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FAA Tower Tours  
User currently onlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1672 posts, RR: 2
Posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 4449 times:

I have a nephew who has his pilot's license. Back in 2000 I went out to Memphis International Airport with him, and we walked right up to the door at the MEM FAA tower and rang the intercom. When someone answered, we told them we'd like to have a tour. In a couple of minutes a very nice guy opened the door for us and proceeded to give us the cook's tour of the TRACON and tower. We were in there for well over an hour, and the guy had no problem whatsoever with me taking pictures. It was a great experience.

I'm assuming this is no longer possible post 9/11 - am I correct? I'd love to be able to do the same type of tour at Hartford's Bradley Airport, but the tower facility is ringed by barb-wire fence and a rather serious-looking security fence. Anyone know the policy these days?

26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBigJimFX From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 321 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 4412 times:

Well it IS possible. Just very difficult. I'm not sure how to do it in Hartford, but i'm sure it would need to be arranged far ahead of time. The only advice I can give is to contact the local FSDO or Faa office. They should have more answers for you.

Good Luck!



I'd like to thank me for flying Me Airways...
User currently offlineQQflyboy From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 2296 posts, RR: 13
Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4367 times:

I would say impossible... here's why:

I tried to get a tour for a school project and first contacted the FSDO. They didn't think it would be too much of a problem, but the tower manager did. This was post 9/11. I am a pilot (PPL) and flight attendant. I've completed the FAA/DOT ten year background check and am actively employed by an airline (for the past ten years, seven at the time of the tour). None of that was good enough to satisfy any security clearance to get the tour. Despite the background checks, finger printing and holding a valid pilot's license and airline CREW ID, the tower manager, without actually doing it, laughed and I know he thought I was crazy.

I fully understand this could have just been the tower manager, but it was a less than warm reception and am skeptical I could get a tour anywhere else. Good luck! I was really looking forward to it.



The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect my employer’s views.
User currently offlineCadet57 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 9085 posts, RR: 30
Reply 3, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4363 times:

Quoting QQflyboy (Reply 2):
would say impossible... here's why:

IDK, I took a tour of the tower at BDL(post 9/11) via the museum becaues of a class I took there. I think it's possible, just depends on the airport I guess.



Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4350 times:

Quoting Cadet57 (Reply 3):
IDK, I took a tour of the tower at BDL(post 9/11) via the museum becaues of a class I took there. I think it's possible, just depends on the airport I guess.

I think you're probably right.

I would nearly kill for a tour of a tower, TRACON, and/or an airline's SOC (because I love the logistical element of aviation, and to me, these ar three of the main places where that comes together) -- when I lived in this area I would have done unspeakable things for a tour of the LAX tower, but I knew it would never happen.

Now that I'm in Cleveland, I would love to see CLE's tower, but the chances of that happening are slim to none-- I'd also be perfectly happy with seeing BKLs tower, which I think would possibly be more hospitable to guests (in addition to having what appears to be its own parking lot). I would guess that the GA/non-major commercial airports would be more welcoming of guests if for no other reason than a lower work load.

Lincoln



CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 4310 times:

Glad I took my tour of the ELP tower before 9/11! That was a cool tour, got to see the tower cap, ground positions, watch a controller issue an IFR clearance, and activate the same flight plan, and got to see the tracon room. My friends and I did give them 2 weeks advanced notice (and scheduled a time with the guy who answered the phone when we called). IMO, something every pilot should do-visit the tower (and not when one gets in trouble for busting a reg  Wink ).

When I was getting my IFR ticket at HIO, our ground school instructor tried several times to get our class (almost all rated pilots) into the HIO tower. I think she ran into the same problems, and we were never able to get the tour. Bummer. Always been curious about the "stubby" towers at small fields, and how they handle all the flight services, such as IFR clearances, handoffs from centers and the class C that they lie under, etc.



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineGoaliemn From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 463 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 4298 times:

If you have your pilots license, you can get a tour of TRACON. Its part of a program started by the FAA so you can see how it all works behind the scenes. I don't remember the exact name of it. I'm trying to google, but no luck. You have to call ahead, schedule, give your name/address/DL/pilots license number and thats about it.

I've had afew tours of towers in the last couple of years, but both were at smaller airports where I had either just flew into, or fly in/out of regularly.

"*buzz* I'm ***. I just landed in N9999x and would love a little tour of your tower"

Most of the time, unless they are busy or overly paranoid, they'll let you up.


