Can we talk about VFR flight following?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by RyanLikesFlying, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ok, I'll be the dummy and ask about VFR flight following. Its something that really wasn't covered much in my primary training and my Air Force training was all IFR flight planned and never was a factor.

    So, how do you get VFR flight following? I've read up on it online. I've watched numerous videos on YouTube about how to do it. I understand the verbiage they want to hear when you are actually asking for it.

    I went on a XC trip a couple days ago and took off. Called departure at a nearby Class B airport (KCLT). Heres how it went-

    Me: "Departure, NXXXX, with request."
    Departure: "VFR aircraft, contact approach on 118.3"
    Me: "118.3, good day"

    Me: "Approach, NXXXX, with request."
    Approach: "NXXXX, say request."
    Me: Deep breath, "Approach, NXXXX, 3,500, 10 miles north of XXX Regional Airport, Alpha, Bravo Charlie, request flight following to XXX Airport, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot."
    Approach: "NXXXX, contact Jacksonville Center, 111.1" (dont remember the actual freq)
    Me: "111.1, good day"

    Me to myself: "screw it, I'm VFR and its clear and a million"

    Who do YOU call when requesting VFR flight following? All the research and videos I've watched make me think I was doing it correctly but obviously it wasn't working then. I never did it during my training. Hopefully I'm not the only one wondering this. I can see alot of benefits to flight following but it cant be cosmic!

    Thanks!
     
  2. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Can be as easy as,informing tower before take off that you are requesting flight following they will give you a squack code. If non towered, call the ATC facility and they will work you ,if they’re not to busy
     
  3. rocketflyer84

    rocketflyer84 Line Up and Wait

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    1) If departing from a controlled field, ask the tower. They can either set it up for you on the ground or will tell you who to call in the air.

    2) Failing that, pull up an approach chart in ForeFlight for a nearby airport and note the frequency for approach control. Try that frequency. They can either help you or they’ll tell you who to call.

    Who controls what bit of airspace can often change, literally depending on what way the wind blows—especially in busy airspace—so don’t get too frustrated with calling up the wrong freq. Worst case they just say no or give you another freq to call.
     
  4. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You did it right, ya just became discouraged. What was happening is you would be in another controller's airspace, that's why they were instructing you to contact other controllers. You also can call clearance and/or ground control while you're on the ramp and request flight following, and hopefully controller after controller would work you to your destination. It's also work load permitting for ATC, so sometimes they won't provide it.
     
  5. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ok, makes sense. Less going on at ground speed zero for the pilot as well.

    Are you saying you can receive flight following from any controller, be it Tower, Approach, Departure, etc? Looking for proper protocol.
     
  6. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    I'll say.....it depends. if you started out from JQF you can call ground (I think their CD is still 'inop') and coordinate it. they'll give u CLT dep freq to dial up on climbout. otherwise, check the frequencies for where you're flying out of. like this is JQF, so if you don't want to arrange it with them you can depart then switch to CLT departure and get it from them:

    upload_2017-11-21_21-31-44.png
     
  7. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That may have been the case. Charlotte approach/departure is busy. They may have been too busy to deal with my request.
     
  8. rocketflyer84

    rocketflyer84 Line Up and Wait

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    If you are on the ground, try the clearance delivery freq. If there isn’t one then ask ground. Generally wouldn’t ask Tower as there’s a lot going on there.

    In the air in theory any approach or center controller can set it up, although it’s a “workload permitting” service so if they’re busy or “busy” they might say no. In that case they may still say “call such and such in 30 miles and they might be able to help.”
     
  9. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The "with request" is spurious. They know you want something if you're a new callup (and you're not a handoff they know about). Other than that, your phraseology is good (except I don't spell out the identifiers unless I really don't think they know. The local airports/fixes they'll know about, some small airport 300 miles away might be confusing).

    What you do is try to find the most appropriate frequency. If the field you are departing from has an approach, it will be listed on the plates and in the Chart Supplement. Otherwise, if you're close to class B or C, use the frequency listed on the chart.

