1. Know the Notam! Know the Frequencies, the route, the altitudes and the procedures for after you land. Sun 'n Fun opens this week, and if you're flying in, you'd better expect not to be alone in the pattern. The Sun 'n Fun arrival notam is up and ready to print out, so don't launch without it. The FAA and Sun 'n Fun have done a great job with it, and this year's Notam is the best yet, with great pictures and much clearer descriptions of the procedure than ever before. Still, the arrival isn't the easiest thing to follow, largely because of the unremarkable nature of Central Florida geography. So print it out and study up. Don't try to figure it out on the fly, because once you're out of the arrival flow, it can be hard to work your way back in.
2. Know when to talk and when not to talk. With dozens of airplanes arriving at the same time, key the mic only if you really, really need to (for immediate safety concerns, it goes without saying) and only if you think the controller needs to hear what you're saying. What if you've been number three in line waiting for take off instructions for a while? Good for you. It's better than being number 20 in line. Just wait a little longer in polite silence.
3. Follow the guy ahead of you, but not if he's lost. It's the route that matters, not the wandering soul in front of you. But keep an eye on him in case he wanders back in your direction.
4. Make a good sign for your parking intentions beforehand, not as you're taxiing in. I've seen some really pathetic signs. Make it easy on the ground controllers. Use heavy black marker and use a full sheet of white paper. Better yet, print it out on your home computer.
5. Bring Good Tie Downs: Thunderstorms can come up at any time in Florida. Make sure your airplane is properly tied down. If you're parking at an FBO, bring ratcheting tie downs. They work like a charm. If you're in the grass, beware. The sandy Lakeland soil is notoriously soft, so go deep and branch out if you can.
6. Thank the controllers. They're volunteers and they do a fantastic job. They deserve all of our thanks.
Click here to download the official Sun 'n Fun arrival Notam