Why Boeing Field?
Far and away, the most frequently heard reasons for avoiding flying at Boeing Field (KBFI) involves traffic: traffic on the floating bridges, traffic on the taxiways and runways, and even traffic in the pattern. Popular concensus seems to be that flying at Boeing Field is more expensive due to traffic. Whether or not this is true is debatable.
The fact of the matter is, though, that flying at Boeing Field is actually a Seattle-area pilot's best option, providing pilots of all skill levels plenty of relevent and compelling reasons to make Boeing Field their home base. In addition to its grand history - dating back 1928 - Boeing Field presents pilots with a wide variety of opportunities: flying alongside a wide variety of aircraft, perfecting your radio skills, honing your ability to share adjacent runways (often in proximity with much larger and faster aircraft), and polishing your skills at identifying and maintaining airspace.
Fly where history was made
There are two kinds of people in the world: those that love history, and eveyone else. For the former, Boeing Field offers a unique opportunity to depart the same runways from which 6,981 B-17s left Boeing Field during World War II - sometimes at a rate of 16 per day. Although the historic aspect of Boeing Field may not hold the same allure for eveyone, those who hold even a passing interest in military aviation are sure to enjoy this benefit.
Not your typical General Aviation airport
Many people are happy to fly in skies filled with high-winged Cessnas, the pet hamster of the aviation world. For others, variety is the spice of life; an airport bustling with a mixture of basic trainers, military jets, classic warbirds, private jets, and even commercial airliners sounds exciting. During any given flight, pilots may expect to encounter
Bob Dempster and his
Douglas World Cruiser,
Clay Lacy in his
DC-2, or Joe Clark in his
Learjet 24. If warbirds are more to your tastes, you might get lucky enough to share the traffic pattern with the
Collings Foundation's B-17, or one of the many
F-18s that pass through Boeing on their way to Whidbey Island or Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. Cracker Jack timing may also allow you to share the field with the
Blue Angels during Sea Fair. In addition to these BFI "regulars", the field often hosts a wide variety of classic, high performance, and military aircraft - not to mention a healthy level of celebrities, professional sports teams, and people of historic significance. If you're looking for an exciting port with a variety of activity, Boeing Field is definitely the place to fly.
Training in the Puget Sound's busy airspace has its benefits
When you consider that Boeing Field lies below Sea-Tac's Class B airspace, it becomes obvious that high traffic density imposes definite demands on pilots of all skill levels. Although it's true that some of these demands may slow initial progress, the overall result is absolutely beneficial.
Students learning in busy airspace are required to master radio communication skills early in their training - a discipline that might be deferred when training is undertaken in quieter areas. Since mastery of these skills are essential for all pilots, learning them early has no overall slowing effect on student progress.
The primary benefit of training in busy airspace is that you will learn all the necessary skills under the supervision of an experienced instructor, giving you the chance to make them second nature by the time you complete your training. By contrast, students who train in areas of light air traffic often find they are uncomfortable at the prospect of flying into busy airspace and either avoid it altogether or go through a lengthy self-instruction program to become competent.
As you progress to Instrument training, the airspace surrounding Seattle will continue to work to your benefit: its fast pace and the great variety of training situations consistently help to produce instrument graduates ready for anything the Air Traffic Control system can throw their way.
Training at a busy airport like Boeing Field has its benefits, too
A concern that naturally arises in the choice of training airports is the possibility of time spent waiting for others to move out of the way.
While there can be no question that the takeoff lines are sometimes longer at Boeing than at outlying fields, you'll be surprised at the overall efficiency with which the controllers move traffic here. With two runways in use, and one runway especially suitable for for light aircraft, the overall airport design works well to reduce conflicts between large and small aircraft operating together.
Over the years, instructors have learned how best to make the airport fit the needs of their students. To illustrate their success, it will be useful to note that students fly well over 1,000 hours each month and that students based out of Boeing Field match or exceed the totals of every other Seattle area flight school.