Flight following - not sure why I didn't use it before

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by samiamPA, Nov 10, 2020.

  1. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-Flight

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    Today I was on a short XC flight at 3000, and had flight following. They advised of traffic at my 1:00, but could not tell me more because the traffic was not speaking with ATC. I could not see them because I was flying right at the sun. They advised a climb to 3500. I saw them pass right in front of me at 3000 - if not for the climb, it would have been uncomfortably close (or worse).

    For the first 300 hours and 7 years that I have been flying, I never really used flight following. I know why - it's because I wasn't comfortable with talking to ATC. After a couple of IFR lessons and moving my airplane to a controlled airport, I feel so much more comfortable and it is no big deal.

    If there is any VFR pilot out there who doesn't use this resource, I'd highly recommend going outside of your comfort zone and getting the training to feel comfortable with using this. It is so helpful to have another set of eyes watching the sky for me. In addition to traffic, I feel like now I always have someone by my side in the event of an emergency.
     
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  2. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    word.
     
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  3. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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  4. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    49BC5DBB-1FB1-452E-9768-1278EFA0B171.jpeg I always use flight following around the B....
     
  5. Jumpmaster

    Jumpmaster Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Always use it unless I am just staying in the pattern. What is frustrating at times is ATC will call out traffic, your ADSB in will confirm it (if you have it), but dang if you can’t see it with your Mark 1 (or in my case Mark 3) eyeballs! The other frustrating aspect of it is out west in remote areas, you can loose communications unless you are very high up and even then you might still loose ATC. So when you need it the most, it might not be available. Think flying the Columbia Gorge into Portland/Troutdale when you are below the rim because of the clouds and you know other pilots are going the same thing.
     
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  6. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Always for more than 50 miles. Less than that I talk to approach controls.
     
  7. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    Seriously - what you wrote above is a "thing"?
     
  8. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Or a ....thang
     
  9. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Yup...for some reason many think it is only for long XC trips and direct to destination flying. Not so. If I leave the pattern, I call for FF. It is a no brainer.
     
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  10. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    Do we have people too timid to talk to a controller? A radio is scary or something?
     
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  11. JonH

    JonH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just don't be like half the people on youtube and require 6 radio calls to get established.
     
  12. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff

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    I feel it is even more important to use FF when you are maneuvering in the practice area than during a cross country. During maneuvering, you are typically busy focusing on the maneuver it is easy to miss other aircraft, even if you have an ADS-B display. During a cross country you have plenty of time to look outside and cross check your ADS-B.
     
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  13. smv

    smv Pattern Altitude

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    I know a several pilots who were trained at untowered fields and their ONLY interaction with ATC was during their "three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower" solo cross-country flight where they had to talk to the tower. Some CFIs do not seem to think it very important.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
  14. Art Schmidt

    Art Schmidt Filing Flight Plan

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    As an “newer” pilot, I love FF. Unfortunately, it wasn’t taught during my primary flight training, nor is it mentioned in much of the published training materials. It’s definitely a helping hand. Only drawback so far for me is some of the remote radar areas that I fly in MT you realize that you feel naked without it when they lose you.
     
  15. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-Flight

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    FF is yet another VERY valuable tool in our toolbag, and one that all pilots should indeed be aware of. But like many other great tools we have, it's not a magic pill that solves all of our problems. Don't let the benefits of FF make you complacent. It's not always guaranteed, and can go away at a moment's notice, just like the magenta line, autopilot, or iPads. The loss of any one tool in our arsenal shouldn't make us feel naked, as we should be primarily relying on our own situational awareness above all. Remember that VFR Flight Following is a workload-permitting service and I've been dropped a few times when the approach controller had bigger fish to fly(important to consider when weather or visibility may be degrading/getting marginal).

    I was introduced to FF early in my training and still use it almost every time I leave the pattern, because it's always good to have more eyes on me just-in-case. But our go/no-go decisions still rest on our own shoulders, and should not lean on the the assumption that ATC or any other system/entity will keep us away from trouble. IOW, don't do things you otherwise wouldn't be comfortable with just because you assume you'll have FF.

    Not to harass you, Art. I just think it's an ever-important learning point especially for all pilots, especially those with fresh student/private certificates.
     
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  16. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    If I'm going to talk to ATC, I'll just file IFR.

    Otherwise the radio chatter just interrupts my music.
     
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  17. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Flights < 1hr in duration I usually just get get FF if it's convenient, or go without if it's not. I file on flights over an hour.
     
  18. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    FF is definitely a plus with all the special use airspace along the east coast and Florida.
     
  19. Doctor Bob

    Doctor Bob Filing Flight Plan

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    I’m fortunately in a smaller area Just south of Chattanooga. I use FF almost always, even when just flying around aimlessly. I just tell them I’m out sightseeing and would appreciate the extra eyes on me. They are always super helpful and always willing to help. They have saved my bacon more than once looking out for me. It’s a free service and not only helps you, but your fellow pilots sharing the airspace, so why wouldn’t you use it?
     
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  20. kaiser

    kaiser Pre-Flight

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    It’s a fantastic tool and I always use it when leaving my local area. But it’s just that - a tool, not a silver bullet.

