Big, Busy, B Airports


New Member
Ever since I began my training, I've wanted to land at Newark Airport (in my little Cessna). Most people tell me that I have a death wish or that Im not allowed, which I don't think is the case. Perhaps there are special training requirements and limited time when they'll even welcome me, but I dont think its completely out of the question. I realize there is a hefty landing fee and some planning involved, yet I think it is still possible. I am wondering if anyone has done something similiar? If so, how did it go? What was involved? Would you recommend it?
If you are a private pilot or higher you can land there. As a student pilot you may be able to after an endorsement from your instructor.

Be prepared for a lot of holding, a lot of frequency congestion (and along with it fast communications) and probably a cool welcome from ATC. If they are too busy they may turn you away. You're best bet would be to go in at a very low traffic time - like say 2a.m. or 3a.m. or whatever it is for Newark.

It's doable but there is a reason small GA airports nearyby are referred to as "reliever" airports. They "relieve" the class B of all the GA traffic and allow it to concentrate on Commercial ops.
The largest airport I've landed at is Houston Intercontinental. Before I land at an unfamiliar class B airport, I always call the Flight Service Station and ask for a number where I can contact either the tower or airport operations and ask about landing fees, restrictions on private operations, etc. Most landing fees are charged by the pound, so it probably won't be too much for a cessna. Information on this could possibly be found in the AFD or at

Like Pilot 602, I would reccomend you make the flight late at night, or if you must go during the day make it a sunday morning or saturday evening.
The largest airport I've landed at is Houston Intercontinental. Before I land at an unfamiliar class B airport, I always call the Flight Service Station and ask for a number where I can contact either the tower or airport operations and ask about landing fees, restrictions on private operations, etc. Most landing fees are charged by the pound, so it probably won't be too much for a cessna. Information on this could possibly be found in the AFD or at

Like Pilot 602, I would reccomend you make the flight late at night, or if you must go during the day make it a sunday morning or saturday evening.

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When I used to return from late-night cargo runs back into KPHX, they'd even let me fly a few patterns for practice.
Iain and I went into LAX at around 3pm on a weekday. It really wasn't too busy.

The Socal controller: "Um... Cessna 512 verify destination."
Me: "Los Angeles International"
Socal: "Is that LAX or Whiteman?"
Me: "Los Angeles INTERNATIONAL!"
Socal: "oooook turn right hdg 270"

There's nothing really hard or different about it, just keep your cool and remember that YOU'RE PIC! Study that airport diagram, the flight's not over until you park it and shut it down. There've been some other threads about this, run a search!

Kind of cool too because I knew one of the pilots who was taking off at the time of my arrival:
Him: "...Hey Ed!"
Me: "Hey Dude, Cessna 512".... DOH!
Just remember to get the OK to enter class B(if you are VFR, contact with ATC will not do, they must say you are cleared into the XXX class B). Also, it might be helpful to review wake turbulence stuff before you go, other than that its really no different than any other airport just more traffic. Sounds fun.
I am not sure if the regs have changed - but when I was a student I did it with an instructor as it was a 'training flight'. The hold going into LAX was never that bad - I have waited longer going into SNA - you normally make a couple 360's but nothing hoorendous. I have never been refused entry into Class B, but I can say on a couple times it has been awfully busy (I never went late at night, 11:00 in the morning 1 time, and mid afternoon the others). I would suggest taking some one who can be prepared with the airport diagram upon landing, change frequencies, and maybe even do all the communication if you are super busy. As Ed mention treat it like any other airport, at the end of the day it is just another airport (which looks extra cool in the log book), you do not have to fly your approach at 125 knots (unlike everyone will tell you)!! My only other suggestion, Ed and I fly out of SNA which is class C with lots of airlines, wake turbulance, jetblast so we had quite a lot of relative experience before we went. If you are flying out of a small airport (something that does not have a terminal with jetways is a good rule of thumb) go and fly into all your local class C airports - probably best with an instructor. There are a lot more dangers at a big busy airport (especially when you are small) so you do have to be well prepared, and safety concious. I was up in the tower at LAX once, and was astonished at how small a EMB-120 looked from up there, I have taxied my 172 next to one before and they are huge compared to us - think how small that makes us from the tower.

Ed - my favorites from LAX:

TOWER - JAL 744 cleared to land runway 25 L caution wake turbulance skyhawk 2 mile final

TOWER: AA767 cleared to land you are following a cessna skyhawk on short final

AA 767: Cleared to land runway 25 L

A minute or so later, as I am touching down.

AA 767: Los Angeles tower AA 767 - were you serious there is a cessna infront of us, we have not seen him yet, and are wondering if we have over taken him.

I was rolling out, and they were probably a few miles. The ended up seeing us luckily!

I think flying into LAX is the only time I look behind me on final to see if I need to abort my landing!!!
I have never been refused entry into Class B,

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ATL's reponse to VFR taffic checking in is 9 out of 10 times...

Appr: Cessna 1234 radar contact, stay clear of class B.

