Before reading this, please read Communications at Towered Airports

When flying at an uncontrolled airport, the procedure for communications is somewhat simpler than at a controlled airport, but certain calls will be slightly different. For one, the pilot is going to say what he’s doing, rather than asking for permission. Let’s start with the same call to taxi to the active runway. We’ll assume the wind is favoring runway two zero.

Getting Started

Pilot: “Marion Traffic, Warrior two eight seven five x-ray taxiing to runway two zero, east departure. Marion. “

When taxiing out, this is the only call that the pilot makes. Noone responds, with the possible exception of another aircraft that might be in the way of the annouced path. Note the wording changes from “Marion Ground” to “Marion Traffic.” With an uncontrolled field, there is only one frequency, called a CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency) rather than one frequency for ground control and one for tower control.

Some pilots add the phrasing “Any traffic, please advise.” Which simply asks other aircraft to call out their positions.

When the pilot is ready to take-off, he or she would make the following call before taxiing onto the runway.

Pilot: “Marion Traffic, Warrior two eight seven five x-ray, departing runway two zero, to the East. Marion.”

Note that the addition of the location name at the end of each call when at an uncontrolled field.

From the Air

When approaching an uncontrolled airport, a pilot is always expected to fly a full traffic pattern rather than make a straight-in approach. The initial call should be 10 miles out.

Pilot: “Marion Traffic, Warrior two eight seven five x-ray, one zero miles South inbound landing runway two-zero


There are way too many specific calls to list here, and ever call is a bit different, but don’t get overworked about it. The guy on the other end is human too, and he’s made a mistake a few times, and won’t get upset if you screw something up.

The best way to learn ATC communications is to buy a scanner, tune it to your local airport’s tower frequency and listen to other pilots talk. Nothing has prepared me for communications more than my scanner.