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The Advantages of Adventuring

Using Airport Visits to Advance Skills (and Pilot Stories!)

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Photo courtesy of the City of Chandler, Ariz.
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  • A trip to a smaller airport on a typical summer day in the mid-Atlantic region gave me a whole new appreciation for the challenge of spotting an unfamiliar airport in thick haze. I also learned what 3-to-5-mile visibility really looks like.
  • On a flight to an airport in Class C airspace, the controller abruptly canceled my landing clearance and gave me a vector to allow an airliner to zoom past. I then needed to use those ground school lessons in wake turbulence avoidance, make a last-minute runway change, and taxi through a concrete maze very different from the single-runway simplicity of my home airport.
  • A scenic airport in mountainous terrain reinforced lessons about density altitude. Because its runway was also shorter than the one at home base, that airport also provided a good reminder of how important practical performance calculations are to safe operations.

People (and Pets)

Many educational and proficiency benefits accrue from flying to unfamiliar airports.


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Airports are a great place for aviation enthusiasts to see a wide variety of aircraft types.


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Practicing Scenario-Based Training

Susan K. Parson ( is editor of FAA Safety Briefing and a Special Assistant in the FAA’s Flight Standards Service. She is a general aviation pilot and flight instructor.
This article was originally published in the September/October 2021 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.
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Official FAA safety policy voice for general aviation. Part of the national FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam).