Finding the balance between over-controlling and under-controlling can be tough.
Tower commands like “I’ll call your base”, “Extend downwind”, “Extend upwind”, ect. are commands you can use to control your pattern. Those are the tools at your disposal. When to use them can be unclear though.
The goal is to send the least commands possible, while still being concise and clear. You want your pilots to know what you want from them, take the onus off of them, but only send commands when it is necessary.
Over-control by sending unnecessary superfluous commands that will overcomplicated things, or under-control and let your pattern become a hot mess. It’s can be hard to balance it out. See something, do something.
Be proactive not reactive.
This blog’s goal is to educate pilots and controllers who use the popular mobile flight simulator, Infinite Flight.
The information we share in no way should be applied in real world operations and is not to be used for training purposes. Always consult a flight instructor.
We reference real world publications and materials in our posts, and try our best to make it clear when we are referencing a real world or Infinite Flight procedure.
Due to the fact that users of the simulator have varying levels of aviation knowledge, some procedures used in Infinite Flight are simplified by the Infinite Flight Staff, in comparison to real world procedures. So information will in some cases differ. You can find all of Infinite Flight’s ATC procedures in the public version of the ATC Manual.
If you spot any issues with any of the information shared on our site or have any questions, please reach out and email me at email@example.com.
According to the FAA’s Instrument Flying Handbook, “A straight course minimizes the amount of time in the thunderstorms and turning only increases structural stress on the aircraft (FAA)”
When flying on Infinite Flight, it can be fun to simulate this. Simply open up a basic weather radar on the web and follow where the storm goes in relation to your course and your aircraft’s current location. Use towns and cities to get your bearings.
This advice doesn’t cover all situations and is broad, but you should avoid turning to deviate out of a thunderstorm. But based on the severity of the storm, and it’s size, it may be advisable to turn around. The smartest way to avoid thunderstorms is to simply keep your distance.
1. “FAA-H-8083-16B” Instrument Flying Handbook
Found out something new the other day regarding the waypoints shown on these approach plates for LOWI. Take a look at 19-10, the Special Circling Procedure.
This is a transition from an instrument approach to a visual approach at DME 6.3 (OEV) into LOWI.
This uses a VOR/DME. A VOR/DME is a radio beacon that combines a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) with a distance measuring equipment (DME). The VOR allows the receiver to measure its bearing to or from the beacon, while the DME provides the slant distance between the receiver and the station.
Each point has a measurement from both the DME and the VOR. So let’s zero in on D4.2 OEV/D6.5 OEJ. So if you’re flying that approach and you’re 4.2nm from OEV, the DME, and 6.5nm from OEJ, the VOR, on a heading of 255, you’d know you are on course. Each point is a measurement to aid the pilot while they use their radio equipment to measure the distance they are from both the VOR and DME.
Mind blown, and very good to know. Hope that helps you when you attempt to land at LOWI.
1. “How It Works: Distance Measuring Equipment” by AOPA, December 1, 2017.
Since it’s inception, ifatc.org has been a great resource for controllers. Whether it be to find an airport to control, check inbound statistics, have a reference for terrain, ect. It has a lot of amazing uses.
The downside to being so useful is that people tend to rely way to heavily on the site, and don’t check other things before opening. In some instances, the information shown on the site can be also misleading due to some small inaccuracies.
It’s not the only resource, there’s many more that should be checked prior to controlling.
Before opening, you will need do your due diligence and research in order to properly get acclimated so you can provide the service required. Here’s a list of what I check prior to opening.
That’s only some of the resources available. Then most importantly, I will confirm what I found on LiveFlight or FlightAware for size requirements by spawning in different sized aircraft, taxiing around to see if the aircraft fit in their respective gates and taxiways.
Then I’ll takeoff to try to determine the MSA altitudes using both my eyes, the AGL (Above Ground Level) altitude and the resources I listed. Fly over peaks, mountain ranges, ect. to determine that.
Then whilst controlling I will use ForeFlight and/or ifatc.org as backups.
Use all available resources at your disposal.
The design capabilities of an aircraft affect its performance. Thus, certain environmental influences and aerodynamics play an important role. It is not enough that you know the airplane maneuvers, manageable load, stall speeds, and take off speeds. You should also be aware how temperature and humidity affect aircraft performance.
Fred Rogers was asked in an interview with Charlie Rose, “How many kids do you think are out there, over the 30 years you’ve influenced, who you’ve made a difference, made them feel something special”. His answer, “I don’t care how many, even if it’s just one.”
There’s multiple ways you could apply this to controlling, but here’s one. Treat every pilot like they are important, and your work will reflect that treatment on the rest of the pilots you service. Treat everyone equal and don’t worry about the numbers.
1. “The Best of Mr. Rogers” video.
It may seem like a simple concept, but for most sequencing becomes unnecessarily complex.
Simply sequence when it makes sense to. You want it to be clear to the pilot who they are following. Due to a lack of specific commands to identify aircraft types, you need to make it super clear to the pilot who they are following.
Too early and you’ll confuse the pilot, they may get the wrong information and need to be resequenced. Too late and the pilot will be scrambling. Find the happy medium.
Crosscheck is a generic term used by pilots and flight attendants meaning that one person has verified the task of another. In the cabin, flight attendants crosscheck one another’s stations to make sure the doors are armed or disarmed as necessary.
1. “How to Speak Airline: A Glossary for Travelers” on Ask the Pilot