    Also you have to look at where you are going. We're on the fringe of CLT's airspace. If I look at SVH, I see they are handled by Atlanta Center, so if I'm departing to the north, I delay my call for a couple of miles until I'm in ZTL's airspace.
     
  10. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    CLT will only be too busy for you if you're stumblin fumblin on the radio. if you chop chop tell em what u want, they are extremely accommodating. I have never been turned down by CLT, they are great folks to work with.
     
  11. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, they are normally all over it and willing to help. Great folks out there. I wasn't fumbling, had it written out so that I could read it off just in case. I think they were just too busy and couldn't accommodate me and kept handing me off.
     
  12. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ok, so is there someone you would NOT call to request it?
     
  13. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Nope. Just about any facility and controller should be able to set up flight following for you, workload permitting.
     
  14. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Awesome. That makes it much easier. I'll try and contact the less busy controllers then and leave the Class B folks alone if I can help it :)
     
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  15. rocketflyer84

    rocketflyer84 Line Up and Wait

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    Guard freq :)

    Seriously though if you sound professional most controllers will be happy to help you out.

    Put yourself in their shoes... would you rather have targets on your radar tagged up and able to talk to them or a bunch of anonymous VFR targets buzzing around through your flow with no idea what the heck they’re doing or intending to do. We help them just as much as they help us by giving them a call. Every controller I’ve talked to says “we’d rather be talking to you than not.”
     
  16. wrbix

    wrbix Cleared for Takeoff

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    What you did is entirely appropriate for KCLT - shunting you to JAX Center was probably just their way of not doing an immediate handoff to them (but were you in ATL Center space? - I'd have to look at chart)
     
  17. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My thoughts, too. I want to know who's buzzing around me as well!
     
  18. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    At the D I fly out of ground usually gives me a squawk unless I tell them I'm staying in the pattern, I usually don't even have to ask, flight following ensues.
     
  19. rocketflyer84

    rocketflyer84 Line Up and Wait

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    Every Bravo seems to have its own personality. Some treat the airspace with a big velvet rope around it despite it really being not all that busy. Others that are truly crazy busy (like NY TRACON) have a reputation to being super helpful to VFR flights.

    First time I flew in the NY area I was on flight following and a bit intimidated by all the traffic and chatter. I was tracking around the outside of the Bravo and the controller asked what my intended route was. Took him I was just staying clear of the Bravo and he was like “no need for that, we’ll get you there a bit faster, maintain current altitude and proceed direct destination, cleared into the Bravo.” Took me just past La Guardia. Now I don’t think twice about this sort of thing, but that first time it was like “wow this is so cool... it’s like getting into that restrictive nightclub.” Also that first time you hear “Emirates 123 Super, traffic at your 2 o’clock and 3 miles, a Cherokee, will pass above you.” One has to smile.
     
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  20. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Don't call me, I'm retired now and don't do ATC no mo!

    Call @Timbeck2 instead, he's still working. :D
     
  21. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Bill, you make a great point that I hadn't considered. I was flying SE right outside the Mode C veil and was probably transitioning from ATL to JAX center. CLT may have been doing me a favor by handing me off to JAX rather than coordinating only to hand me off. Excellent point. I am so used to flying with a VFR sectional pulled up and Center's sectors aren't as obvious as they are on a IFR low chart.
     

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  22. wrbix

    wrbix Cleared for Takeoff

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    .....but don't sweat having called KCLT - entirely appropriate to have done so.
     
  23. somorris

    somorris Pattern Altitude

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    I think you did everything right. As someone else said, the freq you called up on was for another sector and they were trying to get you on the correct frequency while you were moving the whole time. It is actually pretty easy if you know whose airspace you are in when you first call up.
     
  24. Van Johnston

    Van Johnston Line Up and Wait

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    I thought you just got a cert saying you could still do Maxwell
     
  25. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Dang! You're right! Call me now! I'll give ya a squawk.
     
