Clearance on the ground or the in the air?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Skid, Dec 4, 2018 at 7:00 AM.

  1. Skid

    Skid Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Recently just got my IFR rating and looking to start taking as many flights as I can in the system to gain some experience. Have a flight planned this weekend and the weather looks to be decent VFR with possibly low clouds along the route.

    The airport I fly out of is uncontrolled, but has a clearance frequency. The last time I used it it took awhile for them to respond (2 or 3 calls) and they seemed to have an annoyed tone.

    On the other hand, the times I try to pick up the clearance airborne, it never seems to be at a good time, and you can always tell it's relatively rushed.

    Is one way more accepted over the other? I would prefer to just continue to get it on the ground with the dedicated frequency, as I can then sort out any route changes and take my time to get everything set up. However the airport can get busy with 3 or 4 people in the pattern so that creates complications with void times and people waiting to depart.

    Thanks
     
  2. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    If the weather is pretty good at departure I usually pick it up in the air. Otherwise I call 888-766-8267 and get it by phone.
     
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  3. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    On the ground always *if* easy. But if it’s VFR at departure, especially if you can’t easily get it at that airport, get it in the air. It’s situational. Be 100% sure you can remain VFR for at least 5 mins if you take off VFR...


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  4. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    How long did you wait between calls? Sometimes they are working more than one frequency, might account for the annoyed tone.
     
  5. Skid

    Skid Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Probably 30 seconds to a minute. I figured they were handling multiple frequencies so didn't mind, but when they did answer it was as if I was the first person to ever use it haha. "Wait who is this, what do you need?". That kind of thing.
     
  6. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Personally, I get it in the air if taking off into VFR conditions. I only get it on the ground if IFR or marginal conditions will be encountered soon after takeoff.

    Now days, things are greatly simplified by things like ForeFlight. First you use the ‘routes’ option to figure out how you might get cleared (if not direct). Then file and get your expected routing in return. On most routes, even those in dense NY airspace, I get cleared as filed whether getting in the air or on the ground. And of course ‘cleared as filed’ keeps things simple and you only need to get a squawk code.

    Keep filing and flying IFR plans on every flight you can. I file and fly IFR on 100% of my cross country flights and have been doing so for years. It’s just easier and safer.

    And don’t worry much about less than enthusiastic ATC folks. It’s a job and sometimes you just run into someone not having their best day. Sometimes I’m not having my best day.


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  7. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    I’ve given up on trying to use the remote clearance radio. They never seemed to work for me so I just gave up. If getting it in the air isn’t viable, I use the phone instead, the local number if available, the national number if not.


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  8. Jim Rosenow

    Jim Rosenow Line Up and Wait

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    Most everyone around here picks up their clearances via the RCO, on the ground. Pluses?....you're ready for amendments, pencil in hand, not bouncing around or distracted....there's no pressure or rush to connect with ATC....no 'crap, can't make contact and just went IMC' involved. Minuses?..... ??

    Of course, the ATC crew at CAK is great with GA, consistently.

    Jim
     
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  9. chemgeek

    chemgeek Line Up and Wait

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    If you can maintain VFR on initial departure, you can normally easily pick up your clearance in air. Otherwise, get your clearance on the ground via radio or void time via phone. Syracuse is always happy to have me pick up in air, but they are not terribly busy, and are very helpful. If you pick up in air, find out where your local departure would prefer to do that. I usually file to GGT or UCA as an initial fix, and that gives departure plenty of time to pick me up and get me in the system prior to reaching first fix.
     
  10. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Minuses? I’d say none.

    If I were flying out of some place with an RCO that’s used a lot, I’d do it after getting a local pilot’s ‘briefing’ on it. I’ve just had bad luck with the ones I’ve tried.




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  11. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What airport? It makes a difference if it's an airborne frequency with a local antenna (for example, Chicago Center has an RCAG at Lone Rock KLNR), or if it's an RCO or something like that.
     
  12. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If you can depart VFR pick it up in the air
     
  13. Reedster

    Reedster Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My home airport is small with no frequency available on the ground for clearance. So if it is VMC, and I can maintain VFR up to about 2,000 feet, I will take off and receive my clearance in the air. If not then I call directly into Chicago TRACON after my run up at the departure end of the runway.

    Assuming my destination does not have a tower, then I generally ask for the best way to get my departure clearance. If approach isn’t too busy, I will ask them, otherwise I will ask someone on the ground. Some airports have a clearance frequency, but it may only work in certain areas of the airport. Many times there is a local number and you will talk to the controller that will handle your departure. If you look around the FBO, there might be a printed handout or something posted on the wall, with instructions on how to get your clearance.

    If you are coming in IMC to a non-towered airport the approach controller will usually clear you to change to the CTAF and tell you to cancel this frequency or on the ground, and will give you a phone number. That number is often right to that controller.
     
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  14. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Was always a fan of the hybrid clearance.
    Get the “instruction” portion on the ground, depart VFR and get the release in the air.
    Just let them know that’s your plan. You could give the guy heart failure popping up with an IFR code without a release.

    Of course weather and airspace may be an overriding factor.
     
  15. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Depends on your location. If you try picking up your clearance in Long Island you’ll get yelled at or laughed at or both. They didn’t even like giving me a pop up IFR when unforecast fog rolled into MTP and I had to divert to HTO and shoot the RNAV down to mins.
     
  16. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If your going to pick it up in the air,be ready to copy a full route clearance.,and have an idea of the intersections on the route.
     
  17. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    That’s exactly why I posted my technique a few posts back.
     
  18. jkrace

    jkrace Filing Flight Plan

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    It depends on the aircraft, weather, and your location. When I pick up clearance in a piston, from an untowered field, and conditions are VMC, I usually pick it up in the air, even in busy airspace. IMC, obviously on the ground, with approach/departure if there is no dedicated clearance frequency. In a turbine, from an untowered field in busy airspace I pick it up on the ground. I’ve tried it in the air, but if the frequency is busy I can be out of their airspace too quickly. Out west I’ve found picking it up in the air seems to work fine most of the time I’m VMC. It helps to do a little research prior. Usually you can find the clearances you’ll likely be given. I’ve had good luck with Fltplan. Hope that helps.
     
  19. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I gave up on the RCO thing that used to dial a phone and call approach. It was easier to call them directly on my phone (with the cord for my lightspeeds). I was happy when Culpeper got a straight remove frequency.
     
  20. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    There's still an RCO number for my base, but it hasn't worked in the almost 7 years I've been here. My club has the phone number for Approach and that's what most of us use.

    I think someone already mentioned it, but for those airports which do not have a dedicated number listed in the Chart Supp, I generally ask Approach on the way in if there is a good number to call them on the way out.
     
  21. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    I think that applies to many of the NJ and NY airports under NY ATC; you just can’t expect to get your clearance and release in the air, with release being the critical part.

    I was trying to depart Republic (KFRG) for Pittsburgh recently. There were spotty storms throughout the area and things were jammed. Got a clearance with a dozen or more waypoints and airways. I immediately had the tower taxi me out to wait for release while I decoded and entered the mess. Twenty minutes later I was still waiting despite periodic pleas for mercy thru the tower.

    Seeing my wx window closing I told the tower I’d takeoff and pickup the release in the air. Just as I left the ground the controller told me that NY Approach had my release and to switch over immediately. We joked that ‘it worked!’

    I got it along with multiple vectors for traffic avoidance. I was just enough off balance that I blew thru a climb clearance before I got it all settled back down.

    I made the window but next time I think I may just wait it out. The hybrid clearance was not the way to go at that particular moment.


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