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Visual Warning System for restricted airspace around Washington, D.C.
 ...National Airspace System; ...Airspace; ...Airspace Violations; ...Altitude & Airspace; ...Part-time Airspace; ...Air Traffic Control (ATC); ...Class Alpha; ...Class Bravo; ...Class Charlie; ...Class Delta; ...Airspace Areas Exist in Two Ways; ...Flight in Class D Airspace; ...   ...Class Echo; ...Airports Change Color; ...Class Golf; ...Airways; ...Prohibited Areas; ... Restricted Areas; ...Warning Areas; ...Alert Areas; .. ; ...Military Operations Area (MOA); … Military Training routes; … Special Use; ...ADIZ; ... Controlled Firing Areas; Wildlife Areas; Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR); …Learning Airspace; …Airspace Revisited; …Busting Airspace; … Classes D, C and B Competence; …Parachute Jump Area; …Private Airports;  …Obstacle Free Zone; ..FAA Certificate Suspension Rules; ...What to Know and When to Know It; ...VFR Hemispheric Direction Rule; ...Congested Surface Area ...SVFR ; ...Airport Advisory Area; ...Rewritten Beetle Bailey; ...The Mean Level of the Sea; ...Glossary; ...

Visual Warning System for restricted airspace around Washington, D.C.
The Visual Warning System (VWS) is designed to warn pilots who have entered the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the Washington, D.C. area without the authorization of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control. VWS is a ground-based system that uses safety-tested low-level beams of alternating red and green lights to alert pilots that they are flying without approval in designated, restricted airspace. These visually conspicuous lights, distinct from other light signals currently used by FAA Air Traffic Control, are designed to provide a clear warning to pilots who enter the ADIZ without authorization and cannot be contacted on the radio by Air Traffic Control. The VWS will become operational in the Washington DC area on May 21, 2005.

D. Task: 
REFERENCES: FARs 71, 91, Charts, and AIM
P Knowledge of National Airspace System
EX VFR minimums for all airspaces
Airspace classes, boundaries, pilot requirements, aircraft requirements for: Classes A, B, C, D, E, G, special use and other.

The reason for changes is to simplify and commonality with rest of world. Expected to simplify pilot certification requirements, aircraft equipment requirements, and ATC services for each class of airspace.   "Since 9/11 there are three kinds of airspace: uncontrolled, controlled, and over controlled". (Joke )

If Classes overlap the rules for the higher class apply. This prevents overlapping. The ARSA of an airport (Class C) preempts a control zone of an adjacent airport (Class D)

Airspace with radar advisories available, but not required, will probably be ringed in black. 200-kt speed limit will be below 2500’ AGL Bravo, Charlie as standard but some Delta airspace will have a 4.4 nm radius with some only 3.1 nm. Delta and Echo airspace extensions of the Delta footprint exist only when the tower is open. Palm Springs in CA

One of the beauties of IFR clearance flying even on VFR flights is that you just fly your clearance. There will be no changes in IFR rules or operations. Airspace restrictions and requirements do not exist as a problem. However, you are expected to be flawless in maintaining your altitude and course. IFR charts will neither depict towered airports surrounded by Class D airspace nor show the Class Echo-surface airports.

The purpose of VFR minimums is to protect and separate VFR aircraft from IFR aircraft. IFR pilots are guaranteed by the government that they are alone in airspace below VFR minimums. The government guaranteed Liberty Bonds after WWI, too.

Airspace with radar advisories available, but not required, will probably be ringed in black. 200-kt speed limit will be below 2500’ AGL Bravo, Charlie as standard but some Delta airspace will have a 4.4 nm radius with some only 3.1 nm. Delta and Echo airspace extensions of the Delta footprint exist only when the tower is open.

The FAA has a method of selection and requirements that restrict or allow aircraft operations in airspace.
--One criteria is weather in terms of clouds, visibility variable by altitude
--Aircraft instrumentation has place, altitude, and navigation requirements
--Communication requirements are an additional limitation and requirement.
--The regulations contain all the weather, equipment, communications and pilot restrictions.
--Aviation charts, maps and FARs have a wide variety of symbols and words giving need to know information.
--As a pilot you must combine all these sources as they may influence what you do on a specific flight.

Two kinds: controlled and uncontrolled
--Controlled airspace is charted areas where ATC provides services both IFR and VFR.
--Available transponder must be used in controlled airspace.
--Uncontrolled airspace has no ATC services (FSS Service exception)
--Vignette airspace is weather controlled and shades from uncontrolled to controlled as magenta and blue
--The blue vignette of 1200' shows on sectionals only when beside uncontrolled up to 14500'
--On average there is a three mile difference between radar depiction and GPS depiction
--Class E has both aloft space that moves 1200' down to 700'
--Class E also has a surface based footprint shown by dashed magenta lines…usually circles and extensions of airport footprint..

Airspace Violations
Major space problems with ATC in order of occurrence are:
Entering ARSA/TCA without authorization
Runway incursions
Altitude deviations.

A violation of Class C airspace typically results in a 60 or 90 day suspension of flight privileges. The typical violation is when a pilot enters the airspace without establishing communications. Next most common would be failing to have transponder to mode C when either above or below the footprint of the Class C airspace. Many pilots have never been trained to fly in these new airspaces so retraining may also be required. To date only one out of every ten violations have escaped sanction. Ignorance is not an excuse. Failing to have a current sectional may result in an additional violation. Class C airspace is usually an area of high volume traffic. Get all the help you can.

Altitude & Airspace
Just reading the FARs does not do justice to the intricacies of what the practical applications of altitude requirements as applied in the real world of flying. The best way to study the airspace requirements is to plan several different flights between airports and run through the altitude and communications requirements.

Within 700/1200’ of the ground in daytime the required cloud clearance is only "clear of clouds" and 1 mile visibility in the direction being flown. At night the requirements are 500/1000/2000 clear of clouds and 3 mile visibility unless within ½ mile of airport and in pattern.

Within 3000’ of the ground, in VFR conditions, where 500/1000/2000 cloud clearance and 3 mile visibility can be maintained, there is no restriction as to what direction you must be flying in Class E airspace. Neither is there such a restriction if you are climbing and descending, regardless of altitude up to 18,000’. Above 10,000’ you must maintain 1000/1000/1 mile clear of clouds and 5 mile visibility. You must have an operating transponder above 10,000’. 

