VFR Flight planning through or around DC

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by 4RNB, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    New pilot here. I spent many hours planning a flight to visit family in PA, travelling from Eastern NC. Direct route took me near DC SFRA. I went to FAA site and completed training. Initial route planned outside the SFRA but within 60 nm of DC to bathroom break planned in WInchester, then was going to skirt around Philly airspace. As we approached the 60 nm envelope foreflight popped up a TFR warning and lit the space up differently than I recall it when reviewing the flight on the ground. I could not figure it out so landed at another airport to regroup.

    I could not figure out what the TFR was so aimed to skirt further west, closer or over mountains. The day had some clouds, the bottoms of which were difficult to determine relative to the mountains and as I climbed, it did not seem like I could get higher. Rather than push my comfort level or flying into crap we turned for home. I have zero mountain flying experience but had received coaching to cross at 45 degree angle and stay add 50% of peak to my altitude. I might have been safe under or over the clouds but at 9000 ft it looked like I could not climb higher than them and there was a lot of gray under the clouds.

    Considering the trip again, looking to go east of DC, lots of restricted airspace.

    So my questions are:
    How do you or would you fly through or around DC?
    Is there an easy way on Foreflight to determine what the pop up TFR was all about? It had not been present on the ground.
    Once on the ground, was there a better way for me to know what the TFR was?

    My cage got rattled and I was not as resourceful as I would have liked to have been!
    Thanks
     
  2. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    You probably saw the "speed ring" at 60nm, which for some reason displays differently when received via ADS-B than via internet. That happened to me on a recent trip back from NY.

    What are your departure and destination airports?
     
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  3. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    Yep, it's startling when it pops up and you know you're nowhere close to the SFRA. :eek:

    As to the original question, yes, the DC SFRA is both useless and a pain in the ass, but enough about the combination of the FAA-USSS-FBI. :D When VFR, flight following is key to getting through here with ease. Yes, the bumps off the Appalachians can be bad and if you decide to make the transit this way go high (above 8K) to minimize them but another option is to go east and up the eastern shore. Depending on where you're going in PA you can cut north of the BWI Class B to get back to the mainland or just see if approach will let you transit -- They're pretty good about it in my experience and that will keep you clear of the TFR too.

    Flying around here can be pretty demanding at times.
     
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  4. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    I make this trip PHL to western NC once or twice per year. I usually go east. Smoother ride. I'll generally land at St. Marys for fuel. This route works well. 0A7 VPACE 2W6 MD82 KLOM . I'll also usually file a VFR flight plan so I'm not surprising them since Lady Luscombe does not have an electrical system. The Shenandoah valley is beautiful so I'll go west if the winds are light.
     
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  5. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    I second the flight following. I trained under the SFRA. It really is not that big a deal to talk to ATC and file for transition gates. There is/was a VFR corridor south of BWI but you needed to file an SFRA plan to use it.

    I could not see what you are flying, if you can go low and slow there is some really pretty views both east and west of Potomac. If headed west HGR used to be a great stop for fuel, as long as no one was at Camp David (P40).

    You also did not need 9k to get over those mountains. With a little planning on the sectional, you could with a few bumps fly pretty much about 5k all the way down.

    Tim

    Sent from my HD1907 using Tapatalk
     
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  6. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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  7. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I know you're new at this, but just keep this in mind, an instrument rating makes all this simple and greatly improves the chance of completing the trip across weather systems.

    Also, you were talking to ATC, ask them if you get mixed up. Something like " Potomac approach, I'm getting an airspace indication on Foreflight, am I ok where I'm headed?"
     
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  8. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne Final Approach

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    Quit with the negative waves, man.
    Since Biden's been in office, most every weekend either P40 or Wilmington have been hot as well...and he has a beach house in DE. might keep that in mind when you do your planning. May make going east of the SFRA a little problematic. Don't discount that you can file an SFRA flight plan vfr, enter at one of the gates, and go south between Dulles and Reagan in a vfr corridor at or below 3000 ft.
     
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  9. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So what you are suggesting is there was not really a TFR?
     
  10. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Cessna 172.
    9000 was my attempt to get above clouds.
     
