Airport Altitudes

So far I have only flown the Cessna, but have flown into and out of various airports trying to get to grips with landing.

The only time I have had a problem is at places like Sedona, where the airport is say at 5500 feet (Sedona is a bad example as I know it’s at 5500 feet) so I need to join the traffic pattern at 6500 in my Cessna. But is there a way of knowing the altitude of the airport that I am flying into, I assume if its a planned route it would be in the flight log? How about en route to an airport where you make an unplanned stop, how would you then know the runway altitude?

Or is it fair to assume that if ATC tell me to tune altimeter to 29.92, or any other number, the runway will then be at zero?

Thanks and apologies if its a dumb question.

1 Like


Lookup Airport | SkyVector

1 Like

There are no dumb questions!

Try it once with the freeware “littlenavmap” there you will find everything.
Of course there are also charts for every airport - but they usually cost money.

Thanks for your help, so if I lookup EGKK on a VFR map it says 203-3322 - what do those numbers mean?

I am assuming the first one is the altitude in feet, so for Gatwick, if my altimeter is set to pressure 29.92, I would need to fly at 1200 feet for the landing pattern? :slight_smile:

When do I change pressure form STD to QNH? - Pilot Talk - VATSIM Community

1 Like

I’m not sure which cessna your flying, but the 172steam model has a gps in which you can just enter the airport code and it will then display all the airport information you need.

1 Like

Just the very basic 152 currently, so I don’t think it has the GPS. I suppose I am asking if there is a way of knowing without GPS.

Which I get I can look the airport up, just wondering how I interpret that on a plane like the cessna in terms of altitude to fly the traffic pattern at.

Sorry I meant if the ATC tell me to set altimeter to 29.92, is it fair to assume the runway is at sea level?

If your flying the 152 then you need a map, little nav map for example, or use skyvetor on you phone to check the airport altitude, the altimeter setting will not tell you the airfields altitude, so you may have a setting of 29.92 but the airfield could be a 750ft or 1500ft.

Ah ok that makes sense I guess.

I wasn’t sure whether the air pressure at arrival airport would take into account its altitude I.e. somewhere likely Sedona wouldn’t be 29.92 because its at 5500 feet. Although I am not sure you can even set the altimeter in the 152 like that?

You must be able to set the altimeter in all aircraft, usually ATC, ATIS or the arrival airfield will inform you of the baro pressure, so yes you can set the altimeter in the 152, you can zoom into the altimeter gauge and turn the knob to adjust the setting, bit fiddly, or just press the “b” key to set it to the current value.


But doing that will just mean the airport is at the altitude on my altimeter, that it says on the map i.e Gatwick is at 200 feet, and this is what my altimeter will read when I land? So I need the map? :slight_smile:

You are right but only if you are on the ground, if you are flying to another airport you still need to know what altitude that other airport is at. I use Little Nav Map to plan my flights so it gives me all that information.
Also you still need to set the barometric pressure reading on you altimeter as you fly so your altimeter gives you your correct altitude, if the airport your flying to is at 1500ft and you didnt reset your altimeter to the correct barometric pressure and your flying in low cloud your altimeter could say your at 1600ft when really your at 1400ft and you hit the ground.

203ft is the elevation
3322m the runway length.

1 Like

Altimeter is set to the QNH (either in hPa or inHg) which ATC or ATIS gives you. In doing so your Altimeter shows the altitude of the airport when landing.

Details see here

1 Like

Why aren’t these two numbers specified using the same units (i.e., feet OR meters)?

They are specified by the respective authorities. Plus the legend on a real VFR map also shows you this. It is just common in many countries to use altitude in ft and runway length and rwy visual range in m. (But it depends on the country eg China reports altitude in m).

Pilots learn this so they can read these maps. That is how I knew ;-).