Flight following frequency?


Filing Flight Plan
Feb 29, 2020
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Paul R
Is there a convenient way to use Foreflight to identify the correct ARTCC frequency for picking up VFR flight following when away from a metropolitan area with approach control?

I did all my flight training at a class D airport within a class C area, so I always picked up FF from the approach controller. Most of my current flying is well away from that area, but I'm not sure which station or frequency to tune to pick up VFR flight following once I'm enroute.

Contact flight service on 122.2 and ask, or pull up the sectional on ForeFlight and find the closest ARTCC or RCO freq.
Disagree with the post above. Calling Flight Service is not an efficient way to find a Center frequency. Use the IFR low altitude enroute chart and look for the Center frequency box nearest your position. Sectional charts do not list ARTCC frequencies anywhere. On Foreflight you can look at the info tab for a nearby airport, and it will give the local center sector frequency..
The A/FD should give frequencies for ATC with radar service. Garmin Pilot has a frequencies list in the airport information page. Both show Salt Lake Center on 126.85 for my home airport, for example. ForeFlight has the same feature but I don’t have a subscription now to verify what it’s called. The post above this one probably has it right.

Away from airports, the IFR low chart is my go-to. But the ForeFlight data driven chart also shows frequencies in castellated boxes, like the low charts do, if my memory is accurate.

Another option is to use your panel mounted avionics. My GNS 430W has a nearest ATC feature that probably gets me the right frequency more often than not. The not side of that equation comes from living at the edge of an ARTCC and mostly flying toward the neighboring Center, so by the time I reach an altitude where they can hear me, they tell me to call the other guy to pick up my clearance.
I still have a panel-docked garmin 496 portable, and the "Nearest ARTCC" list is my favorite thing. I use it all the time.

I'll also use Garmin Pilot to pull up a nearby airport and load its approach plate and pluck the frequency off of that.
A/FD if all else fails. Maybe not taught these days but that’s the fall back. Easiest on ForeFlight is to tap on the airfield, then go to “Info” on the top left(may have to hit “details” first”). It should give you the Center or Approach freq. Some remote fields don’t have it listed, then try the IFR low charts, the nearest blue scalloped box.
I asked the same question 8 years ago, unfortunately I think the answer is still no. Best bet is still hitting nearest airport and finding an approach freq.
The low IFR chart has those blue dashed line boxes with the frequency in them. That will get you started, they might switch you to a different one if the other one is better
Easiest way IMO with Foreflight is to tap on the closest airport and find the Approach frequency on the "Info" tab under "Other Frequencies". If you are out in the boonies it may be a Center frequency...if closer to a C or B it may be a TRACON frequency.

If they are not the correct frequency for your exact location and altitude they will gladly tell you exactly who to contact. I would not sweat one second if it should be a Center to Tracon frequency for initial contact

The individual sector frequencies beyond that and what is printed on Sectionals and Low IFR charts are not published anywhere for the pilots to be able to access.
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The “postage stamp” frequencies will be shown when you have the Aeronautical layer turned on.

Look near KADM and KGLE to see an example.

It's often hard to tell whether there's an ARTCC or TRACON that's in charge of an area, as not all TRACONs have B or C airspace. Mansfield, OH and Casper, WY come to mind - They look like plain old Deltas, but they also have (or had) approach controls.

Even if there is charted airspace nearby, the shape of the airspace they control may be vastly different than you would think, and they may have additional frequencies for further-away areas. For example, Milwaukee TRACON controls the airspace all the way up to where Green Bay takes over, so they are controlling airports like Oshkosh and Sheboygan that are nowhere near their charted airspace, and on frequencies that aren't listed near them on the chart.

Finally, if you're flying at night (or even outside of the business day in some locations due to COVID), this may change. For example, Madison Approach reverts to Chicago Center at night.

The quickest and most reliable method these days, assuming you're below 10,000 MSL, is to find the closest airport with an IFR approach, by looking for the nearest area with Class E down to 700 feet, Class D, C, or B. If you're in ForeFlight, you can touch the chart near that airport, tap its name in the resulting popup, and hit "Details" - Modify as necessary for whatever EFB you use. Then, just look at who handles approach/departure service. Same thing can be done with an A/FD (sorry, "Chart Supplement").

99% of the time, that method will get you to the controller who will handle you for flight following. The other 1% you'll at least get to a controller, who will tell you the appropriate frequency.

If you're above 10,000, use the "stamps" on the IFR Low charts.
Easiest way IMO with Foreflight is to tap on the closest airport and find the Approach frequency on the "Info" tab under "Other Frequencies". If you are out in the boonies it may be a Center frequency...if closer to a C or B it may be a TRACON frequency...
I think this is the best answer to his question.

By the way, it doesn't necessarily have to be out in the boonies to only list a Center frequency. See Santa Rosa (STS) for example. It's pretty urban.