If you become uncertain as to how the hemispheric rule applies to the magnetic course you are flying make gradual climbs and descents and you will technically never be in violation if you maintain the appropriate cloud clearance and visibility.

When it comes to choosing a flight altitude in VFR conditions between two points it is important that you consider several items:

--Avoid 3000’. Remember local flights tend to stay below 3000’. No need to go high for short distances.

--Most pilots tend to fly at even 500s even below 3000. Choose a unique altitude so as to avoid traffic.

--Above 3000 AGL (Above Ground Level) you must fly according to the hemispheric rule. Fly at 7,500 or 8,500 to minimize traffic conflicts but be aware when you cross, parallel or fly airways you should have local altimeter setting.

Choose an altitude appropriate to the terrain and airports. This means that route selection may be predicated on several factors. Choose an altitude appropriate to the winds. Winds usually increase in velocity with altitude. Plan accordingly. Choose an altitude with reference to special airspace restrictions, local hazards and cloud layers. (It is more likely to be a rough flight below clouds.

Flying low below a cloud deck and unlimited visibility has a variety of rules that change according to the IFR rule requirements. The VFR pilot must know how IFR rules and weather affect his VFR flight. Flyways such as SAC to OAK have transition floors of 700’. The West Side of the Central Valley has mostly transition floors of 1200’ except near airports with instrument approaches where the Class E airspace may reach the surface. Weather minimums jump to 3-mile visibility and 500/1000/2000-cloud clearance. IFR operations may exist. The lateral boundaries of Classes B, C, D, and E footprint when operational assures IFR pilots that VFR pilots will not be operating below VFR minimums. Airports with non-precision approaches, everything except the ILS, do not have Class E to the surface when the controlling facility is closed. The surface area becomes Class G below 700 feet. At night below basic VFR minimums you must not only remain within 700’ of the surface, but within ½ mile of the runway.

Additionally, when in communication with ATC you come upon unique kinds of airspace. There is "My airspace" which is defined by geographic indicators or VOR radials. A careful look at an SFO sVFR Area Chart will show that the ‘upside-down wedding cake is divided into many areas in this way. Airspace that is not "my airspace" is "your airspace". Altitude on the VFR Area Chart has many divisions determined by altitude. In heavy traffic areas the MY is separated from the YOUR most often by altitude. Thus, many of the heading assignments and altitude restrictions are used to keep you in the MY airspace or to hand you off to YOUR airspace. At this point ATC or the FARs tell you to change frequencies.

Part-time Airspace
Sectional and terminal charts will show the distinction between the categories of airspace that occur over a 24-hour period. All part-time Class D will be annotated to indicate change to Class D/E or Class D/G. The legend section of these charts will have an additional column. In addition the information will be available in the A/FD. Always check the NOTAMS for temporary changes in Class C, weather reports available in Class E, or changes in communications requirements.

Pilots are required to establish and maintain radio contact with any tower in Classes B, C, D, E and G airspace. The inclusion of E and G airspace is affected if there is a tower present and operating, weather reporting and instrument approaches without towers require entry/exit clearances when below VFR minimums (Visalia, CA). Towers are now known as Air Traffic Control Towers (ATCTs)

Air Traffic Control (ATC)
ATC often has individual difference in technique and procedure, which are within the limits of regulations. Being a controller is as much art in dealing with separation, navigation and procedure as it is regulations. One controller may use altitude restrictions while another uses vectors. There is more variation of procedures than there are pilots or controllers. Valid flexibility makes the system work; rigid compliance is a device used to make the system collapse. 

A controller can assign altitudes to VFR traffic in Classes B, C, D, and E.  Any controller clearance is supposed to be unambiguous. The distinction between immediate and expedite instructions is that immediate means urgent compliance is required while expedite allows some delay. If you ever have a problem with compliance, speak up. A good controller will not overload a pilot with a clearance. Two items are the preferred limit such as heading and altitude limit.

If ATC gives a traffic call or point out with nothing further, don’t let it stop there. Let the controller know that you are looking but will accept any avoidance procedures he might suggest. Don’t let ATC leave the avoidance of an aircraft you can’t find up to you.

Class "A" - Above
Class "B" - Busy
Class "C" - Crowded
Class "D" - Dangerous
Class "E" - Enjoyable
Class "G" - Greatest of all

Above 18,000 Mean Sea Level to 60,000. IFR Clearance required. Aircraft must have proper equipment and pilot must be IFR qualified. High-level airway routes have direct courses and begin at FL (flight level) 180 and extend to FL 450.

Class A is always effective.
Class A = Altitude...

Airspace requirement:
Full ATC service provided.
Aircraft separation
Safety alerts
Communications two/way

Aircraft required equipment include
IFR certified aircraft
720 frequency com/nav radio.
Mode C encoding transponder required
DME above 24,000’

Pilot requirements include:
IFR current
High altitude endorsement

Jet routes not shown on VFR Charts or low-level IFR en route charts
No weather requirements
Not charted

Class B = Busy
Any ATC clearance/instruction requiring VFR entry into clouds must be refused. 250 kt speed restriction. Exists inside areas and altitudes (10,000) shown by solid blue lines. Floors and ceilings are shown in blue. The airspace is always in effect. Communications frequencies shown in blue as well as below legend panel part of charts.

IFR and VFR with clearance required for entry or departure into. Not to ask for a clearance into Class B according to the NTSB shows a lack of positional awareness. However, being given a heading into Class B, without any instructions to the contrary might be considered a clearance. Avoid questionable opportunities for the initiation of an FAA action. Get a clearance well away from Class B.  Special flight rules VFR corridor through Class B requires a clearance.
All airport operations require 3-sm visibility and 1000' ceiling for VFR.

Airspace requirements:
Clearance into/out of required.
VFR requires 3 statute mile visibility clear of clouds
SVFR to lower visibility to 1 mile available when ceilings are less than 1000’.
Clear of clouds
Aircraft separation
Traffic advisories may not be available
Collision avoidance may not be available
Safety alerts

Aircraft requirements include:
No VOR requirement except for IFR flight
Mode C transponder required within 30nm of primary airport.
Mode C required above and below footprint to 10,000'
Mode C required above 10,000 MSL except below 2500 AGL
2 way radio/communications requirement
250kt speed limit

Pilot requirements include:
Private Certificate
Private and student O.K. but student cannot land SFO.
Student may be allowed to land with proper sign-off at places like Hawaii.

