Do you use flight following? if so how and when do you choose to use it?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by easik, Mar 28, 2021.

  1. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I just dropped this video on how I generally use flight following. Lots of internet armchair pilots think they know best, so I'm curious how and when you decide to use flight following. Whether you agree or disagree with my point of view, let's have a discussion!
     
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  2. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well you summed it up towards the end. The verdict, it’s pilot preference. Since it’s optional there’s no right or wrong.

    I use FF for XCs only. I want the extra set of eyes for traffic and airspace awareness of ATC. Local area, I stick with IPhone / ADS-B in (Scout). I just want to enjoy the peace and quite flying locally.

    Like your vids Mike. Been watching your progress with the Sling. Hope you enjoy it.
     
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  3. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    I use it when I am going out of the area I know. Aorund long island I never use it. Start venturing into CT, NJ, Upstate NY I use it.
     
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  4. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Depends on what I’m flying and what I’m doing. It also somewhat depends on my mood. Sometimes I don’t want to be bothered.

    I rarely use the radio in the Cubs. In the Malibu or twins when I’m going somewhere I likely will call and get advisories.
     
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  5. MacFlier

    MacFlier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I use it on any cross-country outside of the local area. It makes it easier to navigate airspaces, moas, and I have an extra pair of eyes looking for traffic.
     
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  6. woywoyboy

    woywoyboy Filing Flight Plan

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    I learned to fly — and spent a bunch of years subsequent to that — at Oakland, CA (KOAK), and just took flight following (and the rest of ATC) for granted. It was the default, even (especially!) for local sightseeing flights, and I was always glad it was there and happy to use it. Even after moving to Hayward (KHWD) a few miles from Oakland, I used it for almost every VFR flight I made — I just couldn't see any down side (and still can't in an airspace like the Bay Area's). I've experienced very few of your downsides, but then maybe it's because my flying has been entirely on the Left Coast (SF and LA, mostly), and passengers often actually like hearing ATC (and I always brief them on my rather ruthless approach to cutting passengers off mid-conversation when ATC calls).

    Anyway, I liked your video — very reasonable and balanced, and it's difficult to imagine anyone taking too much exception to anything in it (but this is the GA community, famously full of experts on everything...). Plus it's nicely produced and laid back, in ways that just aren't so common in the GA video world.
     
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  7. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    I’ve almost always had my aircraft or my rentals based in an airport that’s underneath a class B shelf. Of course I’m old enough to remember that was a TCA.

    That said flight following is never something that I figure as optional. I always want the extra help. When I leave Goodyear and go towards the north, I pass right by the traffic pattern of the busiest GA airport in the United States. Deer Valley.

    I seldom depart my airspace from my local airport without the help of flight following. I always find myself amazed at the local pilots that don’t use it, and really shake my head when I learn it’s because they have a fear of talking with ATC. Really?
     
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  8. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There aren't good reasons not to when heading outside the local are (and some use it even in the practice area unless there's commonly used air-to-air self reporting), but it's personal preference.

    you might find this short (about a half minutes video interesting
     
  9. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    one could argue you didn't specify the requested altitude.......shame shame! buy yes, it amazes me how absolutely horrible people are on the radio. over and over, horrible horrible radio calls.
     
  10. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    “Exactly right” based on what reference? You could have another controller say “aircraft calling Greensboro for flight following say again.” There is no standard call in outside of the AIM and it doesn’t matter. The controller will get the information whether or not it’s a wake up or a lengthy initial call. Another thing about FF I never understood why pilots make a big deal of.
     
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  11. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I use it pretty much on every cross country flight.
     
  12. Narwhal

    Narwhal Pre-Flight

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    I use it as much as possible. I’m not ashamed to admit I am afraid of a midair collision. There are usually 1 or 2 bad ones every year in the area that I fly in. Unfortunately radar coverage is limited so it’s usually only possible within 50-100 nm of a major city.
     
  13. BrianNC

    BrianNC En-Route

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    I've never used it regularly. Only a handful of times before I got my instrument. Was never really taught to use it back in the day when I got my private For boring holes in the sky I don't use it. If I go outside the immediate area since I've been instrument rated I normally file IFR now.
     
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  14. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I only use flight following if I'm going into airspace that requires talking on the radio. Otherwise it's no radio or I file IFR. The radio chatter just interrupts my music.
     
  15. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I use FF almost all the time VFR, it just makes life easier around here, relatively busy airspace.

