CAT-08 Flight: Class C to Class C



Conduct a flight from Santa Barbara Airport (KSBA) to Burbank Airport (KBUR).

Learning objectives

  • Learn radio communications when operating at Class C airports.
  • Review basic VFR navigation skills.

Flying the Rating

To successfully complete this rating you must accomplish the following tasks:

  • Fly from KSBA to KBUR.
  • Inform ATC on initial contact at KSBA that you are performing the CAT-8 Rating.
  • Request flight following for the flight (you can make the request on the ground or after departure).
  • Meet the CAT Ratings Practical Test Standards

Airspace Review

Class C Airspace is located around larger airports where arrival and departure sequencing is required.

To operate in Class C airspace you must have a working mode C transponder and establish two way radio communication by contacting Air Traffic Control and having them reply with your callsign.

Communications Review

Class C Departure

When departing from a Class C airport the first step will be to either contact Clearance Delivery or Ground Control to obtain initial departure instructions. To determine who to call (Ground or Clearance Delivery) listen to the ATIS.

Be sure to include your aircraft type, cruise altitude, destination, and ATIS code when requesting your VFR departure instructions. If you don’t have a specific destination you can provide a general direction of departure. Additionally if you desire flight following once clear of the Class C airspace you should advise clearance delivery in your initial call.

Clearance Delivery will provide initial departure instructions, a departure frequency, and a transponder code.

When ready to taxi call ground and provide your location on the airport. Ground will provide taxi instructions.

After departing you should expect tower to instruct you to contact departure. At this time you should tune in the frequency that Clearance Delivery provided and check in with them.

Departure will provide Class C services until you are clear of the Class C outer area (normally 20 NM from the airport). At this time you will either be instructed to squawk VFR and that a frequency change is approved, or provide flight following services (if previously requested).

Class C Services

While operating within Class C airspace and within the Class C outer area all aircraft are provided Class C services by the local approach control.

Class C services consist of traffic advisories, sequencing into the Class C airport, and separation between VFR and IFR aircraft operating in the airspace. All aircraft are automatically provided this service unless they specifically request not to.

If you do not want Class C services you should advise Clearance Delivery that you are “negative radar services”. This will normally result in you being routed clear of class C airspace in the quickest manner possible (usually by being routed under it). Inbound aircraft that do not desire radar service should stay below the Class C outer ring and contact tower directly. Note that in some cases this manner of avoiding Class C services may not be possible and may result in being told to contact approach for sequencing.

Class C Arrival

Arriving at a Class C airport is simply the reverse of departing. If you are not receiving flight following, around 20NM from the airport and prior to entering Class C airspace contact approach control on the frequency listed on your VFR chart. On initial contact you should provide your callsign, location, altitude, request, and the ATIS code. Approach control will provide a transponder code and once radar identified Class C services into the airport.

If you are already in communication with approach as a result of receiving flight following, there is no need to make any additional calls.

In either case, approach control will advise you to contact tower at the appropriate time.

Aircraft that are receiving flight following will automatically be provided Class C services once they approach Class C airspace. No specific action is required by the pilot to initiate these services.


Previous ratings have reviewed flight following services. Arriving at a Class C airport when under flight following services is identical to arriving at a Class D airport with flight following. Below is an example for the radio transmissions required for departing a Class C airport.

N123AB: “Santa Barbara Clearance Delivery, Cessna 123AB, Cessna 172 slant golf, request flight following to Burbank at 7500 with information echo.”

Santa Barbara Clearance Delivery: “Cessna 123AB, Santa Barbara Clearance Delivery, on departure fly runway heading, maintain VFR at or below 1500, departure frequency 120.55, squawk 7110.”

N123AB: “On Departure fly runway heading, maintain VFR at or below 1500, departure frequency 120.55 squawk 7110.”

Santa Barbara Clearance Delivery: “Cessna 123AB, read back correct.”

When ready to taxi

N123AB: “Santa Barbara Ground, N123AB, transient parking, ready to taxi.”

Santa Barbara Ground: “Cessna 123AB, Santa Barbara Ground, runway 25 taxi via bravo, alpha, golf.”

N123AB: “Runway 25 taxi via bravo, alpha, golf”

When ready for departure:

N123AB: “Santa Barbara Tower, Cessna 123AB, holding short runway 25.”

Santa Barbara Tower: “Cessna 123AB, Santa Barbara Tower, Runway 25, cleared for takeoff.”

N123AB: “Cleared for takeoff runway 25.”

Santa Barbara Tower: “Cessna 123AB, contact Santa Barbara Departure.”

N123AB: “Contact departure, Cessna 123AB.”

Switch to 120.55.

N123AB: “Santa Barbara Departure, Cessna 123AB, 1000 climbing 1500.”

Santa Barbara Departure: “Cessna 123AB, radar contact, resume own navigation and appropriate VFR altitudes”

At this time you can resume your own navigation and climb to your planned cruise altitude.

Cockpit Video

Related Material

VFR Communications Manual (commercial product) provides detailed guidance on ATC communications for VFR flights.

Airport Traffic Patterns (Wikipedia)

How to Fly a Traffic Pattern

Web site containing scrollable, zoomable VFR and IFR charts

VFR Cruising Altitudes

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge – Navigation

FAA publication on basic and advanced VFR navigation skills.

VFR Flight Planning and Navigation Workshop

YouTube recording of a live workshop conducted by PilotEdge covering VFR flight planning and navigation methods.