  11. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I get a CFII in the plane with me, I expect to make just this kind of thing a priority. I likely could do it, but would prefer 2nd eyes the 1st time.
     
  12. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Hate to say it, but you need an instrument rating if you are going to play in that neighborhood.
     
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  13. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sure looks that way!
     
  14. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Correct. Keep your 172 under 230 knots and you'll be fine :)
     
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  15. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    Departure airport and arrival airport?

    unless you're headed to western PA follow the Delmarva peninsula north you should miss the speed ring of DC. As others mentioned, biden comes home to Wilmington (KILG) so as long as you're on flight following and have a transponder code issued you can transit the outter ring. Strongly suggest monitoring 121.5 if you transit the outter ring, who needs an F16 or military helicopters trying to get your attention. ;)

    I just cant wait until he comes to his beach house......what a cluster *#@k that will be.
     
  16. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    PGV to N79
     
  17. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If the clouds are sort of flat (stratus) and not "bubbly" (cumulous) then you can probably out climb them, but you have to be careful that you can get back down without going through them. If the clouds are churning and bubbly, (cumulous) chances are you won't outclimb them in a piston single. At 9,000 feet, hypoxia should be on your mind, really 8,000 and above.
     
  18. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    At 9K it was clear we would not be able to go above. The entire range of mountains in site appeared to have clouds above them. We were not there long.

    We had a lot of fun and I think my wife developed increased confidence in my decision making.
     
  19. mcdewey

    mcdewey Pre-takeoff checklist

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    PGV VPACE VPAXI W29 KMTN N79: Keeps you away from the SFRA. Don't worry about 60 NM Mode C, unless you don't have a transponder. You'll have to talk to KMTN if you don't get a BRAVO clearance.

    PGV VPACE VPAXI CIDOB N79: Keeps you away from the SFRA, KMTN and restricted area and you don't have to talk to anyone. Might be blocked by the TFR if Biden is at Wilmington

    Lots of places for gas/food. KESN (Easton) has a good restaurant, check the hours. W29 (Bay Bridge) has a convenience store next to it with a good deli. Restaurants are about a 15 minute walk, no crew car.

    I'm based at W29 and pretty much every hour I have (~700) is out of there. It's a great area to fly in and you don't need an Instrument rating.

    (Edit: fixed diameter of Mode C ring)
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
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  20. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Westerly... I'd probably go KPGV KMRB N79. Keeps you out of the bravo and away from P40. Be careful around CSN (busy), be careful of the JYO student traffic conga line to OKV.

    Easterly... as above, be careful of the TFRs, Patuxent, and Aberdeen. Get gas and enjoy fine dining at Cambridge or Easton.
     
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  21. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Don't get me wrong on the altitude thing, I'm not saying don't do it, but just be careful if you do, get a pulse oximeter. Check yourself and passengers above 8,000.



    Easton is great, both the FBO and restaurant with their sticky buns. Was there on the way to Sun and Fun, wanted to stop on the way back but weather didn't cooperate so I went to Hagerstown, the Rider Jet was great, the restaurant was closed so they gave me a crew car. Nice people.
     
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  22. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    It depends. If I'm heading anywhere I file IFR and an IFR rating will certainly help understand the "one of each please" mix of airspace in the area but VFR flying, especially of you understand the VFR flyways, is really pretty easy.
     
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  23. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    Why deal with the mountains.....stick to the flatlands and the view along the Chesapeake Bay.

    KPGV CCV SBY SISSI LRP RAV N79
    PGV N79.jpg
     
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  24. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    TFRs. Biden goes home to DE a lot. Also to Camp David, the result is you should be talking to ATC and making sure you get a briefing before flight.

    Tim
     
  25. LesGawlik

    LesGawlik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Foreflight handles SFRA flight plans really well. It's not hard at all. Just make a note of the frequencies and gates you will be using. Always get flight following. They may even clear you into the SFRA without changing frequencies. It is nerve-wracking at first, but after that it's no big deal.
     
  26. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    What Gary said. The restricted areas going up the eastern shore isn't that bad. R-6604E tops out at 4000'.