    In your pros, number 3, easier in different airspaces, you say they handle the different transitions for you. That's not necessarily true, people get burned by that assumption. For Charley, if you are talking to them, you are covered. For Delta and Bravo, you aren't. You need to make sure you ask for permission, don't assume you are cleared through. For Bravo you need to hear specifically cleared into Bravo, for Delta, I always ask.
     
  16. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    Unless I'm just doing a little local flight from on airport to another and FF would be impractical, or basically get tower to tower FF, I'm calling for it. It is significantly safer and also aids busy ATC.

    And you call Jerry Wagner unsafe...music as a priority over added safety.
     
  17. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    Delta does not require clearance. If you establish 2 way radio communications and are not told to remain clear, you may enter.
     
  18. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    Same with Charlie.
    But I have heard of Class D tower being annoyed that the plane i already in their airspace without speaking to them, and they were unaware of the planes existence.
     
  19. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    You can't be in Delta airspace without talking. Of course they'll be annoyed. You're breaking the rules.
     
  20. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Interesting how your choice also depends on the aircraft you're flying. Please elaborate because this was one of the points I mentioned in the video.
     
  21. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    With the tower, you need to be talking to the tower, I was under the impression that talking to control, VFR, on FF, you need to make sure you are cleared in unless they have an LOA. I always check with FF in this situation, although I generally fly over the Deltas around here unless I'm forced into them.
     
  22. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Appreciate the feedback.
     
  23. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No, you don’t need to be talking to tower. And, unless you want to annoy approach control, you don’t need to ask them if you’ve been cleared through.

    99B1B34A-D210-4558-8601-555FCFD84516.jpeg
     
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  24. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For any given "cross country", I will either file IFR (depending on weather or airspace that I need to pass through) or VFR flight following (without filing a flight plan). Also, if you are using VFR Flight Following and the cloud deck forms below you, it is easy to get a local IFR "pop up" flight plan filed to allow you to descend through that deck to your destination.

    If I am just practicing maneuvers (slow flight, stalls, steep turns, chandelles, etc.) I don't use ATC but just monitor local CTAF for that area. For local sightseeing - it depends on direction of flight and activity whether I asked for VFR radar services. Our local Class D TRSA approach is more than happy to provide radar services if you are out just "goofing around" and just want to have someone looking out for you. Interestingly, not only am I within a few miles of a Class D airport (KGGG), I am under a TRSA which is really strange nowadays. They used to be commonplace.

    Good video as usual.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
  25. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, that's an advisory document for ATC and pilots should never worry about "annoying" ATC, especially with a question like " am I cleared through that airspace", never.

    Like many things in aviation, the delta point is clear as mud, I'll continue to question, but my bravo point is absolutely valid.

    Here is another POV on the delta question.

    Transiting Airspace with Flight Following | BruceAir, LLC (bruceair.com) (wordpress.com)

    Edit:

    And another

    How To Use VFR Flight Following | Boldmethod
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
  26. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well I should have been more specific. One typically asks FF specifically for what they want or need. The point is rather than having to change freq and talking to different folks, you generally talk to FF for your needs. In my case, I specifically ask for transition or clearance through any airspace if I'm flying within its shelf.
     
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  27. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That’s not an advisory document for ATC. It’s out of their controllers manual. It’s an order they must follow and in this case, an airspace violation if they don’t. If you’re up a radar facility and receiving basic radar service (FF), they MUST coordinate your transition with any towers along your route. If they don’t, it’s considered an Operational Deviation on their side. None of that affects you as a pilot at all.

    Now, if you just want to be extra cautious and ask every radar facility if they’ve coordinated for you, be my guest. I usually replied with “yes, it’s my job to.”
     
  28. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    I use flight following when I'm on an IFR flight plan in VMC and ATC decides to give me a re-route.
     
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  29. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Actually I have asked many times, and never got that answer, most of the time, it's Oh, let me take care of that for you, followed by a clearance and an altitude. I'll keep asking, for now anyway.
     
  30. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    [​IMG]

    Underrated comment right there. Brother from another mother :D
     
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  31. tsts4

    tsts4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Nice video. I’ve never used VFR FF myself as I fly all my X/Cs IFR, but I’ll add my $.02 nevertheless on some of your Cons.