Box name will have over it "No SVFR"
Helicopter SVFR may exist
VFR minimums is 3sm visibility and clear of clouds

CLASS Charlie
= Contact...
Requires transponder with encoder use above tops, below shelves out to lateral limits depicted on sectional  
Inner circle to surface
Radio contact but not clearance required.
Outer circle to MSL altitude on chart
ARSA will be outlined in solid magenta.
SVFR available
Some Class C airports can be entered much as Class D airports by avoiding outside area of Class C. (Oakland)
Standard VFR cloud clearances and visibilities apply.
All airport operations require 3-sm visibility and 1000' ceiling for VFR.

Consists of controlled airspace around a tower-controlled airport from surface to designated altitude of 4000’ AGL. Exists inside areas lined with magenta as well as inside blue lines when connecting two magenta lines. Floor and ceiling is shown in magenta. Present VFR cloud clearances and visibilities apply. Part-time ARSAs change to Class D or E when radar service ceases.

Gene's Email about Class C Airspace
For a long while the largest FBO at CCR would not allow VFR training flights into Oakland, CA. because Class C is too busy. I make a point of taking my students there especially on the weekends. Because:

1. Landings are half-price.
2. On weekends I may be the only plane in the pattern.
3. I can do a simulated takeoff emergency on my last practice landing. We are using 27 L(eft) pattern altitude is 600' (half-price). On takeoff, pull the power and turn toward 33, touch-and-go on course CCR. Anyone know
where else this can be done?

Airspace requirements:
Clearances and radio contact
IFR subject to clearances and instructions
IFR separation from both IFR and VFR aircraft provided
VFR must establish two-way communications prior to entry
VFR gets advisories and, on request, conflict avoidance instructions
Visibility 3 statute miles
VFR must maintain 1000/500 and 2000 lateral cloud clearance unless under SVFR. SVFR clearance is required if cloud ceiling is less than 1000’ or visibility below 3 miles. (Note difference in Class B)
VFR must have Mode C in and above lateral limits of ARSA to 10,000’
Communications required even at uncontrolled airports as soon as able.
Separation for IFR, SVFR, and airport operations
Collision avoidance between IFR and VFR but not VFR to VFR
Traffic advisories
Safety advisories
VFR operations below and above the shelf floor is O. K. with Mode C transponder.

Aircraft Requirements:
Two-way radio and communications
200kts maximum below 2500' within 4nm of primary airport.
Mode C required above and below footprint to 10,000'
Mode C required above 10,000 MSL except below 1500 AGL

Pilot requirements:
Student certificate on up

ARSAs will have solid magenta circles
Radio contact but not clearance required to enter airspace but not to fly above or below the airspace.
TERSA will be outlined black to show radar is available but not required.

Need to know information. Once you are on the ground in Class C airspace ATC will not allow you to depart without an operating transponder. Consider forming a flight of two.

Nice to know information. If you can arrange to tag along with another aircraft with an operating transponder as a flight-of-two you can escape. (A couple of years ago I left Reno Class C airspace without radios or transponder tagging along with another plane. The bad part of this was he was not heading where I wanted to go.)

(Airports with tower operating)
Exists between surface to upper limit of dashed blue/red lines shown by number in hundreds near center of circle. Class D airspace requires communications with primary airport for operations at satellite airports unless exemption is specified. 200-kt speed limit below 2500’ AGL and 4.4 nm will exist as standard both larger and smaller (CCR) footprints exist. Provides separation only on the runway unless co-located with a TRSA. Airspace around airports is now detailed only on sectionals. Left hand traffic when tower is closed unless otherwise directed. Satellite airport departures/arrivals require that you establish and maintain communications when able. SVFR required when ceiling less than 1000’ or visibility less than three miles.

Airspace Areas Exist in Two Ways:
a. Charted
b. Within published operating hours. Becomes Class E when closed.
c. When weather observer present.

Keyhole extension part of area is Class Echo shown as dashed lines. Tower contact required in extensions. It all becomes Class E when tower closes. Class Delta or Echo airspace does not exist at an airport where there is not a qualified weather observer. Concord has a non-standard Class D footprint of only 3.1 nautical miles. This applies to communications as well as airspace. For most purposes it is safer and more practical to communicate beyond the five-mile distance. In IFR conditions arrival extensions will be Class Delta up to two miles. Greater than 2 miles will be Class Echo. No communications will be required unless IFR conditions but do it anyway.

FAR 91.126 applies to Class G airspace. FAR 91.127 applies to Class E airspace. 91.130 applies to Class C airspace. The requirement exists to communicate will all towers regardless of airspace classification. 

Flight in Class D Airspace
California frequently has persistent fog ceilings in the two to four thousand foot levels. The most desirable direct route to your destination may be directly over or near an airport with a tower. An airport surface area is a required communications space around an airport that is 4.4 nautical or five statute miles in radius and extends to 2500’ AGL. The Class D airspace is shown on aviation charts. Occasionally, it is either necessary or desirable to fly through this Class D airspace without landing. Unless the ceiling (clouds) extends above 3000’ a clearance would be required since you must remain 500’ below any clouds in class E airspace.

The "Aeronautical Information Manual" (AIM), 3-2-5, Class D Airspace states that arrival extensions for instrument approach procedures may be Class D or Class E airspace. As a general rule, if all extensions are 2 miles or less, they remain part of the Class D surface area. However, if any one extension is greater than 2 miles, then all extensions become Class E.

Airspace requirements:
No collision avoidance advisories
Traffic advisories workload basis
No student SVFR
3 SM visibility
500’/1000’/2000’ cloud clearance

Aircraft requirements:
Clearance for IFR
Communications for VFR

Pilot requirements:
Student certificate

ATC separation:
IFR, SVFR and runway operations
All airport operations require 3-sm visibility and 1000' ceiling for VFR.

