Flying Without A Radio

Most flight schools are located on a class D or class C airport so, other than an actual failure, it would be unusual for you to practice entering airspace and landing without a radio. Most student pilots are extremely nervous about using their radio and have never given a second thought to what they would do if they didn’t have it.

So What Do you Do if Your Radio Stops Working?

First of all, RELAX. Many pilots fly every day without radios. But, since you don’t, you’ll most likely freak out a little bit, realize it’s not that big a deal, and then proceed with the following steps:

Squawk 7600

When you set your transponder to squawk 7600 you are letting everybody know you don’t have your normal radio communications capabilities. This will heighten the awareness of the controllers at the airspace you’re flying into. They’ll be able to tell exactly where you are and help guide you in using red, green and white lights.

Class D Airspace

Since you need to engage in radio communications before you can enter class C airspace and since you need an affirmative “clear to enter class B airspace” before entering there, odds are you’ll be flying to a class D airport. You may even consider flying to an uncontrolled airport, landing and using your telephone to call ahead to the controlled airspace to let them know you’ll be flying without normal radio communications. They may give you special instructions for approaching the airspace that they couldn’t normally do using the light gun.

Receiver Inoperative

If you believe that your transmitter is working but your receiver isn’t you’ll be able to communicate with the control tower but will have no way of getting information from them to you. In this event approach the class D area cautiously, remaining outside and/or above the airspace until you have determined the flow of traffic. At that point you would communicate to the tower your type of aircraft, position, altitude and your intention to land. Request that you be controlled in using the light gun. At this point keep your eyes outside the aircraft looking for other traffic and monitoring for light signals coming from the tower. Make sure you’re calling all of your pattern positions such as downwind, base and final.

Transmitter Inoperative

Again you’re going to want to remain outside of, or above, the class D airspace. Do this until you have determined the direction and flow of the traffic. Cautiously approach and enter the pattern. If it’s daytime you can respond to tower communications by rocking your wings in the affirmative. At night you can acknowledge receipt of their transmission by blinking your landing light. Keep looking for those light gun signals coming from the control tower.

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