Flying Between Towers

I was on a progress check flight early in my commercial training and the Chief Flight Instructor decided to play a trick on me. I learned an important lesson from this flight.

We got the plane started at Chandler (KCHD) and he asked me to fly him to Gateway (KIWA). I noticed the 2 class D airspace areas are squished together with no space in between! Several options went through my mind. Do I fly South to leave Chandler’s airspace and then reenter Gateway airspace after making contact? Do I try to switch frequencies in that small space before I get there? Do I just wait for the Chandler controller to hand me off or at least give me a frequency change?
This last option is wrong, but it is the one I chose!

As we flew closer to Williams airspace I waited patiently, but Chandler never offered a frequency change. The instructor just sat there, watching. As soon as I crossed the line I knew I was free from the requirement to maintain communications with Chandler, so I switched frequencies and called Williams. The controller at Williams noted that I was already inside of their airspace. Yes, I had entered without first establishing two-way radio communications. The instructor spoke to the controller on the radio briefly and my troubles ended there. I suspect that they had some kind of pre-established understanding about this happening since the instructor was so cool about it!

This mistake taught me an important lesson. Take Action! Nobody else will do it for you. I couldn’t just wait for the Chandler controller. I had to be the one to initiate the frequency change.

To be clear, the correct way to handle this situation is to ask for a frequency change shortly after takeoff. If you don’t get a frequency change in time, then plan to make a turn and avoid violating airspace.