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

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

  1. BryanAV8R

    BryanAV8R Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Never had mic fright...by the time I got to flying lessons, I'd been an amateur radio op for 17 years (still am...), 12 years in broadcasting (4 yrs behind the mic), and never thought twice about it. Oh, you have to learn the 'glossary' (ie short, sweet, to the point with commonly agreed-upon phraseology), but frightening? I guess, if your CFI didn't stress the need to learn how or 'play act' with you on the ground in the classroom.

    It's a matter of developing just one of those skills you need to have as a pretender to the left seat club. If you're flying in the middle of Kansas (a beautiful state...lived there for a few years...just using it for example) out of a small field with you and your buds...I can see where approaching NY Tracon and trying to fit in a word to get them to notice you can be a bit daunting. OTOH, learning to fly under the Mode C NY veil wedged in between NYC and PHL Class Bs, a Class C 20 minutes away, a TRSA further up and one to the west...and POTUS TFRs, etc etc etc...you get used to keying up and talking to someone.
     
  2. Doomer

    Doomer Filing Flight Plan

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    Our tax dollars pay for it, so damn right I'm using FF as often as I can!
     
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  3. caverjamie

    caverjamie Filing Flight Plan

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    I’ve debated getting FF but just haven’t been able to convince myself to actually do it other than a couple times just for practice. I typically only contact ATC when I want in their airspace. So, I have adsb in and out and targets display on my EFIS right in front of me, so it’s an easy reference to glance at. I do make a point to monitor any approach frequencies when I have been near C or B, use the local altimeter setting that they are using, and I have heard them call me out as traffic to others. Every time that has happened I already saw them on adsb and could see their flight path and altitude relative to me, like I was monitoring our relative flight paths even before ATC called me out to them.

    I feel like all that has been a sufficient amount of situational awareness. I have been shocked how much trouble I have had trying to make visual contact with adsb targets, which especially concerns me about trying to see and avoid non adsb-out traffic out there. I’ve read conflicting information on my onboard traffic picture versus what ATC can see. I am usually receiving both a tis-b data link as well as air to air from other transponder equipped aircraft, but if ATC can see more than I can, then I see extra value in FF there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2021
  4. LesGawlik

    LesGawlik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I am worried about being denied a pop-up just when I need it RFN. I figure that I am much more likely to get a pop-up if they are already looking at all my data on their screen. The OB boys just says it's a click and altitude re-assignment.
     
  5. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If you’re denied a pop up it’s because there’s no room to fit you in. Even with ADS-B they’re still required to have you on a local transponder code vs 1200. That only takes a few seconds to type in.
     
  6. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't understand why anyone would *not* use it. It's free, and fantastic.
     
  7. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Depending on the situation, this could be an emergency, getting denied a pop up IFR clearance. If you are in IMC and they say no, declare. If you can get on the ground VFR, do that and file.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2021
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  8. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    NY approach quite often denies Flight Following, so it is not “always” available. You can predict before calling whether you even have a chance of getting a code or not.

    Last time I went up, I was denied, but it is still worth a try. If they can’t work me into the system, I’ll just listen to the approach frequency and then I am at leave able to declare an emergency if needed and sometime get to hear myself as the “traffic 2 o’clock, unknown type”. If that happens, I’ll call them up and let them know that I am the “traffic”.
     
  9. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Just to be clear, I was talking about getting a pop up IFR clearance, declaring an emergency because you can't get flight following is most likely really frowned upon. ;)
     
  10. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I was obviously not talking about declaring an emergency just because they denied Flight Following. Having the right frequency pulled up saves a few precious seconds, and a few more precious brain cells when the fan does actually stop turning.
     
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  11. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Sure and if it results in an emergency (IIMC) because the clearance was denied, then it won’t matter if you’re in the system or not. The controller is gonna issue the clearance because it’s now been elevated to an emergency.

    What I’m getting at is, while already being in the system under FF reduces a few keystrokes for an IFR pick up, it’s not going to be a determine factor in denial. Takes only a few seconds to squawk up a VFR call up and then clear them IFR. If they don’t have the room or the time to do that, then they don’t have it for someone in the system either. ATC service is first come first served so a VFR call up might have more of a delay in service but a complete denial of a service is a completely different thing.
     
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  12. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    Been wondering ... how many ATC facilities monitor 121.5?
     
  13. CT583

    CT583 Pre-Flight

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    I think it’s some guy named Brandon who has a house full of cats.
     
  14. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    All of them as far as I know, well every one that I've ever worked monitors 121.5. It isn't just for pilots declaring emergencies, it's to warn a pilot about something. If only all pilots were required to monitor 121.5 it would actually accomplish something. Try working in an ATC facility during the Superbowl or the last game of the World Series.
     
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  15. PastZTL

    PastZTL Pre-Flight

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    My former facility had 121.5 at 4 (IIRC) different sites. All were monitored, most of time in the speaker instead of the controller's headset. Any transmission could be heard by most of the controllers in the area.
     