User currently offlineLGAtoIND From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 490 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 4274 times:

It is possible, just not easy. Last summer i took a tour of JFK tower. A friend of mine new someone who works there, so that was how it was arranged. I was there for several hours hanging out with the controllers. It was awesome.

User currently offlineBahadir From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 1824 posts, RR: 10
Reply 8, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 4256 times:

Like many things with FAA and TSA there is not a single policy about this:

- SEA Center doesn't allow anybody but US citizens.. Even Green Card holders like yours truely are not allowed. Their logic is it's a Federal Building, but I am able to get into the FSDO with an appointment.

As a perm. resident I can :
i. own aircrafts
ii. operate a flight school
iii. visit contract towers

but cannot go into Seattle Center ..

- Potomac Center on the other hand wants Drivers license information. They do background checks.. which is fine and dandy.. They do not discriminate according to the citizenship status.

- Local Renton Tower where we operate from, is a contract tower. The facility is owned by FAA but operated by a contractor company. The only two requrements we have are : a. we have to be pilots, b. there should be more than one controller at the tower..



Earthbound misfit I
User currently offlineHoosierCFI From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4166 times:

I toured MCO's facility back in 2000 using a program called Adopt a Pilot. I made the reservation for this program through the local FSDO. I basically followed around a controller for half of a shift. I got to sit with him on a sector, final approach, tower, and ground. Not sure if this program is still in use. But if it is, then anyone with a Private Pilot license should be able to do this. I probably should mention US citizenship being post 9/11

User currently offlineUnited_fan From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 7522 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4117 times:

I was lucky enough to tour MIA's old tower during AI2001. Also got to go thru MIA center. Very cool . Also got to go thru Houston Center during AI2002. No tower ,though.
Lastly,I went thru MHV's tower in Dec 03,but that's not a commercial airport.



'Empathy was yesterday...Today, you're wasting my Mother-F'ing time' - Heat.
User currently offlineATCT From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2328 posts, RR: 38
Reply 11, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4105 times:

You can do it.

Call your local tower Air Traffic Manager and ask how about to do it. It requires background checks run through the region HQ.

You could also call your local contract tower, they usually will let pilots up for a tour.

Hope this helps.


ATCT



"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney
User currently offlineJoness0154 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 667 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4078 times:

I worked at DuPage Airport in West Chicago over the summer, and us maintenance guys were on a first name basis with the controllers there. We'd do maintenance in the tower all the time, didn't need an appt  Smile

Anyways, just call the tower a few weeks in advance and it should be no problem whatsoever.



I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem
User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9699 posts, RR: 52
Reply 13, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4077 times:

I toured BFI's (Boeing Field in Seattle) tower last summer when I was during ground school for my PPL. It has to be arranged ahead of time, and we needed to confirm that we were US citizens. Other than that, there was no issue and we were up there for an hour observing the controllers and the traffic. There were some really friendly guys up there. It made it less intimidating to talk on the radio with them.


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offline1011 From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 315 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4029 times:

"If you have your pilots license, you can get a tour of TRACON. Its part of a program started by the FAA so you can see how it all works behind the scenes. I don't remember the exact name of it. I'm trying to google, but no luck. You have to call ahead, schedule, give your name/address/DL/pilots license number and thats about it."

I believe the old term was operation raincheck. I was told by multiple ATC people that as the threat level changes the tours change. Higher threats equal no tours. It all depends on regions too and who you talk. But call ahead. What sucks even more is I have to make a appointment just to visit the FSDO and show id even though I know them.


User currently offlineAPFPilot1985 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4023 times:

I've toured APF's tower (contract tower smaller facility and good relationships between my flight school and the controllers)

RSW's tower/Tracon (Friend of the family is a controller, arranged in through NATCA)

BUF's tower/Tracon/NWS/FSS (Arranged by friend of the family who works in IT at the facility)

All really nice controllers and neat to see.

I've really wanted to tour a center though.


User currently offlineType-Rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3989 times:

I met the FAA regional director at HOU one day and asked him about a tour of IAH tower and he said to give him a call the next week, he'd arrange it. When I called him he requested that I have all my pilots license and my passport as valid ID.
When I showed up, the guard at the desk checked out my credentials while I waited for the tower manager to come get me. I got a complete VIP tour. This was just last year.
Very impressive to say the least. I particularly liked how seemless the radar coverage switches from airborne radar to ground radar. From the tower you can really see how far apart the north runway is from the south runway. 5 miles apart!


