I get asked this a lot. It is a regional airport with jets and cargo planes and can seem pretty intimidating. A friend who is thinking of taking up flying asked me and from my lofty 60 hours of experience and I revisited some of my reasoning.
I deliberately picked KPVD to mix it with the big boys and controllers. I met someone who legally passed down in a quiet bit of Florida and the first time they flew into Class C they got out the plane on landing and turned in their license (I kid you not). They couldn’t believe what they had flown into. But the main reason was this is a mixture of a bucket list item and I need a brain stretch/personal development. I want a challenge.
Providence is also a Part 141 school – more structured syllabus and more FAA oversight. NOTHING wrong with Part 61 schools – you have to get past the same FAA examiner when the time comes – but the 141 internal discipline, class rooms, their maintenance and spare planes means serviceability is high and there is an air of professionalism. Part 61 schools can also be professional.
Since I’ve got into it – I’ve also discovered that the local Part 61 school’s limited taxiways means you can spend a lot of time taxiing back down the runway you landed on. Expensive and breaks the rhythm of what you are trying to achieve. Providence and surrounding Quonset, North Central, and a slew of other airports to the West means you will always get somewhere that suits the weather after just 6 mins or so flying.
Controllers are just fine to deal with. I went to an FAAST briefing about Boston Class B one night. The point being made was it is a partnership in which both parties make the safety if you work together. And you just need to ask them to repeat because you didn’t get it and they are just great – slow down a little and really do try to help. You can visit the local Class C tower if you call and ask. The Sporty’s VFR Communications DVD is quite a good primer on procedure.
A good tip I got is to keep your top radio stack for air frequencies like Approach/Departure and Tower and bottom stack for ground frequencies like ATIS/UNICOM/CTAF/Ground and Departure. Helps you keep your world a bit better managed.
Initially it was all a bit confusing but now I don’t even think about it! The first time I visited a non-towered field with self announcing on the CTAF – I felt like a babbling idiot!