To the original poster, look out for landing fees, your not going to want to do this after you see it!
I've flown in quite a few Class B. One time I was headed to Intercontinental with a student. 777was on my ass and I was in a C-152 and ATC calls you 'Cessna231 Accelarate to 90 knots for the 777 8 miles out, thats full throttle and usually I 'slam' it down when I'm going decelarting sloooowly in that damn 152 on short short final from 90 knots.Scary experiance for new pilots but I've done it many times flying in and out of New Orleans Moisant, Houston Intefcontinental, and DFW. I would suggest doing it though, definately worth the experiance.
Really depends on the airport .... I did most of my training at Orlando Executive, which is less than 10 miles north of Orlando International. I've got about numerous landings at International, all of which were "cleared for the option or cleared touch-and-go." Really depends on when you ask .... because the most frequent approach/landing into MCO was to the south and went right over ORL, you could watch to see how long the line was. If there were jetliners as long as you could see coming in to land, it wasn't worth asking. If it was quiet, we'd ask for a practice landing, approach, whatever, and were never turned down. It is true, though, that some C airports are "busier" than B airports (or at least more congested). I'm out of John Wayne (SNA) now which somehow manages to have training schools in addition to close to 200 daily commercial flights .... I've had several occasions where I've had two go-arounds in a row before I've been able to land, held short of the runway to take off for up to 20 minutes, and have circled outside of the airspace while waiting to get cleared to enter. It's crazy sometimes.

Bottom line is do your research, make sure it's OK with the airport and instructor/flight school, and be super familiar with what's going on in terms of radio communication, checkpoints, and ground operations. If all that checks out, go for it.
You've flown into DFW in a cessna John? Did anyone try and charge you for doing touch and goes there? I've read that there was a landing fee, otherwise I would've done a few touch and goes at DFW during my past few trips to dallas. I wouldn't want to do a full stop at DFW and mess with taxiing all over the place to find their FBO though. I've landed at Love Field several times with no problem (no landing or ramp fees).
When I was a full-time CFI, I would not sign off a private pilot student until they had been with me to a Class B airport and a grass strip. My logic was they'd be used to the 5500' paved nontowered airport just outside a Class B where they learned, but they should have as wide an exposure to other airports as possible. Most of my students loved doing both the grass and the Bravo.

I love going in to Class B in light airplanes ... my goal is to hit them all eventually. I've done quite a few: EWR, JFK, BWI, IAD, CLT, ATL, MCO, MEM, PHL, PIT, MCI, IAH, DAL, HOU, and DTW. Did DTW in a snowstorm, BWI in low IFR, EWR in the rain. I almost always go IFR (obviously). As mentioned, you are the PIC and safety is priority one, but it'll make ATC a lot happier if you can keep the speed up. I did several of these airports in a Bonanza and planned 160 to the marker (clean) and 140 (gear down, apch flaps) inside, usually landed with approach flaps. Did several in Cherokees and 172s though and 120 knots to short final (assuming smooth air, of course) was always enough to make the controllers happy.

If you go in to a distant B IFR file or expect the appropriate STAR and be familiar with the fixes on it. I went to IAD several times and was always assigned the JASEN arrival, which has many fixes on it and controllers who will shortcut you (such as "after DOCCS direct JASEN rejoin the arrival"). Study thoroughly the airport diagram and know where the FBO is before you land. Don't be afraid to ask for progressive taxi ... large airports can be more difficult to navigate on the ground than they appear on the diagram. Take somebody with you who is comfortable with it, be prepared to cough up some fees, but go for it. Except for DCA, which is punitively closed to all but the airlines for no good reason, you can take a single-engine airplane in to any Class B in the country. Only catches are JFK and LGA ... at JFK you need slots between 3pm and 8pm and at LGA between 6am and midnight.

EWR is a blast, the controllers are helpful (though they talk VERY fast), and you get a great view of Manhattan on the way in.

Good luck!

Thanks everyone!

I am really excited now and am definately gonna go for it. I talked with the FSS earlier today and they gave me a few more numbers to contact. I have my private and am working on my instruments so that should come in handy, although Ill be going VFR. I listen to EWR tower on my transceiver and deal with NY Approach trying to get around the area as it is. For my second solo cross country I went to Islip, which required 8 frequency changes and lots of diverting / flying in circles, so I have some experience with the controllers. I have exhausted all the local class C airports around here, even Bradley, which was quite intense. So far I have gathered that I should take a 172 over my prefered 152, brush up on radio calls, supersize an airport diagram and have some fun!
Thanks again.
And take a friend - everyone else has 2 people in the cockpit and both of them are busy!! If all they do is frequency changes it will help you a lot. And trust me you will be very busy, and having some one sitting there who is not very busy and keeping an eye on you is always nice.
Iain is right on it, if you have never landed at a Class B airport, take a friend with flying experience. My instructor and I, during my PPL training, used to do a touch and go at DIA every so often. We only got turned down once because we hit right when a bunch of heavy cargo planes were coming in, other than that it was cool. One time they vectored us right over the main terminal so we could get a good look at the field.

If you do only a touch and go, there are no landing fees.
I landed at Newark about a year ago in a light twin, I came in from the east and they brought me on a right downwind for RWY 11.

It was totally managable, not very hectic at all if they put you on that runway because the General Aviation section is on the north side of the field right there.

It wasn't my aircraft so I don't know if the owner had to pay a landing fee, but I do know that we didn't need a reservation to land there unlike LaGuardia.
I trained out of, and currently fly out of a busy Class B (BWI). I PREFER it. Professional handling, flight following from wheels up, IFR-like ops (even when VFR)--you feel like a pro, even in a 150.
FL270 .... elaborate a bit if you would on your experience at the B airports. Were they full-stops/touch-and-go/taxi to parking? How about landing fees?
I never did touch and goes - I thought that was unfriendly considering how busy they are working, and for you to go in there just to play around. I always stopped there for an hour or so, sometimes took pictures, or got the van to take us to In and Out. There was no landing fee just a $20 ramp fee, which I think is quite reasonable.