Learn how to speak to ATC with confidence! Our innovative approach will give you extensive opportunities to practice in a relaxed, friendly environment.
By the end of this course, you will:
- Be able to communicate with ATC (whether in real life, on VATSIM and PilotEdge). You will know what to say, when to say it, and understand what ATC is saying to you. You will get practice talking with ground, tower, approach/departure, and center controllers.
- Know what airspace you can and can’t fly in. You will learn to fly in Class D, E, and G airspace under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) using FAA procedures
- Understand how to obtain and use airport and sectional chart information to perform basic flight planning
- Understand numerous variations of ATC instructions (such as hold short, line up and wait, traffic pattern modifications, wake turbulence and traffic advisories, and more)
- Understand how to use online ATC networks like PilotEdge and VATSIM as practice tools
Real-world student pilots: If you complete this course, we are confident that you will be able to tackle radio communications during your flight lessons. Your instructor will be impressed and you will have more mental capacity to focus on flying the aircraft.
Flight sim enthusiasts: Fly on VATSIM and PilotEdge with confidence. Your skills will also transfer to real-world flying or other online networks like IVAO.
Our unique approach treats learning ATC like it really is—learning a new language!
You will learn the basic building blocks of ATC communications using easy-to-remember mnemonics, and you will get extensive repetition at both speaking and listening to ATC instructions. We’ll start simple, but by the end of the course, you will be able to handle more complex instructions with confidence.
In just four engaging lessons, you may very well have practiced more than many student pilots will during their entire flight training.
"The course contained a wealth of information, presented in both lecture format and then the hands on application of the communications taught by actually flying the aircraft. The available recording of the course was very effective in allowing one to review the many points covered.. The presentation was given in a professional manner from instructors with very experienced backgrounds. Homework was given to enhance the overall immersion into ATC communication. The net result was a solid competency of the beginning student to be able to enter the world of ATC communication from a pilot’s perspective."
Our next available class starts on March 18, 2023 with the following schedule. Each class runs from 10 AM-12 PM EDT (1400-1600Z), except the first class (on March 18) will be extended an extra 30 mins (until 12:30 PM EDT) to accomodate the guest ATC speaker.
The first half of each class will consist of briefing and initial practice of the relevant radio calls.
The second half will consist of you flying your simulator to practice what you have learned along with the other students. The instructor will act as ATC in addition to providing helpful guidance and suggestions as you practice your radio calls.
You will learn not only from the instructor’s direct feedback to you, but also from the feedback given to the other students.
Each class will end with a suggested homework assignment to reinforce what you have learned.
You can utilize the free 1-on-1 coaching session at any point when you would like to receive extra support or practice.
Software used: Each class will be conducted using Zoom as the primary method of communication. A stable internet connection and a computer microphone are required. Webcam is not required.
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- Lesson 1 — Communicating with a control tower (2.5 hrs): Intro to the National Airspace System and entry requirements; interpreting airspace on sectional charts; communications best practices and structure; airport diagrams and frequencies; taxi instructions; hot spots; takeoff clearances. Also includes a guest speaker presentation by an experienced Air Traffic Controller with the opportunity for Q&A!
- Lesson 2 — Traffic patterns and VATSIM intro (2 hrs): ATIS and weather info; traffic pattern review; hold short instructions; use of “unable,” types of landing clearances; confirmation of instructions; clearing the runway; taxi instructions to parking; VATSIM intro
- Lesson 3 — Traffic pattern entry/exit and PilotEdge intro (2 hrs): Flight from KSBP to KSMX; basic flight planning; other instructions and advisories from the tower (such as line up and wait, traffic advisories, and wake turbulence); go around instructions; calling tower inbound to land; traffic pattern entry instructions; visualizing the entry into the traffic pattern; traffic pattern modifications; PilotEdge intro
- Lesson 4 — Flight following (2 hrs): Flight from KPRB to KSBP; flight planning; center and approach airspace; basic radar services; how to request flight following; radar traffic advisories and collision avoidance; handoffs; termination of radar service
- An ATC script you can use as a quick reference guide
- Access to recordings of each lesson for your review (available for up to 6 months)
- A 30-minute 1-on-1 lesson with any of our Certified Flight Instructors (valid within 2 months of the course start date). Use this to get set up on VATSIM/PilotEdge, to get extra assistance on areas where you need more help, or to cover more advanced topics (such as class C/B airspace, LAHSO operations, etc.).
This class will be taught by Nick Marcantonio, an FAA CFI/CFII and active airline pilot who enjoys helping pilots refine proper radio technique.
He has been instructor since 2015 and has taught private, instrument, commercial, and multi-engine students. He has used home flight simulation for my own training and to teach others since 2008.
Our guest, Mike Thometz, has over 20 years of experience in controlling aircraft in the US Navy in various environments including TRACON and Local control.
He also has over 20 years experience in flying aircraft including turbine, piston, multi-engine, single-engine, and glider aircraft. He has been instructing students in the Navy, in Civil Air Patrol, and civilians for the past 10 years.
During class 1, he will be speaking about about ATC philosophy, phraseology, and how to stay on ATC's good side. Afterwards, he will be available for a short Q&A period.
This class will be taught by Mike Catalfamo, an FAA CFI/CFII and former airline pilot. He has flown a variety of aircraft throughout some of the most complex, fast-paced airspace in the US.
Mike also has familiarity with the air traffic controller’s point of view. In 2009, he interned at a Class C airport ATC facility, where he spent many hours observing controllers both in the tower and TRACON (terminal radar approach control).
We may also incorporate guest instructors to help you learn from a variety of styles and perspectives.
"I have made major breakthroughs running those drills you sent over in the past few days. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be working with you. I have made more progress in a few short lessons than I have in the last ten years. The best educational experience I’ve ever had."
Compare with other ways of learning ATC communications
We recognize that there are numerous free resources available to help you learn ATC communications. However, we believe this course will be perfect for you if:
- You’re afraid to “get in the way” of other traffic on online ATC networks like VATSIM and you prefer a friendly and low-stress learning environment
- You want to quickly build or improve your ATC communications skills
- You want immediate, personalized feedback on how to improve
- You tend to have many questions as you’re learning, and you want them answered immediately, instead of having to research or ask an instructor later
- You want to learn to how to maximize the use of your home flight simulator to practice ATC comms
- You prefer highly visual and interactive approach to your learning
- You want to learn in an environment where you’re assured of having several other aircraft/pilots on the frequency (as dealing with other traffic on frequency and building a mental picture is an important part of ATC communications practice)
- You want the option for 1-on-1 support during your course