range and accuracy of ATC radar systems?

What is the average range, accuracy, and update frequency of radar systems used to monitor airspace in the USA? I'm primarily interested in capabilities for tracking smaller general aviation aircraft ...
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  • 365
15 votes
3 answers
11k views

Why aren't there direct flights connecting Honolulu, Hawaii and London, UK?

London is by far my favorite city, and many people in Honolulu apparently feel the same. An old poll (5-6 years ago) said that 50% of polled people would go to London on that flight if it existed. The ...
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  • 261
15 votes
2 answers
9k views

Is it possible to own an F-14 Tomcat? [duplicate]

Ok, I'm a wartime aviation enthusiast who loves, in particular, 3rd-5th generation fighters. I have held an avid interest in them for years, but I've always wondered whether or not I could own one ...
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  • 197
15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why was the second runway at Sea-Tac Airport built so close to the first?

The second runway (the eastern 16L/34R) was built 800ft. to the east of the original runway 16C. Almost immediately it was criticised as being unusable for simultaneous operations unless using VFR ...
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  • 251
15 votes
3 answers
26k views

What do I request when contacting tower of an airspace I'm transiting over?

I'm a student pilot who has just begun dual cross-country with my instructor. However, he has not been explicit when I've asked him about radio comm with tower/approach/radio during the flight. If I ...
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