Workload permitting
Safety alerts

TRSAs provide VFR separation unless declined by pilot. SVFR will be available in Bravo, Charlie, and Delta, surface-based E, or surface footprint of the airspace. There will be no changes in IFR rules or operations. VFR will be in Class B (TCA) where cloud clearances will be "clear of clouds". Additionally, Class D airspace will require communications with primary airport for operations at satellite airports unless exemption is specified. SVFR operations are permitted daytime (not by students). You can, establish contact with ATC, enter Class C airspace and refuse Class C radar service. Class C airspace provides IFR separation unless declined by the pilot. SVFR clearance required if you plan to proceed below three-mile visibility.

All Federal Airways, the Continental Control Area, and control areas are associated with jet routes outside the continental Control Area, additional control areas, control area extensions, control zones for airports without operating control towers (this is the only instance where Class E touches the ground), transition areas and area low routes (Victor airways). Essentially everything that is not Classes A, B, C, or D. Base is shown by magenta dashed lines begin at the surface as extensions of airports Class D footprint with instrument (IFR) procedures and as at 700’ where magenta shading exists. 

All other (blue or non-shaded begin at 1200’ or as indicated. Class E designates airspace area for airports without operating control towers. Non-tower control zones will be depicted in magenta-segmented lines. Non-tower floor part will be Class E beginning at the surface and will tie into the adjacent transition areas of 700’ and 1200’. All Class E airspace covers entire U. S. above 1200’ and extends upward to the overlying or adjacent controlled airspace. Certain areas in west extend from 14500’ due to high terrain. IFR and VFR traffic separation is not ATC responsibility in Class Echo. ATC may give an advisory but they may not. Look out!

Airport extensions make a footprint to protect IFR approach routes. This Class E surface area extension of Class D surface area is controlled by weather. When below VFR minimums a SVFR clearance is required. In 1994 FAR 91.127 was reinstated to require two way communications be to established and maintained in Class E with an operating control tower in the vicinity. It is always a good idea to avoid IFR approach areas when visibility is poor.  (Chico)

Airports Change Color
Airport is Class D when the tower is open, Class E when it is not. Airport is Class D when the tower is open, Class G when it is not. The difference is the presence of a weather observer on airport during hours when the tower is closed.

All airport operations require 3-sm visibility and 1000' ceiling for VFR.
No specific equipment required
Student pilot minimum
VFR below 10,000MSL  3sm visibility 1000 over, 500 below, 2000 lateral.
Above 10,000 MSL 5sm 1000 over, 1000 below, one mile lateral
No VFR radar advisories or separation unless workload permits.
Communicate with ATC radar services
250kts maximum speed below 10,000

IFR & VFR---ATC has no authority or control.
Vertical limits will vary according to airspace abutting or above it.
FAR 91.155 and FAR 103

Airspace requirements:
Day: clear of clouds and one mile visibility when below 1200’. Higher than 1200’ requires 1 mile and 500/1000/2000 cloud clearance (See Ukiah area for exception of base of MOA)
Night: three-mile visibility, 1000/500 and 2000 lateral. ½ mile of airport in pattern exception at night
Radios not required.
ATC not available
Below 1200’ AGL except where magenta which is below 700’ AGL
IFR clearances only to MDA (Minimum descent altitude)
Non-clearance IFR legal but unsafe.

Aircraft requirements:

Communication requirements:
Radio for IFR only

Pilot requirements:
Student certificate

Advisories workload permitting
Safety advisories

Low level airways begin at 1200’ AGL and terminate at FL (flight level) 180 (but not including 18,000’ MSL)

Airspace requirements:
IFR only requires radio and clearances
3 statute mile visibility,
5 statute mile visibility above 10,000’
Cloud clearances 500/1000/2000
Above 10,000’ cloud clearances 1000/1000/1 statute mile
Clear of clouds below 700/1200 AGL day
Basic VFR minimums night 3 miles, 500/1000/2000
Day SVFR for pilots in non-tower Class D (old CZ); No student SVFR
No conflict resolution by radar
Safety alerts

Pilot requirements:
Student certificate

Workload permitting
Safety advisories

Prohibited areas
Don’t fly here ever. White House, Personal residence of President, Area within 10 to 30  miles of president is prohibited airspace at any time.  Some prohibited areas include crucial national defense sites, nuclear plants, missile installations, etc. All are under radar surveillance. Do not trust ATC to keep you clear.  Notams must be checked for every leg of every flight and even then you may not be secure from a violation.

Restricted areas
A blue hatched area as near Livermore. Invisible hazards Clearance required if active  AIM 3-4-1)  You should determine if area is "hot" or in use. Hazardous area usually due to military firing, bombs, explosive, missile activity. Clearance required. Designed to protect flying public. When not in use (active) a formal clearance must be requested and given from the controlling agency. Separation will be provided. IFR flights are automatically provided safe routing.   Restricted Areas often have invisible hazards.

Warning areas
Same as Restricted area but over international waters beyond 3 mile-limit of our borders. Contains hazards related to cannon, machine guns, and bombs. Clearance/flight plan required by U. S. aircraft.   Many warning areas are just outside the three-mile coastal line; others are in the desert areas but some can be in urban places as well. Carefully check the charts for hours of operation and effective altitudes.  Warning areas cannot be designated by the FAA as restricted areas because they are over international waters. Warning areas are regulated by the FAA from 3 to 12 miles but not regulated by the FAA beyond 12 nm.

Alert Areas
High volume military flight areas are classified as Alert Areas. Basic VFR requirements exist but no clearance is required. Visual separation is a must.

Travis airspace is an example.  Alert areas are usually near or surrounding military airports. It is important that pilots get radar advisories when near these areas since the operations often exceed the published boundaries and altitudes. Special operations often make it impossible for civil aircraft to safely fly nearby.  No clearance required but safer if you use appropriate radio frequency and become aware of some of the special procedures involved.
Travis has one radar procedure that directly flies over Rio  Vista at 2000'.
Multiple departures of Travis aircraft made one minute apart with 1000' altitude spacing may make transition of the Alert Area impossible for all aircraft.  Use frequencies 119.9, 126.6, or 124.8

When you acknowledge having a C-5 or other aircraft in sight you are taking over the responsibility of maintaining visual separation.  I once did so when a
KC-10 was doing a touch and go instead of a full stop.  Next thing I knew he
was filling my windshield. Better not to see?

Military Operational Areas (MOA)
Magenta hatched area caution required due to high speeds and low altitudes.
Military Operations Areas (MOA's) are areas where general aviation pilots might expect to see combat maneuvers air intercepts and acrobatics. IFR traffic is given safe separation or deviations to avoid such traffic. VFR traffic should contact the nearest FSS to find out the level of activity (hot or cold) and time duration.

