Overcoming the Fear of Talking to Air Traffic Control

Overcoming the Fear of Talking to Air Traffic Control

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How does a student pilot overcome the fear that they experience when having to communicate with an Air Traffic Controller (ATC)?

For many student pilots, overcoming the fear of talking to ATC usually stems from a lack of confidence, which is supported by a need for more knowledge and practical experience.

Imagine if you could practice communicating with ATCs from the comfort of your home or workspace.

Imagine that such an experience would transfer to the cockpit, resulting in confidence rather than fear when engaging ATC?

Monitoring Air Traffic Control Communications

Via aviation radio communications rebroadcast via LiveATC website, you can monitor ATC tower, arrival/departure and ground control at airports worldwide, that are presently supported by this service.

For student pilots and ATC enthusiasts located in the St. Petersburg, Florida area, you can monitor Tampa International Airport ATC operations via LiveATC. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is not presently supported by LiveATC.

Handheld Radio Communication Scanners

Investing in an expensive analog handheld scanner, like Uniden's Bearcat BC75XLT or SR30C models, provides the capability to monitor ATC at airports that are within the scanner's location.

A handheld analog scanner can be used to monitor smaller airports, like St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Albert Wittig public airport.

Air Traffic Control Simulators

Imagine no more! There are two popular Air Traffic Control Simulation Platforms that you can use to learn, practice, and gain the confidence that you'll need to confidently engage with ATC.

Founded in 1998, the International Virtual Aviation Organization, or IVAO for short, provides an online platform for flight simulation enthusiasts.

The Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network

The Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network (VATSIM) is a free online platform which enables virtual pilots to connect their flight simulators into one shared virtual world.

Learn more about VATSIM by reading An Introduction to the VATSIM ATC Simulator, the first of a series intended for ATC and general aviation pilot students and enthusiasts.

If you're wondering which ATC to select for your needs, Microsoft's Flight Simulator Community currently has an active discussion comparing these two ATC simulation platforms.

Final Thoughts

General Aviation pilots and enthusiasts have a good selection of free and paid ATC simulator applications that can be used to practice and become proficient in this important aspect of aviation.

Commercial airline pilots, who invest many hours in flight training and log thousands of hours flying, face the same challenges in communicating effectively with ATC and ground controllers. Though exchanges between ATCs and flight crews can be heated, they can sometimes be hilarious.


Jim Intriglia, Student Pilot and FlightSim Enthusiast

I became a General Aviation student pilot in 2015, realizing a lifelong dream to learn more about aviation and learn how to fly various aircraft.

If you would like to learn how to fly, contact Walter Matthews, Certified Flight Instructor, Skyward Bound Aviation Services.


Screenshot Courtesy: Jan Kees Blom, New Zealand Flightsim Forum
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