User currently offlineBoeingfanyyz From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 991 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3989 times:

This does not relate to the FAA system, but in Canada the regulations are quite lax. I was just up in YYZ tower the other day for about an hour.

Pretty interesting watching all activity from 22 stories about the earth!

Cheers,
Boeingfanyyz  airplane 



"If it aint boeing, it aint going!", "Friends are like condoms...they protect you when things get hard!"
User currently offlineCschleic From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1284 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3970 times:

San Carlos airport south of SFO still does this (or did as of January last year when I was last there). It's a general aviation field but rather busy on a weekend. We just called on the intercom at the base of the tower, showed our ID to the guy who opened the door, and up we went. They were happy to show us what did what. Not as technically advanced as you'd expect.

User currently offlineBahadir From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 1824 posts, RR: 10
Reply 19, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3955 times:

Quoting Type-Rated (Reply 16):
I met the FAA regional director at HOU one day and asked him about a tour of IAH tower and he said to give him a call the next week, he'd arrange it. When I called him he requested that I have all my pilots license and my passport as valid ID.

Did they request the passport explicitly or was that the ID you had on you?
I am currently trying to create cases of non-citizens being admitted in some of the TRACONs in the US to my AOPA contact.

Thanks...



Earthbound misfit I
User currently offlineType-Rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 3904 times:

I believe it was phrased something like "And you must have proof of being a natural born US Citizen, such as a birth certificate or passport". They also asked if I was born in the United States on the phone while making the arrangements for the visit. I brought my passport because it was the easiest thing to bring and it does list your place of birth. And they didn't just glance at it either, they read all the pages with the country stamps too.

User currently offlineGoaliemn From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 463 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 3847 times:

Quoting 1011 (Reply 14):
I believe the old term was operation raincheck.

Thats it. You can still get tours using it, but yes, like you also said, it does require an appointment. They have the option of delaying your tour, but from my understanding, they can't say "no, never." If there's a security concern/issue, they can keep pushing it out.

Quoting 1011 (Reply 14):
But call ahead.


User currently offlineBahadir From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 1824 posts, RR: 10
Reply 22, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 3787 times:

Quoting Type-Rated (Reply 20):
I believe it was phrased something like "And you must have proof of being a natural born US Citizen, such as a birth certificate or passport".

you are kidding right? I mean , if someone is naturalized, they are not allowing this? Can you give me more information about that? Like the supervisor or the name of the person who requested this kind of information from you. AOPA will have a field day with this..



Earthbound misfit I
User currently offlineCBPhoto From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1568 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3739 times:

It actually is pretty easy to get a tour of a tower. First off, as others have said, it really helps if you know someone from the tower. Also, as far as I know, you must be a valid US citizen. Also, sometimes all it takes is a phone call to the facility where you would like to tour. Tell them who you are, what connection you have in the aviation world (i.e. pilot, thinking about ATC as a profession, or any other means in the aviation world) and also tell them why you are interested in visiting the facility. Many air traffic controllers are keen on letting pilots, and others know all about their profession. Keep in mind though, some of the busy towers like ORD, LAX, or even JFK might not allow you due to shortage of staff, or security reasons. If you cannot get a tour with a main facility, then try going to one of the smaller, outlying towers. Believe it or not, the ATC world is just as small as the pilots world. If you go to a small outlying tower, and you show a lot of interest, and ask lots of interesting questions, you can always ask them if they know someone who might be able to get you a tour in the main facility. Odds are, they will be more then happy to try and get you a tour. Just some pointers,
Good Luck



ETOPS: Engines Turning or Passengers Swimming
User currently offlineAPFPilot1985 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3734 times:

Quoting Bahadir (Reply 22):
you are kidding right? I mean , if someone is naturalized, they are not allowing this? Can you give me more information about that? Like the supervisor or the name of the person who requested this kind of information from you. AOPA will have a field day with this..

I hope not I really don't want my AOPA membership fee going towards something small like that.


25 Post contains images Bahadir : Small? Yeah, in that case let's forget about the Washington ADIZ thing.. There are many non citizen pilots in this country.. It may not affect you, b
26 MidnightMike : All you have to do is show a US Passport, of course, each Tower can make their own rules. It is easier to deal with the Towers at the smaller airport
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