First Flight on PilotEdge

If you’re looking for some suggestions to get started, here is a short, simple flight you can try from a non-towered airport (Oceano, L52) to a towered airport (San Luis Obispo, KSBP) in a single engine training aircraft (a Cessna 172 or Piper Warrior, for example).

We specifically have you start from a non-towered airport so that you can connect to the network and get in the air without speaking with ATC first. Your first actual ATC interaction will be in mid-air as you begin your arrival at San Luis Obispo very shortly after taking off.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Optional: conduct a radio check by setting COM1 and COM2 radios to 123.45, with both radios enabled for receiving. Make a quick radio transmission. You should hear yourself (via the COM2 radio). Alternatively, you can park on the ramp at a towered airport (such as KSBP) and call ground for a radio check.
  • Open the LAX Sectional chart and locate Oceano, L52, or use this shortcut to
  • position your aircraft at L52 on the ramp (NOT a runway or taxiway, remember, other people might be flying, too)
  • listen to the San Luis Obispo ATIS (120.60) and note the code (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc)
  • tune to COM1 radio to published frequency for L52 (122.70)
  • set the San Luis tower in the standby frequency: 124.00
  • taxi to the runway of your choice. Once holding short, make the call on 122.70: “Oceano traffic, Cessna taking off runway [runway number], departing north, Oceano.”
  • once clear of the pattern, swap to San Luis tower frequency (124.00) and make the call, “San Luis tower, Cessna 123AB 6 miles south, landing with [atis code]”
  • you’ll probably hear, “Cessna 3AB, San Luis tower, report left base runway 29”
  • respond: “report left base for runway 29, Cessna 3AB”
  • line up for a left base for runway 29 (one 90 degree turn left before being on final), then make the call, “tower, Cessna 3AB, left base 29.”
  • you’ll probably hear, “Cessna 3AB, wind [winds], runway 29 cleared to land.”
  • respond: “cleared to land runway 29, Cessna 3AB”
  • land the plane, and exit wherever it’s convenient for you unless tower instructs you to exit at a specific place as you slow down on the roll out

This is a dynamic environment. You might exit the runway before tower gets back to you, in which case, you can say, “tower, Cessna 3AB is clear to the left taxi to parking,” or perhaps tower will address you as you’re slowing down, “Cessna 3AB, exit next left, taxi to the ramp, remain this frequency.”

Feel free to repeat this flight, and other similarly simple flights as an ice-breaker to become comfortable flying online with ATC.

If you’ve completed the First Flight and are looking for a structured program to work thorough, check out the very popular VFR CAT Ratings and IFR I-Ratings programs. Both of those programs step you through a logical series of flights that help you learn the ropes of VFR and IFR flying.

Here’s a video of a flight conducted by Mark Hargrove, a PilotEdge user, showing the flight described above.