    1. Noisy cockpit— I think it’s boils down to each individual and to some degree experience. ATC Enroute comes can be daunting but in time, like most things, it becomes natural and you don’t think about it. I fly with music on all the time and carry on conversations most of the flight with my wife (mostly). You get used to what’s noise and what’s important for you and respond accordingly. Some just like the quiet, period, and can’t stand any background noise or distractions.
    2. Extra Time & 3. Diversions. My advice on the airspace (D, C, and B) is fly high enough (generally greater than 4K and you’ll over fly it, except B. For B, unless there’s a VFR flyway, probably best just to plan to go around or under the shelf. As for deviations, FF is advisory. If they are starting to vector you just cancel if you feel comfortable enough, which IMO you should. In your Miami example if I had been 5 minutes out I’d have cancelled and saved myself getting vectored all over God’s creation. I’ve done the same IFR when it’s VMC and saved myself considerable time as a consequence. If it’s IMC it is what it is but that’s accounted for in the IFR planning so it’s not really a gotcha.
     
  32. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Does that include a military Delta? What you are saying has been my experience as well. I ask if I'm cleared and the controller says, of course, I've got you covered. I've been asked to check with the tower twice, both with military towers. There's a few on the FL coast if you are low.
     
  33. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Oh yeah. I used to work approach around a military delta. Used to work a delta surround by a military approach as well.

    There are a few scenarios when dealing with a radar facility (approach / center) providing FF and a tower is involved. You’ve got the guy flying low (2,500 & below) doing a XC and heading at the D. Radar calls tower on the landline and requests a transition. Tower usually with say “transition approved.” If they have traffic, they may say “transition approved at or above xxx” or some other restriction. If they’ve got a lot of traffic they might even say “unable, remain clear.”

    There are times when under FF and just local area, operating near the D where you might just get a restriction from radar. They’re busy and they don’t want to chance you violating the D. They might just say “remain clear of Podunk class D UFN.” Or “Let me know if you plan on operating in Podunk class D.” I did that a few times when I just couldn’t dedicate total attention to them. It’s a tactic when you can still provide (barely) FF but aren’t taking chances with an airspace violation.

    It doesn’t matter how busy the radar controller is, if a violation occurs, it’s still on them. While technically an Operational Deviation and the controller gets removed from position, investigation ensues, suspension, retraining, etc., most of the time it’s nothing more than a landline apology.
     
  34. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So are you a controller? I'd like to get an answer I can trust, if you check out the two links I gave, they conflict with what you said.

    The last time I asked was about 2 months ago, I was actually on a flight review with an instructor, I had gotten FF, was going to climb, and had told them before I took off, that I was planning on climbing to 3,500. When I started climbing the cloud deck a few miles from the airport was at about 2,500 so I stopped at 2,000. I called up the controller and asked if I was cleared through the Delta ahead, he said "I thought you were going to 3,500?" I told him about the deck which went about 3 miles into the delta. He told me he'd take care of it, then told me I was cleared in and to maintain 2,000 or above.
     
  35. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Show me how much traffic is in northern Michigan or over the middle of Lake Michigan and where the RADAR coverage stops. And just ignore the part where I said I'll file IFR. Oh, you mean you don't know what you are talking about? Yeah, thought so. No wonder you think Jerry is God's gift to flying.
     
  36. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-Flight

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    Good video, thanks for sharing. I'm now subscribed.

    With regards to FF, I have only ever been happy to have them, and there were times that I got into suboptimal situations that could have been avoided with it. So yeah, it has some minor annoyances, but the benefits (in my mind) clearly outweigh the drawbacks.
     
  37. Todd82

    Todd82 Line Up and Wait

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    I did my training out of a Class C primary so it was second nature to be talking to them. They'd keep us on frequency / squawk code outside of the C to provide advisories in the practice area since they knew we'd be coming back to come home to them eventually. Once I left there I was so used to dealing with approach controllers I almost felt "naked" not talking to them, and here in the DAY/CVG/CMH triangle there's enough traffic and airspaces it's good working with them here too.
     
  38. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You are not the first one to mention that. But yes, it kind of proves the point.
     
  39. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You miss the point. There was absolutely nothing special about my call. That's the point.

    I should have included the 4 minutes in the middle. I think it was the reason for the compliment. It was another flight following call in which the controller had to play dentist. Had to pull literally every element from the pilot, one by one.

    FWIW, I gauge the length of my call by what else I hear on the frequency. I've done the short "wake up" call ("Cessna 1234X for flight following") too although this one (plus altitude, @eman1200) has pretty much been the one I've used 90% of the time over the last 30 years. So far, one "aircraft calling say again" on a very quiet frequency. I think I woke him up.

    Absolutely agree with you it's no big deal. If anything is a big deal with ATC, it's deciding the content before you open your mouth so you can get it out without a lot of extra umms, errs and uhhs.
     
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  40. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Now now, he's just saying that completely distracting yourself from the job of flying to talk to your audience is much safer than listening to music while maintaining course, altitude and general situational awareness. Who could argue with that? :confused::p