Identifying the aircraft to follow

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by ksandrew, Feb 16, 2021.

  1. ksandrew

    ksandrew Pre-Flight

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    I do not go into large airports that often, but when the young lady in the tower tells me to follow that Fokker in front of me I get a little bit confused. I could say "unable as I do not know what a silly fokker looks like". but that would not give the professional image I am trying to portray.

    Yes I know a 172, a King Air, or even a Beaver, but when it comes to an Airbus 340 I am lost.

    Looking up the arse end of a Trident looks just like a L1011 to me. So here is where I am looking for some help. Like a set of flash cards, or a youtube channel or something to help me identify aircraft.

    Life is a barrel of fun.

    Ken
     
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  2. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Since there should be 1-2 miles of separation, focus on the position of the plane and less what it looks like. I would not be able to tell one jet from another, or one twin prop from another.
     
  3. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    I don’t know what every plane looks like either, generally ‘position’ works. One can not acknowledge traffic if need be, or error to the side of a larger gap, letting tower call the turn.

    Yeah, I like the patterns where it’s just me, like yesterday. It was cold out & the presidential TFR was a few hours away.
     
  4. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    Not to add to your confusion, but going into bigger airports there may be more than one of the same airplane, painted just like each other.
     
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  5. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    A few years back I was flying into KSYR, vfr, and atc gave me an instruction something like, "turn right downwind 33....following the Cessna.." Fine...easy to do, the other plane was easily in sight....but the Cessna must not have understood whatever instructions given because he turned upwind 33. Controller jumped on him, quickly and taking no prisoners, then radio'd me, "Cherokee 42, do NOT follow that Cessna anywhere." I laughed.

    I don't have a ton of experience, but in the experience I do have, being able to visually identify the make of the aircraft ATC tells you to follow isn't usually necessary. The location of that traffic given to you by ATC is usually specific enough, given separation and ATC procedures; they're not going to ask you to follow a plane you can't see, and I would think that in that environment it would be unusual to be close enough to more than one plane that it would make sense to "follow." When in doubt, just ask atc for clarification. Projecting a "professional image" is way less important than BEING professional. When in doubt, professionals request clarification.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
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  6. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Dem Fokkers are flying Airbuses there days.

    I had to give my wife a lesson in airliner identification when she learned to fly at IAD.
    She got her revenge when an airliner was given taxi instructions to follow the Navion. "The what?" "You see that little blue airplane there? You get behind her and follow her to the runway."
     
  7. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    A fleet of Fleets.

    My airliner identification skills have deteriorated significantly since I stopped flying for a living in '96. But you can forget all the old stage one and two Jurassic jets that turned kerosene into noise and smoke. No BAC 1-11, no 727, no Caravelle, etc. Anything pax with 4 engines is nearly gone. So long whales, -7, BAE-146, Dh.114 (Heron). The guppies are still around but their resemblances to guppies has faded.

    The old un-pressurized pax regionals are gone - say bye to: BE-99, SD-3 (30 & 60), EMB-110, PA-T1020 and PA-T1040. Though C-208s and C-402s soldier on. Cape Air is the exception to the trends so you will still see BN-2, C-402, and the new Tecnam twin.

    These days the proliferation of corporate iron causes me confusion. Once I referred to a Phenom as a Citation. My bad.
     
  8. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Keep in mind that if you acknowledge visual contact, that relieves ATC of responsibility for separation.

    I’m not saying “don’t acknowledge visual contact so it remains ATC’s responsibility,” but make darn sure you identify the correct aircraft. I used to fly with a guy who would regularly call the traffic in sight, but it turned out he was looking at the wrong aircraft.
     
  9. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    Same applies to airports.
     
  10. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Controllers in Juneau normally say something like, " 1234J you are number 2 to land behind the Cessna". If I have no contact on the Cessna I ask for them to call my base.
     
  11. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    That tower controller is a goofball. I usually get follow the low wing/high wing/twin/jet. That's about all I care to discern anyway.
     
  12. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I believe the proper response is "Tower, I have the little Fokker in sight..."
     
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  13. Todd82

    Todd82 Line Up and Wait

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    Where are you seeing a Fokker in this country now? That's a bit exciting.