    On a long boring XC I had one event where I spotted traffic on ADS-B departing an airfield and basically climbed towards me across my flight path. No warning from ATC, and my eyes didn’t see them until they were very close. Had I not caught them on ADS-B and climbed a few hundred feet, it would have been very exciting.
     
  21. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It’s a great service to use.
     
  22. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Yes. Plenty of them. Some instructors really suck.
     
  23. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    I’m not being sarcastic when I say that this blows my mind.
     
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  24. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    I know. It’s sad.
     
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  25. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Haven’t used FF since I got ADSB in. For the most part I see what they see. Some big terminals have primary radar and can spot targets not running a transponder, but those are mostly areas I don’t frequent.
     
  26. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Flight following is you friend in the hazy Midwest summers and I use it when not filing IFR. For the most part I get hand offs to the next sector too.
     
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  27. Art Schmidt

    Art Schmidt Filing Flight Plan

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    Appreciate the feedback!
     
  28. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    No pilot should be uncomfortable talking to ATC. They are one of the best tools out there to help you. It amazes me how many pilots avoid C and D airspace because they don’t feel comfortable talking to another person.
     
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  29. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I always get flight following. Even if I'm just taxiing to the fuel pumps.
     
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  30. wayne

    wayne Pattern Altitude

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    Yep. Or at least uncomfortable with it. Not me. I learned at a towered airport with Class D airspace under Atlanta's Class B airspace and fly IFR regularly.

    Used to get together with other pilots for lunches. You could usually tell where people initially trained by where they wanted to go. Those that trained at towered airports preferred towered airports. Those that trained at untowered preferred untowered, some were very concerned about going to an airport in Class D airspace and would never go to one in Class C airspace.

    I trained out of Class D, but we did most of our landing practice at untowered airports, one of them quite busy with training flights.

    I strongly prefer towered airports when the weather requires an IFR flight plan. Some untowered airports you can reach ATC via radio on the ground, which helps.

    If the weather is nice I don't care if the airport is towered or not. Typically the untowered airports have cheaper fuel, which is nice.



    Wayne
     
  31. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yep, I never bothered with FF until I moved to IAD and then since I was dealing with ATC on every flight, it just got habitual.
     
  32. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Not in any way afraid to talk on the radio, but they really don't do me much good (I was on one time recently coming out of controlled airspace, they just left me on) and they didn't alert me to anything that wasn't on the box.

    I find it a little more relaxing when I don't have to listen for my tail number all the time.
     
  33. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Flocks of birds and non-transponder equipped airplanes show up on your ADS-B? You must have paid extra for that.
     
  34. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I have never, in 20 years, had anyone on the radio warn me about birds. Most of the places I fly ATC can't see them either unless they're carrying avian transponders.
     
  35. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I have, and balloons, and numerous other non-transponder targets (airplanes w/o electrical) on more than one occasion.

    "Altitude unverified, type unknown"

    One radar return ended up being a large group of party balloons.

    But just keep staring at that box.
     
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  36. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I'm in the more eyes the better camp. Had the 345 sending traffic to the ipad, with a certificated pilot in the right seat flying along with me. Even so, I was issued a traffic alert, immediate right turn heading 270. As you know, when the controller says traffic alert vs just traffic, it's wise to act immediately. I was banking and yanking even before I hit the xmit button to acknowledge the vector.

    Neither of us saw the traffic, and obviously it snuck up on the controller as well, but no harm, no foul.
     
  37. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I agree that all students should be taught to use flight following and flight plans on their initial cross countries before their certificates. And should achieve some level of comfort with this type of radio work so it can always be used when in crowded airspace, bad visibility, etc.

    OTOH, when cruising at 12,500 on long cross countries, I prefer to enjoy some music and look out without the constant chatter.
     
  38. Doctor Bob

    Doctor Bob Filing Flight Plan

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    I had an instructor that was very strict and would berate you if you messed up the comms. I’m talking one word out of place type of radio Hitler. I would literally have the exact phrases written down with spaces to fill in the blanks for altitude, heading and position, etc. I would cringe if I screwed up because I knew what was going to follow from his mouth. Only later after I got my license and after some very long XC flying and listening to other pilots that I realized even the “big boys” flying the commercial planes screw up and nobody seemed to care. Heck, most controllers and even pilots would laugh about it on air. It took me some time to realize that pilots AND controllers are human too and there’s no sense in worrying and sweating the “small stuff.” We’re all in this together and if we can’t help each other out then the system would be a failure.

    Key the mike and talk away, it just might save a life...even yours.
     
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  39. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    As an instructor, I push the use of Flight Following all the time, for several reasons:

    1. The obvious one, another set of eyeballs watching traffic for you.
    2. If you have a problem, you already have communications with someone that knows who and where you are and can assist.
    3. If you ever have intentions of getting an instrument rating, you get more comfortable flying "in the system" and talking to ATC. Takes some of the new person anxiety out of instrument flying.
     
  40. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    I learned to fly at towered airports, so flight following was a no-brainer. It also made communication with ATC during instrument training a non-event.
     
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