Pilots can fly in MOAs at any time; however, it is best that pilots avoid active MOAs. Some MOAs have airports in them. The airport is charted with a magenta circle and a box giving the lower limit of the MOA. ATC may fly IFR flights through if radar separation possible. Because of military aerobatics VFR flight requires caution. No clearance required but contact controlling agency to see if area is "hot". "Hot" area requires extreme caution and is best avoided. The military is not very current with planned activity or notification. The military is normally required to give the FAA a two-hour notice before use. The lower limits of most MOAs allow you to underfly even when active. MOAs are depicted on sectionals and planning charts. Make it a standard flight procedure to ask nearby FSSs if MOAs are active. Flight around MOAs is the safest solution.

MOAs are not shown on WAC charts. On the sectional the MOA boundaries can be accurately determined by using VOR radials. The MOA is designed to separate some military activities from other aircraft. IFR traffic will be allowed by ATC into an MOA only if separation can be provided. VFR pilots enter active MOA airspace at their own risk. Always check with a nearby FSS regarding the status of any MOA in your flight path.

The sectional only shows airspace up to 18000’. Many MOA by agreement between the FAA and the military extend the space to FL 24 and beyond. The letters are called ATCAAs. The hatched lines of MOAs are spaced wider than are the hatched lines of Restricted Areas.

A C-150 will be invisible to an F-16, which can climb and dive 20,000 feet in seconds. Keep your eyes outside the aircraft at all times in the MOA. Look high and low. Turn toward any aircraft to keep that aircraft in sight. Climb or dive to avoid since pitch rate is much faster than roll rate. ATC may fly IFR flights through if radar separation possible. Because of military aerobatics VFR flight requires caution. No clearance required but contact controlling agency to see if area is "hot". "Hot" area requires extreme caution and is best avoided.

MOA Exemptions:
Military flights must comply with FAR 91.117 in and out of MOAs. But they are exempt from FAR 91.303(c) and (d) while in an active MOA, and from FAR 91.117(a) while on an MTR.
--Mission oriented military pilots are likely not looking for traffic
--VR training route operations require 3000' and 5-mile visibility Check with FSS
--IR routes are controlled by Center. Zero-zero flights occur.
--Restricted Areas are usually active.

Military Training Routes (MTR)
Military training routes are depicted by thin gray lines with a printed IR + numbers or VR+ numbers. The planes using these routes may be very high or very low but regardless they will be very fast. Additionally, while the lines are narrow, the aircraft may be operating up to ten-miles each side of the lines. Be careful.

If you find that your flight will intersect an MTR route, be sure to have the FSS run a check on its activity schedule as part of your preflight. Routing or separation protects IFR pilots. MTR allow military flights to operate at higher speeds than are normally allowed below 10,000 feet. Light gray lines on sectional for military training without 250-kt speed restriction. VFR listed as VR#### (4 numbers) at or below 1500 of surface. Terrain following only if visibility is over 5 nautical miles. IFR listed as IR### (three numbers) is usually flown above 1500’. Speeds above 250 knots are relatively common. Actual flight width covers several miles especially where the lines intersect. FSS should have current status list and should be contacted if routes conflict with your route of flight. Consider all routes hot and requiring clicking eyeballs. Military speeds will be in excess of 250 knots. At 250 knots it only takes 14.4 seconds for an aircraft to ‘bloom’ full size on your windshield.

MTR routes extend for ten miles to each side of the thin gray line shown on the sectional. The width varies for each segment and is not depicted. As part of your weather briefing the FSS will give you MTR information within 100 miles of your flight route but you must ask. MTR information should be asked of a weather briefer any time you make a cross-country flight that will take you in the vicinity of a MTR. The information you get will include the times and altitudes of activity.

"There are two-digit routes on some sectionals. They're routes with legs above 1500 ft that have leading zeros that were dropped on the charts. Routes in the Southern US region with one or more segments above 1500' get ID nos. 001 through 099.

Special Use Airspace (SUA)
You learn about the special use airspace of a given sectional or chart by finding the specific airspace number, time of operation, limits  and controlling agency in blue or magenta on the outer white borders of the chart.

Not on charts but often mentioned by VOR/Tower broadcasts. Locally by Livermore ATIS to warn of National Guard firing range near Danville/San Ramon border as being "hot". Best way to avoid incursion problem is to file IFR.

An IFR clearance that transits a SUA does not allow flight through that airspace unless ‘cleared as filed’ is a part of the clearance. If the airspace should become ‘hot’ while en route you will be issued an amended clearance.

ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) is not the same as Class B. No shelf.  It extends from its footprint of outer ring to 18,000.  It surrounds the borders of the United States with airspace that requires All arriving and departing aircraft be on a flight plan that must be flown within specific time limits, direction and some special restrictions depending on the threat level existing at that time.

CFAs Controlled Firing Areas
Uses radar and visual lookout to suspend activity when aircraft in area. Low altitude tactical navigation areas (LATN) & Slow-speed low-altitude. LATN areas are not charted, speed is limited to 250 knots, and altitudes as low as 100’. Only the units using the LATN areas know the boundaries. SRs appear only in the Department of Defense, Flight Information Publication (FLIP) Low Altitude Tactical Navigation areas (LATN) and are flown at slow speeds and low altitudes.

Wildlife Areas
Throughout the U.S. the states and federal government have placed altitude restrictions on flight over many different classification of game areas. Federal limits are printed in an area on the sectional margin. State restrictions are located near the area concerned. Sometimes the altitudes are different but generally 2000’ AGL is required. The areas have an extended row of dots about the perimeter. The Greater Monterey Coast area of 4,024 square nautical miles has a possible $50,000 fine for any flight below 1000’.

Temporary Flight Restrictions
These conditions are usually broadcast on FSS frequencies, transcribed weather broadcasts (TWEB) on navaids with black square in lower right hand of navaid information box, and on ATIS of airports where authorized. Purpose is to warn air traffic to remain clear of areas such as open air affairs, forest fires, space launches, crime scenes, etc. See material on TCA, ARSA and clearances, surface operation. Each of these areas is sources for deviations from the FARs and reasons for FAA enforcement actions. A pilot who fails to check NOTAMS can be found responsible for careless operation.