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  16. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    That's how they all have been for me. If you had that in your ear, you'd go nuts with all the meows and let's go Brandons, not to mention it would drown out who you were trying to talk to.
     
  17. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    At some point someone needs to tell them off.
     
  18. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    At some point radios will have an id built in. Anonymity encourages so much bad behavior.
     
  19. CT583

    CT583 Pre-Flight

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    If the HAM operators can triangulate frequency abusers, I’m sure the same can be done for airborne aircraft and ADSB.
    If they wanted to crack down that would be the only way with current tech.
    But I don’t see that happening right meow, possibly in the future.
     
  20. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    I see what you did there.
     
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  21. Hengelo

    Hengelo Pre-takeoff checklist

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  22. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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  23. cowtowner

    cowtowner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I use FF on every single flight over 50nm. A promise I made to my wife when I got my ticket. 300 hours later, I'm pretty comfortable talking to ATC and they have saved my bacon a time or two.

     
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  24. PaulMillner

    PaulMillner Line Up and Wait

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    ATC can call mode A traffic for you that ADS-B doesn't see...
     
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  25. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    I always used it; a plus is if you aren't IR rated yet, you get very comfy talking to various ATC facilities, making that part a non-issue.
     
  26. AirHare

    AirHare Filing Flight Plan

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    I fly with a few guys from the local ATC and they go out of their way to encourage people to use FF. Not for traffic counts either -- they're working on overload this time of year. They're interested in who you are and what your intentions are. For better or worse, the ILS/GPS approaches for the local airports have jet trafifc transitioning from 2000-3000' down to 400' along the coast, which is exactly where sight-seeing and flight training aircraft can be found. I always pick up FF when I'm out there, even if just for a sunset flight, and there's been times when they've asked me to maintain certain altitudes or given me a heads-up about possible wake turbulence.

    I feel fortunate that my training was done at a Class D with one very cranky controller. There's YouTube videos about the guy. He makes Kennedy Steve seem like Bob Ross or Mr. Rogers. My CFI warned me about him on the very first day when we heard his voice on the ATIS and told me not to take s**t from him and to give it right back to him if he does; and I have. It's actually been good training for me since I'm not assertive at all and here I had to be.

    The odd part is that off the radio he's a nice guy.
     
  27. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    And like I said, using FF creates a safer environment but it’s not easier on the controller. If they never talked to you, they’d simply issue a traffic call for the jet traffic on the ILS / GPS and be done. On FF that’s multiple traffic calls.

    It’s no different than a VFR transitioning a hot MOA. I used to work our MOAs during activation times. Some VFRs would call for FF while others didn’t. I didn’t care if they called or not. It’s their prerogative if they want to transition a MOA without talking to ATC. Would be safer for them in knowing where there are military aircraft in their area doing 500 + kts but didn’t make it easier for me if they called. It added to my workload. Not enough to matter but still.
     
  28. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Not disputing or adding to anything you said. Just curious if unidentified traffic in the MOA ever caused a mission to be scrubbed or substantially altered.
     
  29. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Not that I recall. Our MOAs were designed for an airfield attack though so the altitudes (100-500 ft) typically didn’t conflict with GA. They would all come from the Warning Area, we had some BS phraseology like “cleared into the target area, report off target.” They’d drop down below radar, do a pop up (Air Force) or level lay down (Navy / Marine), then generally fly a low level route (MRR) back out to the Warning Area.

    In fact, I was actually doing my PPL training during one of the activations. My CFI never called for FF during my training for some reason. Not long after departure and heading out to the training area, an F-16 banked right in front of us maybe a 1/2 mile away. My CFI commented on how unusual that is. I said he was most likely involved in the MOA activity today. Freaked out my CFI because he had no idea the MOAs were hot and told me to turn back to the airport immediately. “Not allowed to fly in an active MOA!” I stayed quiet. ;)
     
  30. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Aw, ya coulda told him he hadn't broke the law. Poor guy probably didn't get no sleep that night.
     
  31. PastZTL

    PastZTL Pre-Flight

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    I always wanted to be talking to the VFR traffic transiting an active MOA. I always thought it was better to he able to share information among the participating/non-participating aircraft.
     
  32. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I'd suggest the OPs experience would say new pilots should make AS MANY calls to get established as needed and ignore the internet professionals. FF is about safety, and if it takes 7 calls to be safe, be safe.
     
  33. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    Yup. Also, it is likely that if the frequency is that busy, there is nearby frequency that can take radar on you and get you in the system.
     
  34. JonH

    JonH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What I meant was they don't give the information needed by ATC in one call. So ATC has to say what type, where you going, etc etc...
     
  35. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    And on the flip side of that, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a long initial call up and ATC didn’t hear anything or only copied part of it. A waste of a long transmission that could have also blocked higher priorities (IFR clearances / instructions).

    Get in quick with “XYZ Approach Cessna 12345 VFR request” or even leave out the “VFR request.” If the controller heard the transmission, they’ll get back to ya when they can.