    Heard on frequency recently:
    Tower: Bugsmasher 123 you're #2 behind the RJ on 2 mile final, caution wake turbulence.
    123: Umm tower what kind of RJ?
    Tower: If you're close enough to identify it by model you need to be more cautious about that wake turbulence.
     
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  14. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When my wife first got her license, we flew to Key West in our brand new (to us) C-172. The controller told us to we were number three and to "follow the Cherokee". We were on downwind and saw a plane turning base, so we followed it. Next thing we heard was "THAT PLANE JUST CUT ME OFF", so ATC asked him to go around. Then ATC told us, "I told you to follow the Cherokee; you just cut off a Mooney". "oops. Sorry".

    After taxiing to parking, we waited for the Mooney and went and apologized. He was gracious about it, but it taught us a lesson. I'm just not real sure what the lesson was, except maybe, if you are not sure, ASK. At least now we will never confuse a Mooney with a Cherokee (or anything else).
     
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  15. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    As you get more experience you learn to just ask stupid questions. My response would be something like " I will follow the Jet I see at my 1 o'clock" or " is that the Jet I see at 1'oclock the one you want me to follow" or "Which one is the Fokker?"

    When you become a CFI, you learn that if you asking these kinds of question is how you learn.


    Brian
     
  16. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I usually have no trouble maintaining separation from the airport.
     
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  17. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Approaching my untowered airport one day there were three Cessnas in the pattern doing touch and goes and they were each announcing themselves as "red and white Cessna", blue and white Cessna" and "yellow and white Cessna" I felt obligated to give them an FYI that from my vantage point they were all gray dots and I'd have to get pretty dang close to see what color stripes they had. They ignored me.
     
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  18. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    If I'm close enough to see the stripe color on your fuselage from behind or on the diagonal, I'm probably getting too close. If I see it from your front we have another problem.
     
  19. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    My response to "red and white" cessna, might be I look at my ADS-B in screen and say something like "Red and White Cessna, are you the 53B I am seeing or is there someone else is the pattern with you". We usually have enough traffic around to have someone transmitting ADS-B. This will get them looking around and let them know they have not identifed themselves. NORDO traffic happens occasional too.

    FYI the summary of the FAA guidance on operations at non-towered airports basically says it is ok to say Red and White Cessna, as long as you also included you Radio Station Identifier. So the proper way to say it Is "Red and White Cessna 53B"


    Brian
     
  20. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    And if you get that close, it may result in brown stripes.
     
  21. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    I'm sure this wasn't the case for you, but one time I was in the pattern with a student, and had just called turning downwind. Immediately thereafter another aircraft called entering downwind for the same runway. We looked but could not find the other aircraft and assumed it was in our blind spot to the rear (PA-28). I asked the other pilot if he had us in sight. His response was, "I see you on the screen." My response, "Can you see me out the window?" Guns distance is not the time to rely on the ADS-B screen.

    ATC does funny stuff sometimes. Once we were 20 miles SW of a towered airport, when approach control gave us vectors due to traffic. "Traffic is a RJ on 10 mile final to Runway 30." Not sure how they thought a 90kt bugsmasher was going to beat an RJ 10 miles closer to the airport.

    I told my student, "$20 says that RJ is at the gate unloading before we ever land." Too bad he didn't take me up on that bet.
     
  22. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Depends on how red and how white. I can tell this is a red and white Cessna from a distance:
    [​IMG]

    This one might give me problems:
    [​IMG]
     
  23. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    Ah, I meant to refer to airport identification. Many folks have not landed at the intended airport.
     
  24. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    yes of course the my responses above are for more when I am approaching the airport and trying get a picture of what/who is there.

    I have made the "Passing under the Silver Cirrus that is heading northbound over xyz airport at 11,500", his response is "we didn't see you on the TCAS" my response was "TCAS won't see any of the 7 gliders in the area that don't have transponders"

    Brian
     
  25. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    submit this to avweb for their short final
     
  26. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    Some RJs have engines in the back and some under the wings. If I'm trying to decide whether or not I have the traffic in sight knowing which would be helpful. It's the difference between a Mad Dog and a Guppy.
     
  27. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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    Would that be a big motor Fokker, or a little motor fokker?
     
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