  26. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Back in the day, I was told the point of the “x miles from Y, VFR request” was to hint at them that they didn’t have to go looking though their flight strips (or modern digital equivalent) to see if your callsign was there, especially if they were busy. I don’t think it’s “spurious” (where are these spurs?).

    If they’re REALLY busy it helps them go to an immediate “unable VFR request” and you’re on your way with a yawn. Which is pretty rare.

    But it also let’s them handle ten other things and then return with “aircraft near Y with request, go ahead with your request”... sometimes a full three minutes later. You know it’s you (even though you’ve moved) because they have that tidbit tacked on, but didn’t bother typing the callsign in at first so they could handle the more important stuff and get back to you.

    But I’ve always done it as “VFR” or “VFR request”. VFR is shorter and basically accomplishes the same thing.

    But I tend to just listen for a while for a big enough break and do the full call up. It’s rare to hit them during a landline or other big radio pause that wasn’t actually dead time.

    AIM says just make the full call so I don’t worry about it too much. I also try not to take up lots of airtime keeping it short as possible and at a reasonably spoken pace.
     
  27. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No one has mentioned it so I will. If you want flight following and want it to be easy for the controller file an IFR flight plan using VFR for the altitude. On the legal side be IFR rated because supposedly the FFA can call filing the IFR flight plan as intent to fly IFR. I don’t put a lot of stock in the story but consider yourself warned.

    Anyway when you call for flight following just mention that there should be a strip.
     
  28. RyanLikesFlying

    RyanLikesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sorry, I'm not IFR rated so this isn't an option. A VFR flight plan could be filled but it is my understanding does not necessarily give me a flight following. It gives search and rescue my expected takeoff and landing times so when I forget to close it, they send CAP out to look for a smoking hole in the ground along my anticipated route of flight.

    Filling a VFR flight plan was also something breezed over in my primary training. We did it once, at my request, just so I would kinda have an idea how to do it. Its not cosmic either but requesting VFR flight following seems to be the way to go (as long as the controller work load allows for it).
     
  29. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, ATC will not see a VFR flight plan. Flight following is great and nearly always available around here except when too low over the hills. Of course IFR is a bit of a problem there too.
     
  30. ACG

    ACG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So, to clarify the process in the below scenario:
    I'm at my Class D and getting ready to depart. Call ground and make the VFR FF request (ground gives me code to enter at this time which I do). Once I get to runup I switch to tower. After taking off tower tells me when to switch to FF frequency?
     
  31. skier

    skier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I get it departing a controlled airport I call ground and request Flight following to XYZ. After takeoff, when you’re leaving their airspace tower (or departure) tells you to contact ABC on xxx.xx.

    Note sometimes they don’t hand you off and just tell you squak vfr, freq change approved and you need to make a new request with the next facility on your route.
     
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  32. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Please, don't do this if you're not instrument rated.
     
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  33. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some deltas will arrange flight following, some won’t. If you’ve got one guy working ground and tower I wouldn’t expect them to set it up.
     
  34. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Why not? It is an accepted practice.
     
  35. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ATC has no way of knowing you're on a VFR flight plan other than the FSS.
     
  36. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Eh I don't know about that Clark. It's just a matter of coordinating with the radar facility, I never had a problem doing it when I controlled.
     
  37. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So you're saying a VFR pilot can file an IFR flight plan? Accepted practice? I've never heard of anyone doing that, and I don't know where you got that it's an accepted practice. I would think an FAA inspector would disagree with you too.
     
  38. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The guys at my homedome won’t set up flight following. I’ve always been told to call approach when I asked. Of course I only asked a couple times and then “got the hint”.
     
  39. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ACG, check the local procedures at the towered airport you're at. Often CD (Clearance Delivery) will take your information and issue you departure instructions and a transponder code. Otherwise yes, request FF with GC.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
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  40. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Mark I specifically said the filing pilot should be Instrument rated. I get that it is accepted practice because it is done and there has been an opinion from the chief counsel published on it.

    Hell if the FFA didn’t want it done the VFR entry for altitude could be easily blocked.