Class Charlie Photo Flight Notre Dame

Nov 14, 2017

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Class Charlie Photo Flight Notre Dame

Gary's first photo flight as a commercial helicopter pilot. Using the R44, he took a photographer to Notre Dame for needed photographs. Notre Dame is in Class Charlie airspace, and Gary has only flown class Charlie a couple times. Watch the above video that we Aired on live Tuesday training. Pre flight talk, and post flight debrief. Good stuff!

Class Charlie Photo Flight Notre Dame

Before flying to a towered airport, look at the airport diagram and write down frequencies used at that airport for ATIS, Approach (depending on heading possibly), Tower, Ground, Clearance delivery, and Departure.

Always listen to the ATIS (automated terminal information system) before any radio contact is made with towered airports. This will give you local NOTAMS, runways in use, altimeter settings, and winds.

Going into a towered airport that is class B or C will first require contact with approach. The initial message from the helicopter pilot should be something like "South Bend Approach, helicopter N123XZ" 

Approach will then acknowledge and this is when you state your intentions. IE: "South Bend Approach, helicopter N123XZ, inbound South Bend Airport to land at Atlantic aviation and I have information (ATIS letter phonetically)"

Approach will then assign a discrete squawk code for you to put in your transponder and instruct you when to call the tower on the tower frequency.

You then call the tower with something like "South Bend Tower, helicopter N123XZ" and wait. The tower will acknowledge and likely be talking very fast, as they are very busy and managing radio transmissions from various aircraft likely. Advise them of your intentions, just as you did approach. They will give you specific instructions and you must repeat them back each time, so that they know you understand. Do not be afraid to ask them to repeat. It is very important that you know exactly what they want you to do. They may have you land directly to the "non moving area" adjacent the general aviation terminal that you requested. They may have you use the runway and assign specific taxiway use as well. On this particular flight, they said "clear to land runway 27L"

Class Charlie Photo Flight Notre Dame

Upon departure, you should get started and be ready before listing to the current ATIS. Try calling the tower direct with intentions. If they are not busy, they may let you skip clearance delivery, assign a squawk code and give you departure instructions. They may have you leave the "non moving" area directly, or may have you use a taxiway and runway. They may have you call clearance delivery to get your squawk code and then come back to the tower frequency for instructions. 

Once the tower has you on the way, they will have you contact departure for further tracking outbound. Departure may have you squawk 1200 and switch to a unicom, or you may want to call them and request same when you feel you may be getting too far away for the radio. Airplanes fly higher and can reach them from further away. In helicopters, keep in mind that you can't even get the ATIS until you are within 10 miles or less typically.

This flight also included a photo shoot over Notre Dame. This was all done in the Class C airspace and unfortunately was in the approach patch for the runway they were using this particular day. The tower let me leave the non moving area of the general aviation terminal and approach Notre Dame, keeping me on their frequency and squawking a specific transponder code.  They had to have me fly out of the way numerous times for incoming jets. A big consideration during a photo flight is settling with power. The helicopter may begin to settle in its own vortices during out of ground effect hovering. The pilot must be alerted to the signs of SWP and move out of the disturbed air.

Class Charlie Photo Flight Notre Dame

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