The Truth About Flying at Potomac Airfield
There have been a lot of rumors about the difficulties encounter by people flying at one of the DC3 airports. Here's the truth:
Q:Are you guys open?
A: Absolutely. The DC3 as they have are known (Hyde, Potomac and College Park) have been open since 2/22/02. A.T.C. is not only open but because of our new programs we are almost up to the same total flying hours per week as we were prior to 9/11.
Q:I heard it's impossible to fly at A.T.C. . Is that True?
A: Absolutely not... unless you are a terrorist. If you are a terrorist it's still easy but you only get to fly once and in formation with a bunch of F-16's and Blackhawk helicopters before they shoot you down.
Q: What about the background check? I heard it takes forever and is expensive.
A: Incorrect. The background check is a painless process unless you have something to hide. You fill out some information on a secure web site and go to Washington National airport for fingerprinting. Once you start the process you will have to meet with someone from the Dulles Flight Standards District Office. From start to finish, it usually takes a couple of days. Once you submit some simple information on a secure website, you can begin flying with a "cleared pilot". All of our instructors are qualified to fly with you while you are awaiting your clearance. So, in truth, it will not interrupt your training or getting checked out in one of our aircraft.
Q: Fine but I heard there's this huge process you have to go through for each flight. What's that about?
A: Without going into specifics, for security reasons, there is a process but is not "huge". It is 2 phone calls. That's it. We have even set something up so that each of those calls is less than 30 seconds in length. It's really no big deal. As a matter of fact, it is easier to fly at one of the DC3 than at any other airports within the 30 mile Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)
Q. I heard Air Traffic Control was difficult to deal with in the DC airspace.
A. This is 100% false. The ATC staff in this area know our situation and will go out of their way to be helpful. As a matter of fact, an F-16 pilot who flies military flights into ADW on a regular basis said that when flying a Cessna into VKX he was treated almost the same as when he was flying his F-16 (Pretty cool huh?) When he flew from an outlying airport (between the 15 mile ring and the 30 mile ring) he said he was not treated so well. The ATC staff gets to know our pilots, sometimes by voice, and will work very hard to accommodate any legal requests.
Q. I am worried about getting a violation on my pilots record:
A. There have been very few of the pilots from the "DC3" who have gotten violated for airspace issues in the past 5 years. Most often the issue is a miscommunication and handled without any violations and is used to help refine any problems with the system. If you blatantly violate the rules you will get violated, as in any other airspace, but our CFI's will work with you for as long as you need to feel comfortable. Even then, if there is a procedural error during a flight, they can be straightened out with a phone call and a professional discussion which gets everyone back on the same page. Lastly, we are still here and operating just fine. If violations were a big issue, no flight school could continue to operate. We have a very good relationship with ATC and work very hard to keep it that way.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 301-248-1480 or email JD firstname.lastname@example.org You can also visit the Hyde Field website at http://www.hydefield.com
A.T.C. Flight Training Center, Inc.