Is it common that small local airports don't have radars?
I live in Port Angeles, WA. There is an airport and I don't see any air traffic towers or radars? Isn't it too dangerous? I wonder if the planes can collide. If they don't have a tower, who control the traffic? Do pilots just communicate to each other?
Re: Is it common that small local airports don't have...
It is very common for small airports not to have a control tower, radar, or communications equipment. There are very well developed procedures for "uncontrolled airports". There is a standard traffic pattern that aircraft fly at almost all airports (consisting of a downwind, base, final, and upwind leg) and there are specific radio calls that are supposed to be made at certain points in the pattern. Most airports have a fixed base operator to supply fuel and services. They often monitor the common traffic frequency and supply some info to pilots about wind direction and runway in use. There's also a specific way to enter the pattern - usually at a 45 degree of the downwind leg, Yes it's possible for aircraft to collide and it happens several times a year - usually when a low wing airplane is above a high wing airplane in the pattern. Neither can see the other so occasionally that can happen.
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It's quite permissible to do so, however a general aviation pilot in a low performance plane should be ready for fast instructions and quite a bit of maneuvering to stay out of the way. The best time to do it would be at night. Here's a youtube video of one doing it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKvWn317tpU
Technically is you are flying domestic you are not flying over foreign airspace. If flying IFR you must file one. Needless to say when filing a flight plan you must decalre if you are domestic of international flight.
The AIM is not regulatory so there is not really any absolute rules to go by. The AIM does give procedures which should be followed but some pilots do not. In many cases they make it harder for the rest of us who do follow the AIM procedures. I was watching a YouTube video yesterday where a group of "supposedly" accomplished pilots flew a C172 from DAB to CDK. These hotshots proceeded to fly a 10 mile straight in to Cedar Key, not even apparently looking for NORDO traffic, thus ruining the trip as far as I was concerned.
As long as the plane is equipped for icing, which all airlines are, there is not really any added danger to flying in snow. Braking on landing may be affected if there's any accumulation but they keep close track on braking ability as each plane lands at the airport. Snow won't affect the way the plane flies as long as the wings are clear of snow on takeoff.
Using the old (pre GPS) method you would use the sectional and plotter (aviation ruler) and measure the distance. Using a GPS you can usually turn on distance rings on the screen or if you have the airport selected as destination you can read it right off the screen. If it's your home base you should learn the landmarks and their distances from the airport. In the Miami area, there are so many airports and landmarks, if you're flying there, during your preflight preps you should measure out distances to some landmarks that you plan to pass over and mark them on the chart or flight log.
Go to your local airport and talk with an instructor. That doesn't cost anything and they'll be happy to answer any of your questions. You can go for a sport pilot license first because it's the quickest cheapest way to get in the air. Then if you "catch the flying bug" you can progress to a private pilot certificate.