Above: How to fly into Class Charlie airspace from another airport.
Class C Airspace
Class C airspace is relatively straight forward. Not only are the dimension of Class C airspace easy to understand, but it is also easy to enter.
Requirements to enter Class C Airspace:
- Two-way radio communication (usually by first calling approach control)
- Establish communication with approach control (or in rarer circumstances, call tower directly).
Class C Airspace Standards:
- Inner ring is 5nm radius, from the surface to 1,200′ agl
- Outer ring is 10nm radius, from 1,200′ agl to 4,000′ agl (these are default values, actual floor and ceiling values will be given in MSL, i.e. The airport is at 500′ msl, the floor of the outer ring would be 1,700’msl (1,200′ agl) and 4,500′ msl for the ceiling of the outer ring).
- Class C airports typically have some airline traffic, but maybe only 20-30 flights per day.
- They will have Ground Control, Tower, and Approach Control.
- Approach Control typically controls an area 20-30 miles from the airport, yet you only LEGALLY need to talk to them if you are entering into Class C airspace. It is still a good idea to contact them even if you are just flying by near or the Class C airspace “rings”.
Class C Weather Requirements
- Class C requires 3SM visibility, 1000′ above clouds, 500′ below clouds, and 2000′ horizontal.
- Just remember “3 Cessna 152s”
The Upside-Down Wedding Cake
The concept behind this layering is that it allows aircraft to remain in Class Charlie airspace throughout the descent as they approach the airport. It provides protection for faster aircraft while allowing smaller aircraft to operate out of nearby airports by having a smaller surface footprint.
Although the Class C airspace dimensions discussed above are typical, the shape of the airspace can change to accommodate surrounding terrain; such as tall mountains.
Below: How to depart a Class C airport and what steps you’ll need to take in contacting all the appropriate air traffic controllers: