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Old December 9th, 2010, 09:40 PM   #1
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Flight (non) Service Stations...

...or Forgot Staffing Specialists
...or Frequency Stays Silent
...or F-ing Sucky Service

So I'm heading home from Peroia, and I get to about 12 west of the Peotone VOR, the weather forecast was botched as usual for the midwest, and I called up Kankakee Radio on 122.2 and then 122.05 (or whatever the other frequency is) while listening on the VOR, for about 10-12 minutes while I circled waiting for them to respond so I could air file an IFR plan

Finally I said screw it and called up Chicago Center and got a clearance to get through about 15-20 miles of scuz. While in the scuz I got ice...nope, not on the wings...engine started losing power, and I started checking the mixture, the throttle, and finally yanked on the carb heat...ah, there we go. Broke out of the scuz on the other side and everything was fine.

So are FSS not monitoring frequencies anymore?
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Last edited by EdFred; December 9th, 2010 at 09:42 PM.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 10:04 PM
Posted in reply to EdFred's post "Flight (non) Service Stations..."
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

They're well.........erratic. I just go to flight watch.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 10:31 PM   #3
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbchien View Post
They're well.........erratic. I just go to flight watch.
Same. I go to flightwatch no matter where I'm at. I get the same information and I'm not fumbling through a bunch of frequencies.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 10:33 PM
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Can you file a flight plan with flight watch?
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Old December 10th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

It depends on where you are. I've actually gotten good response from [whoever] radio provided I'm in the right area, and have air-filed flight plans that way. But I try to do it on the frequencies where two-way communication is on one frequency.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:11 AM   #6
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucky View Post
Can you file a flight plan with flight watch?
Last time I tried I couldn't. Flight Watch told me to contact FSS on a local frequency since EFAS apparently does not file flight plans.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:38 AM   #7
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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Originally Posted by bbchien View Post
They're well.........erratic. I just go to flight watch.
Ditto.

It seems about 30% of time you will not get an answer from FSS while airborne. FW is almost 100%
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:51 AM   #8
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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Originally Posted by ScottM View Post
Ditto.

It seems about 30% of time you will not get an answer from FSS while airborne. FW is almost 100%
That's fine, but I could see the weather...

Quote:
Originally Posted by HPNPilot1200 View Post
Last time I tried I couldn't. Flight Watch told me to contact FSS on a local frequency since EFAS apparently does not file flight plans.
...so it really wouldn't have helped me out.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 12:20 PM   #9
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

The last time I tried to get FSS on the radio around here I thought my radio was broken. No response whatsoever. But I knew the radio worked, I had spoken with OLM tower and after giving up on FSS had no trouble with SEA approach to get flight following. So much for opening my flight plan.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 07:33 PM
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I can always get FSS on the radio?

Oh, wait...


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Old December 10th, 2010, 08:10 PM   #11
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucky View Post
Can you file a flight plan with flight watch?
Don't know, but I just file them with ATC directly in the air. But I guess we have outstanding ATC in this area; maybe this wouldn't be so easy in other parts of the country.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:04 PM   #12
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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Originally Posted by sba55 View Post
Don't know, but I just file them with ATC directly in the air. But I guess we have outstanding ATC in this area; maybe this wouldn't be so easy in other parts of the country.
In the past, I've had ATC tell me to contact FSS and file it.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:59 PM   #13
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by HPNPilot1200 View Post
Last time I tried I couldn't. Flight Watch told me to contact FSS on a local frequency since EFAS apparently does not file flight plans.
On my Long XC LAS-AUG-LAS, Flight Watch told me, it was not their job to open or close flight plans.. let alone accept and over the air filing.

And I had about 4 airports on the whole trip where FSS could not be reached on any of the local frequencies.. so ground filing did not help to activate a VFR flight plan after departure.

Now.. if when we file we could just get an authentication code and activate VFR flight plans via text message with the code.

Same for closing the flight plan at the other end. But at least I was on the ground and could use my cell phone or the FBO phone to call and cancel VFR.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 10:00 PM   #14
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdFred View Post
In the past, I've had ATC tell me to contact FSS and file it.
Depending on location, traffic activity (controller busy), and length of the fllight plan. ATC does not have to accept an air file. They can and will direct you to FSS.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 10:21 PM   #15
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillTIZ View Post
And I had about 4 airports on the whole trip where FSS could not be reached on any of the local frequencies.. so ground filing did not help to activate a VFR flight plan after departure.

Now.. if when we file we could just get an authentication code and activate VFR flight plans via text message with the code.

Same for closing the flight plan at the other end. But at least I was on the ground and could use my cell phone or the FBO phone to call and cancel VFR.
You can activate a VFR flight plan using a cell phone. Just do it before engine start or before wheels up, and give them the time you expect to be airborne as the effective time. That's pretty much the only way to do it from VLL now since the Detroit RCO is OTS. I once had a briefer tell me he couldn't give me an assumed departure time in the future, but that was one briefer, and it was a long time ago.
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Old December 11th, 2010, 12:49 AM   #16
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

I can get FSS about 3/4 of the time. They're a bit slow. It sometimes feels like I'm calling a grandpa. It takes him a while to put on his slippers and walk to his old fashion 2 way radio or he's passed out watching the weather channel and you don't get a response anyways. It'd be a lot easier if Tower or departure could open them. (I'm referring to teaching students VFR flight plans)
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Old December 13th, 2010, 10:03 PM   #17
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by azure View Post
You can activate a VFR flight plan using a cell phone. Just do it before engine start or before wheels up, and give them the time you expect to be airborne as the effective time. That's pretty much the only way to do it from VLL now since the Detroit RCO is OTS. I once had a briefer tell me he couldn't give me an assumed departure time in the future, but that was one briefer, and it was a long time ago.
Thats' true.. a "pre dated" departure time to activate the VFR flight plan would have someone come looking for me in the smoking hole at the end of the runway after the expiration of a 3.5hr duration flight.

Better than not looking for me at all because I did not get a chance to make a radio call after departure before the crap hit the fan, or the fan quit.

I even had to ask ARTCC to extend my VFR ETA with FSS so they would not look for me. Headwinds were stronger than expected and I would be more than 30 min late. ARTCC said "we don't normally do this".. but I told them that FSS nor Flight Watch would answer up on any of the frequencies, and if I did not contact them to extend the ETA. FSS would be starting a communications search real soon.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 10:23 PM   #18
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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Originally Posted by sba55 View Post
Don't know, but I just file them with ATC directly in the air. But I guess we have outstanding ATC in this area; maybe this wouldn't be so easy in other parts of the country.
I have had trouble reaching some FSS as well, but I would only file with ATC as a last resort. Unless its a really dead day in the air, it kind of wastes valuable frequency time. I was taught this is not really recommended unless its an emergency due to potential frequency congestion issues.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 10:33 PM
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Well, my filing consisted of "12 West of Peotone, 3000. I'd like 3000, Peotone, Keeler, and I'm slant Golf, 7DS"
He asked final destination, and gave me direct Knox, direct Hastings. It took no more airtime than asking for and receiving a vector/avoidance for weather.

They didn't ask for, and I didn't offer the 14 other pieces of information.
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Last edited by EdFred; December 13th, 2010 at 10:36 PM.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 10:55 PM   #20
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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I have had trouble reaching some FSS as well, but I would only file with ATC as a last resort. Unless its a really dead day in the air, it kind of wastes valuable frequency time. I was taught this is not really recommended unless its an emergency due to potential frequency congestion issues.
Well, to each his own. Saying one should only file with ATC in an emergency (what kind of emergency would require me to file?) is probably a bit over the top. I agree that you obviously should only do it when traffic on frequency is reasonably light.

But like Ed said, it's often not even necessary to file much. A simple "request IFR present position direct KABC, FL210, type AB123" often works.


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Old December 13th, 2010, 10:57 PM   #21
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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Well, to each his own. Saying one should only file with ATC in an emergency (what kind of emergency would require me to file?) is probably a bit over the top. I agree that you obviously should only do it when traffic on frequency is reasonably light.

But like Ed said, it's often not even necessary to file much. A simple "request IFR present position direct KABC, FL210, type AB123" often works.


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I hope you aren't already at FL210 when you request that.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 11:56 PM   #22
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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I hope you aren't already at FL210 when you request that.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 08:41 AM   #23
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

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I hope you aren't already at FL210 when you request that.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 08:43 AM
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

Well maybe he got one of them VFR really on top clearances :-)
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Old December 14th, 2010, 11:32 AM
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Re: Flight (non) Service Stations...

I have seen some flightwatch freqs that dont operate at night, so watch out for that.
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