Only the ARTCC manager can create a TFR. The TFR is created in a situation that might be attractive to sightseeing aircraft. Coordination of aircraft working in the TFR is handles by the nearest FSS.  Advisory Circular 91-63B dated 2/28/97 explains how a TFR comes into being. Nearly any governmental agency can request and obtain a TFR from the air traffic manager having jurisdiction over the airspace concerned. The primary objective is safety and NOTAMs are kept to a minimum in line with this objective. Airspace limits are usually 2000’ and a 3-nautical mile boundary about the area but since 9/11 can extend beyond ten miles.. Special restrictions apply to aircraft authorized to fly inside the TRF area.

Most common use of TFRs is to mark area of fires but any catastrophe that may be an attraction to aerial sightseeing can receive a TFR. TFR occasions include fires, floods, and earthquake within the radius of three miles up to what it takes to provide the desired safety zone. Altitudes can begin at 2000 feet above the highest obstacle and again extended upward as desired.  In the Bay Area and California TFRs are most likely to exist around fires and floods.  Friend of mine was FAA Violated on a non-stop flight from Arizona to Napa when he over-flew Lemore Naval Air Station at 8500’. There was NOTAM out regarding an air show. It had to stop while he was in vicinity. It happens.

National Interagency Fire Center has updated its Web site that graphically displays flight restrictions. You can find fire maps and other useful information on the Web site ( ). AOPA's free Real-Time Flight Planner is a good way to plan flights around these restrictions ( ).

Learning Airspace
I have gone through years of airspace changes and have found that the best way to appreciate the realities of airspace is to fly into the situation.

I intentionally plan flights that will be in marginal VFR conditions. I do airwork over hills and present hemispheric rule situations to the students. I fly between hills and clouds to demonstrate the Class G airspace rules. I find holes in overcast to demonstrate how to determine cloud clearance requirements. I fly over and around clouds to show how difficult it is to determine conformance with the FARs.

I take students into Class B airspace to demonstrate how turbulent it becomes when you cross the clearance line. I also deliberately introduce students to turbulence and high winds. Likewise, I show them where to fly to avoid these conditions.

I teach SVFR procedures at every opportunity. I show IFR students how a SVFR clearance can get you into an airport when an IFR clearance can't. I teach 'sweet-talking' ATC to get flight options not usually available. You will always learn better by 'doing'.

If you remember C152, F111 and KC135 that's all your cloud clearance and visibility, except for the special cases.
C152 first two blocks of airspace above
1000 above
500 below
2000 horiz.

F111 from 10,000 to FL180 (remember that F111's fly higher than C152's)
1000 above
1000 below
1sm horizontal.

KC135 is visibility in the three blocks

1sm 3sm 5sm
1,000 ft above | |
1,000 ft below | |
1 sm horizontal | |

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ 10,000 MSL
1,000 ft above | |
500 ft below | |
2,000 ft horiz | |

Clear | |
of | |
Clouds | |
It is important to know which rule applies the majority of the time and which rules are the exception. You will be within 1,200 ft AGL most of the time you are in class G, so 1 sm clear of clouds is the visibility and cloud clearance that applies most often in class G.

Airspace Revisited
…Class A covers all the 48 contiguous states and out 12 miles offshore and most of Alaska.
…Hawaii has no Class A and Victor airways extend to 60,000'.
…Mode C transponders required

…Class B usually to 10000', Denver to 12000'
…Only area chart has appropriate frequencies in blue boxes
…Areas shown in blue
…Requires specific clearance
…30-mile Mode C requirement

…Class C are solid magenta and blends with Class B if above.
…Requires established communications
…Requires Mode C above and below shelves
…Frequencies on area charts in magenta boxes

…Class D changes to Class E when tower closes
…A/FD and AIM 3-2-5 gives information about approaches
…Class E starts at 700'
…Tower requires communications in air and ground

…Class E is all airspace above 700' or 12000' up to 14500 or 18,000'
…Shown around instrument approach airports at 700' magenta shade and lines
…Blue shaded solid side goes to 14500' as uncontrolled airspace
…Cloud and visibility requirements exist

…Class G can be flown in VFR or even IFR without any IFR control.

Busting Airspace
I fly out of Bedford under the Boston Class B. Had requested VFR flight advisories for a 3500 MSL flight to the Vineyard. Got a code and was told to remain outside of Class B from Ground/Clearance. The tower cleared me for takeoff and a left turn on course. At the time I thought that meant I was all set into Class B. Took off and went to 3500 MSL. Bedford Tower told me to change over to Boston (I was in the Boston Class B by this point).

The Boston Controller told me I had broken Boston Class B and to call them when I landed. I was devastated when this happened and spent the next week searching the net for what was likely to happen. What did happen was the local office called me, asked what had happened, sent me a certified letter telling them to meet, went into the meeting with the FAA safety guy who had radar tracks and a tape of ATC. He spent about 45 minutes with the New York Sectional asking me about the map features, classes of airspace, trip planning etc. After that he told me it sounded like I knew what I was doing and look at this as a learning experience.

Told me that some people who came in on similar meetings did not have any idea re Airspaces and that was a real problem. Given our conversation he said that he did not feel further training was necessary but told me to call him if I ever had any more questions. He did make a big point about talking about some of the catastrophic events that had happened with small planes in Class B airspace etc. All in all a good experience although I did join the AOPA Legal plan after the fact since it would have really helped to have some more input as to what to expect not because I expect to make a habit of flying into the wrong airspaces. After spending more time listening to ATC one hears a number of possible cases that could turn into FAA issues (separation, airspace etc) and you may not be the responsible pilot.

Busting Airspace
--Most violations are related to unfamiliarity, complexity, confusion and misuse of avionics
--FAA's greatest fear is that an intrusion will result in a mid-air collision
--The closer you are to busy airspace the communications, routes and altitudes become more critical
--The use of Flight Following decreases the likelihood of an airspace incursion but not always.
--The use of a GPS waypoint will be different in location from a DME waypoint
--If you don't know the reporting point specified by ATC, say so.
--Get your frequencies ahead of time
--Heading, altitude, and speed control must be at ATP level
--Have appropriate charts properly folded, highlite radio frequencies and watch out.
--Do not totally trust high tech avionics to do as expected, back up your position with basic navaids
--Advise ATC of any information conflicts as soon as they occur
--Do not go at night into a complex situation without an experienced pilot along
--Give problem airspace as wide a margin as possible
--ALWAYS check FSS for latest TFRs before your flight.
--Airspace incursions are not something you want to do.

