How to Switch from Approach to Tower Control

VHF Radio
“Chestnut 372 Victor Charlie, you’re six miles north of the airport. Contact Propinquity Tower on 119.6.” That is how the switch from Approach Control to Tower Control should sound. Does it always happen that way? We’ll rip it apart in this week’s show and see what the pieces tell us.

Last time in our story, I asked you some important questions about how you would use the Aircraft Radio Simulator. Yeah, I’m talking about the software I’ve had in development since the Late Pleistocene Epoch. I’ve got your answers from the survey on this subject. The results are going to surprise you.

Got a good question for you about how the ILS hold short line affects pilots flying VFR. That’s right, sometimes IFR approaches affect VFR.

All that, plus listener emails and that twice-a-month brain cramp, Your Question of the Week. I’d tell you more but time is a-wasting and we’ve got a huge show to navigate. Roll the mp3 player!

Show Notes:

  1. A listener writes: “I am 10 miles out [from the airport], usually where I am making my call to Tower to notify them that I am inbound for landing, but I am still stuck on ATC [approach control] for flight following. . . Had I not terminated Flight Following, would Longview Approach have sequenced me in, and had me contact the Tower, say 5 or so miles out?”
  2. Approach Control or ARTCC will always switch you to tower control before you enter Tower’s airspace. This applies whether you are flying VFR or IFR.
  3. You normally maintain your discrete transponder code when switching from Approach to Tower because most towers have their own radar display in the tower cab.
  4. Your discrete transponder code allows the tower control to view vital information about your aircraft on the tower’s radar display.
  5. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you believe the controller has forgotten or overlooked your flight, do speak up. You and the controller are both working for a safe flight. Help each other out.
  6. The results of a survey regarding the Aircraft Radio Simulator are in, and no, I cannot offer the final version of the simulator for free. I explain why in this segment of the show.
  7. You only need to hold short of the ILS hold short line when tower tells you to do so. There are very specific criteria Tower uses to activate the ILS hold short line. If Tower does not tell you to hold short of it, taxi like it isn’t there.
  8. The question about the ILS hold short line comes from my Twitter feed. You may follow me at for more tips and techniques when talking with ATC. Use the Twitter icon in the upper right corner of this website or use this link.
  9. Do you have experience with any of the following flight schools: ATP, Aerosim, Wayman, Dean, ADF? If so, get in touch with me at There is a listener in Venezuela who is interested in attending one of these schools and he needs more information.

Your Question of the Week:

You are departing VFR from a Class Charlie airport. Before you taxied out to the active runway, the clearance delivery controller in the airport tower gave you a discrete transponder code to squawk and a frequency to contact departure control.

You have lifted off of the runway and you are climbing away from the airport. The last thing the tower controller said to you was: “Cleared for takeoff.” You are now 7 miles from the airport, well beyond the boundary of the tower’s airspace, and you have not heard anything further from the tower controller. What, if anything, should you say on the radio?

When you think you know the answer to that question, go to the link There you will find a complete answer along with a full explanation of how that answer was derived.


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