When Control Towers Close
Can you paramotor at an airport whose control tower is closed for
the day or night?
I've always understood that when a control tower closed, the airspace
reverted from D to E. That would keep the entire surface area off limits
to us without permission from the controlling agency, usually an air
route traffic control center.
Phil Russman of Lite Touch
pointed out some sites that contradicted that belief so I went digging.
According to the Airmen's Information Manual (AIM), it depends.
Although the default is E airspace at the surface, that's not always the
case and you find by consulting the Airport/Facility
directory. An excerpt is included at right and this can also be viewed
online from an
Here's the AIM paragraph from Section Two, 3-2-5: (as of July 9,
At those airports where the control tower
does not operate 24 hours a day, the operating hours of the tower
will be listed on the appropriate charts and in the A/FD. During the
hours the tower is not in operation, the Class E surface area rules
or a combination of Class E rules to 700 feet above ground level and
Class G rules to the surface will become applicable. Check the A/FD
So there may indeed be times when you can fly from airports whose
tower is closed without a radio. More importantly, you can fly areas around
where the D airspace otherwise puts great sites off limits.
It's good to know the law but, as always, exercise that knowledge carefully.
We fly at the pleasure of a sensitive publicópiss 'em off and we won't fly anymore.