Classes D, C and B Competence
--Make it a point to arrange a flight with a local pilot or CFI to visit the area airports.
--Learn at least one arrival, taxi route to a destination and departure per airport.
--On the ground read as many bulletin board postings about procedures as you can find.
--Avoid Class B airports unless the need exceeds the required landing fee.
--Class C airports are little different from Class D except for airline traffic.
--Buy, borrow or duplicate IFR plates and area charts.
--If you can't get a local pilot to go, study the plates and charts, phone approach and tower for info.
--Locate where you are going on the airport and mark your preferred runway and taxiways expected.
--Become familiar with airway intersections and plate fixes as to name and location.
--Get help with the radio and clearances even if it is just the autopilot or flying with rudder only.
--All speed assignments are indicated air speed.
--Altitude should be flown precisely, your heading can vary a bit.
--Look for VFR reporting points, admit that you are UNfamiliar and follow directions.
--Get any instructions repeated until you do more than get them, understand them.
--Get all available frequencies from the charts and sequence them in large size on post-its.
--Don't be surprised if a controller is using two frequencies so you only hear half of what is going on.
--If you are going to be over your head, go to a smaller airport close by.
--Practice your radio work before getting into the plane, practice again for minimum words before keying.
--Be sure to get all the way across the hold bars when leaving a runway.
--Request 'progressive taxi instructions'.
--VFR departures will include an altitude, heading and next frequency.
--The better you use the radio the more likely you are to get what you want.

Parachute Jump Area
Jump planes are required to maintain communications with ATC. They advise ATC when they reach an altitude and position to release the parachutists. They advise ATC when "jumpers away" occurs. May be preceded by one-minute warning.

Private Airports
--FAR Part 157 requires that establishing, altering, or closing an airfield requires the government be informed.
--Because of insurance/lawer problems you must have permission to use a private airfield.
--A landing on a private airport without permission may be against the law.

Obstacle Free Zone
OFZ means Obstacle Free Zone. The OFZ is a three-dimensional f airspace that protects aircraft to and
from the runway. The OFZ is comprised of the runway, the inner-approach OFZ, and the inner-transitional OFZ. See Glossary" in the AIM. .

FAA Certificate-Suspension Rules
As mandated by congress and contrary to established legal proceedings regarding individual rights and due process, an undefined security threat allows your flying privileges to be revoked. The only appeal is to the revoking authority. Are you feeling safer, yet?

What to Know and When to Know It
–FAR 91.103 is used by FAA in enforcement actions against pilots.
--Since 9.11 failing to check notams has been major source of FAA actions
--Regulations require knowing:
--All available information is the universal ‘gotcha’.
--POH or reliable information
--Sectionals and charts
--Weather (#1 source of FAA violations)
--Fuel (Have calibrated dip stick)
--IFR flight in VFR requires only VFR minimum fuel
--Alternatives (rare)
--Known traffic delays (rare)
--FAR 91.3 (Get out of Jail Free Card good once every five years.)

VFR Hemispheric Direction Rule
--Airspace is just as complex as is a street map of a large city.  Diagrams and pictures are not the best way to UNDERSTAND the system. You need to fly it.  That said, here is my take on the hemispheric direction rule.
Basic requirements
--Level flight
--Over 3000' Above Ground Level (AGL)
--Directions are always magnetic.  Use only the magnetic direction of movement not where the plane is pointed.
--The wind is not a consideration
--No one can consistently fly within 3-degrees of a direction
--Draw a line north and south using the North arrow as shown on a VOR compass-rose.  This line is a magnetic course as is any line referenced to magnetic north.

--Any VFR aircraft over 3000' AGL is required to fly at odd thousands + 500' if magnetic course is to the east of the line drawn through the VOR.

--Any VFR aircraft over 3000' AGL is required to fly at even thousands + 500' if the magnetic course is to the west of the line drawn through the VOR.

Exceptions to the hemispheric rule:
Any climbing or descending aircraft
Any aircraft obeying ATC instructions
Any aircraft below 3000 feet above ground level (AGL)

Congested Surface Area
FAA Clarified the meaning of CONGESTED SURFACE its meaning is clarified through NTSB case law and FAA chief counsel opinions. Although it is typically understood as an area of a city, town, or settlement, you'll probably be surprised to learn that the Civil Aeronautics Board (now known as the NTSB) has also considered these areas to be congested: 10 houses and a school; a university campus; a beach along a highway; a camp with people on the dock and children on the shore. If you are not sure, treat the area as if it were congested. And remember, the requirement of the regulation is not only to remain 1,000 above the ground, but also to clear towers and obstacles by 1,000 feet vertically or 2,000 horizontally.

--Below 10,000 MSL
--Ground upward of lateral footprint of controlled airspace/
--Standardized clearance requires one mile visibility ground and flight 
--No ceiling requirement.
--Must remain clear of clouds
--Night SVFR requires instrument rating and equipment.

Airport Advisory Area
Not depicted but exists if FSS (Flight Service Station) is within ten-miles of airport without a tower.  Serves as FSS and advises of runway used and traffic.  (rare).

Rewritten Beetle Bailey (by Gene Whitt)
It seems that for every situation there’s an FAA restriction
Sarg: It seems so.
Beetle; So, to avoid doing the wrong thing, it’s best to do nothing.
Sarg: It’s safer.
I’ll have to think about that.
Sarg: Thinking’s not allowed.

The Mean Level of the Sea
(The only altitude that never has a number?)
Water level measurements at primary tide stations show that the problem is somewhat more complex than that. For one thing, mean sea level measured relative to the land - is changing.

Today, global sea level rise is occurring everywhere due to increases in water volume in the world’s oceans. But the chief reason for the difference in trend shown above lies within the earth’s crust.

Along with most of the U.S. East Coast, falls within a region where the crust is sinking – adding to the effect of a global rise in sea level. However, in many parts of the U.S. West Coast, and especially in Alaska, the crust is actually emerging faster than the global sea level rise rate.

Tidal Factors
Nothing is going to prevent sea level from changing in response to these and other factors. However, we can take sea level averages over several years to obtain a tidal datum - a vertical reference based on some phase of the tide - to slow the process if only temporarily. This is a workable idea because, in addition to sinking crusts and melting ice, tidal variations also have their effect on sea level.

One such effect is the 18.6-year cycle of the lunar nodes – a cycle accompanied by variations in tidal range. Another force for change is the annual variation in solar declination that modulates solar heating and density of ocean waters.

To account for both, a 19-year period of water level averaging – the National Tidal Datum Epoch (NTDE) – has been established in the United States. NTDEs have included the years 1924-1942, 1941-1959, 1960-1978, and most recently, 1983-2001. NTDEs thus are being updated roughly every twenty years.

1) Why nineteen years and not twenty?

"We can take sea level averages over several years to obtain a tidal datum - a vertical reference based on some phase of the tide - to slow the process if only temporarily. This is a workable idea because, in addition to sinking crusts and melting ice, tidal variations also have their effect on sea level.

One such effect is the 18.6-year cycle of the lunar nodes – a cycle accompanied by variations in tidal range. Another force for change is the annual variation in solar declination that modulates solar heating and density of ocean waters.

Basic definitions commonly used in the U.S. and its territories:
Mean Sea Level (MSL) Arithmetic mean of hourly water levels observed during current NTDE.
Mean Higher High Water (MHHW) – Mean of higher high water heights during current NTDE.
Mean High Water (MHW) – Mean of all high water heights observed during current NTDE.
Mean Low Water (MLW) – Mean of all low water heights observed during current NTDE.
Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) – Mean of lower low water heights during current NTDE.
Mean Tide Level (MTL) – A datum located midway between MHW and MLW
All tidal datums have elevations above some arbitrary but well-protected reference – usually the station datum or staff zero

Tidal Datum Transfers
1) Tidal datum elevations vary from place to place as dictated by tide wave hydrodynamics
2) Establishing the datum by direct means (19-year series every 20 years) is an exacting and expensive operation conducted at a relatively small number of primary tide stations. Fortunately, there’s an easier way called simultaneous comparisons.:

At a primary tide station, get the NOS tidal datum elevations for the current NTDE.
--Obtain a month of tidal observations at station B matched by simultaneous readings at station A.
--Calculate monthly mean tide level at both stations
--Calculate the monthly mean range and the range ratio between the stations
--If stations A and B are connected by a tidal waterway and we assume that both experience similar monthly deviations from mean tide level.
There are 175 stations all over the world. Here's a link that allows you to see each station: is a very cool web site! Check it out!

Alert Areas
— Special use airspace which may contain a high volume of pilot training activities or an unusual type of aerial activity. No flight restrictions just watch out.

Class A Airspace — Controlled airspace covering the 48 contiguous United States and Alaska, within 12 nautical miles of the coasts, from 18,000 feet MSL up to and including FL600, but not including airspace less than 1,500 feet AGL.

Class B Airspace — Controlled airspace designated around certain major airports, extending from the surface or higher to specified altitudes. For operations in Class B airspace, all aircraft must receive an ATC clearance to enter, and are subject to the rules and pilot/equipment requirements listed in 14 CFR part 91.

Class C Airspace
— Controlled airspace surrounding designated airports where ATC provides radar vectoring and sequencing on a full-time basis for all IFR and VFR aircraft. Participation is mandatory, and all aircraft must establish and maintain radio contact with ATC, and are subject to the rules and pilot/equipment requirements listed in FAR Part 91.

Class D Airspace — Controlled airspace around at least one primary airport which has an operating control tower. Aircraft operators are subject to the rules and equipment requirements specified in 14 CFR part 91.

Class E Airspace — Controlled airspace which covers the 48 contiguous United States and Alaska, within 12 nautical miles of the coasts, from 14,500 feet MSL up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL. Exceptions are restricted and prohibited areas, and airspace less than 1,500 feet AGL. Class E airspace also includes Federal airways, with a floor of 1,200 feet AGL or higher, as well as the airspace from 700 feet or more above the surface designated in conjunction with an airport which has an approved instrument approach procedure.

Class G Airspace — Airspace that has not been designated as Class A, B, C, D, or E, and within which air traffic control is not exercised.

Controlled Airspace — Airspace designated as Class A, B, C, D, or E, within which some or all aircraft may be subject to air traffic control.

Controlled Firing Areas
— Airspace wherein activities are conducted under conditions so
controlled as to eliminate hazards to nonparticipating aircraft and to ensure the safety of
persons and property on the ground.

Decision Altitude (DA)
— Decision Altitude replaces the familiar term Decision Height (DH). DA conforms to the international convention where altitudes relate to MSL and heights relate to AGL. DA will eventually be published for other types of instrument approach procedures with vertical guidance, as well. DA indicates to the pilot that the published descent profile is flown to the DA (MSL), where a missed approach will be initiated if visual references for landing are not established. Obstacle clearance is provided to allow a momentary descent below DA while transitioning from the final approach to the missed approach. The aircraft is expected to follow the missed approach instructions while continuing along the published final approach course to at least the published runway threshold waypoint or MAP (if not at the threshold), before executing any turns.

Military Operations Area (MOA)
— Special use airspace of defined vertical and lateral limits, established to help VFR traffic identify locations where military activities are conducted.

Military Training Routes (MTRs)
— Route depicted on an aeronautical chart for the conduct of military flight training at speeds above 250 knots.

National Security Areas
— Airspace of defined vertical and lateral dimensions, established at locations where there is a requirement for increased security and safety of ground facilities. Pilots are requested to voluntarily avoid flying through the depicted NSA.

Prohibited Areas
— Airspace of defined dimensions, identified by an area on the surface of the earth within which the flight of aircraft is prohibited.

Restricted Areas
— Designated special use airspace within which aircraft flight, while not prohibited, is subject to restrictions.

Special Use Airspace
— Defined airspace areas where aircraft operations may be limited. Examples include: alert area, controlled firing area, military operations area, prohibited area, restricted area, and warning area.

Uncontrolled Airspace — Airspace designated as Class G airspace within which air traffic control is not exercised.

Warning Area
Is offshore equivalent to Restricted Area inside the United States extending from three nautical miles outward from the coast of the United States, which contains activity that may

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