    If there is a TFR for Biden, it's going to impact most of the space between BWI and PHL, so if you're going near PHL, it's a problem anyway.
     
  27. Cervieres

    Cervieres Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I reached the same conclusion about 2 minutes into the FAA SFRA training.
     
  28. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I was based at VKX on 9/11 so I was one of the first through the FRZ process. Unless you're operating in/out of those the FRZ is right out.
    Operating through the SFRA isn't an issue. Just follow the procedures.
    Not that getting into the class B is a different story. Having also been based at IAD for several years (and returning there for various events) I got used to getting into the class B. Of course, PCT can be a bitch about approving transits (I was just up there going from roughly CSN to GAI and was sent around).
     
  29. Paul V

    Paul V Pre-Flight

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    The SFRA isn't bad at all. If you're unfamiliar / uncomfortable, bring another pilot along on your first time through. Just follow the procedures and you'll be fine. NEVER squawk 1200 in the SFRA (this is grilled into you during the training) unless you like the idea of an F16 escort. As others have mentioned, the frequent Biden TFRs as well as the SFRA make flight following a must. Another tip, sometimes you don't get an answer on the published frequency for a given gate coming in (don't know if this is a COVID staffing issue or something else). If you are already on flight following from a ways out, then this won't be an issue and they'll set you up on the appropriate frequency before you even get close. Finally, depending on which way you're going through the SFRA, be prepared for them to NOT give you a bravo clearance. Have a few routes mapped out for different scenarios. If you get a bravo clearance consider it a win.
     
  30. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If you come into PCT on flight following, you don't need to switch frequencies to the "transponder observed" guy. They'll ask if you have an SFRA plan filed and if you do that's good enough for them.
     
  31. John Collins

    John Collins Pattern Altitude

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    The 60 NM ring is permanently depicted on the Washington Sectional and the TAC chart. There is also a note on the sectional describing the use of the 60 NM ring. The FAA ADS-B ground stations in the area broadcast the TFR for ZDC 9/1155 as does SiriusXM which includes the 30 NM to 60 NM speed restriction for VFR aircraft. So the TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) is permanently charted on VFR charts. Also if you tap on the area inside the 60 NM to 30 NM area surrounding DCA, ForeFlight includes an airspace entry "Wash DC VFR Speed Restriction" with a link to the details.

    Is there a problem, FAA or otherwise?
     
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  32. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for this info folks, likely what we encountered at that time and could have continued. But my knowledge is very incomplete!
     
  33. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I see three related issues:
    1. within ForeFlight, TFR data via ADS-B displays differently than TFR data via internet
    2. more generally, EFB/EFIS displays TFR data differently than tfr.faa.gov
    3. The part I quoted from ForeFlight suggests that the data broadcasted by the towers are not internally self-consistent

    Maybe the easiest solution is for tfr.faa.gov to display the speed ring.
     
  34. Paul V

    Paul V Pre-Flight

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    It is a ForeFlight issue. I use Garmin Pilot and when I'm within the 60 nm ring, it shows up as an airspace alert for the WASH DC VFR SPEED RESTRICTION. ForeFlight shows it as a TFR.
     
  35. John Collins

    John Collins Pattern Altitude

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    If you remain clear of the 60 NM circle around DCA VORTAC, you are fine. The VFR speed restriction won't come into play for a C172, but there is also a requirement for having completed the Special Awareness Training inside the 60 Nm radius that would apply to anyone operating VFR. The course is free and can be accomplished on line. It is required by 91.161 if you fly inside the 60 NM area and included in the text of the TFR ZDC 0/0053 which is the TFR for the Washington DC SFRA area.
     
  36. Paul V

    Paul V Pre-Flight

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  37. John Collins

    John Collins Pattern Altitude

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    That is not accurate. I just tested Garmin Pilot on the internet and it depicts the airspace identical to the way ForeFlight does.
     
  38. Paul V

    Paul V Pre-Flight

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    I fly into the SFRA from NY every few weeks. Not once has Garmin Pilot shown the 60 NM ring as a TFR. It only shows the 30 NM ring and the FRZ as TFRs.

    The issue isn't on the ground when getting data via the internet. The issue is that in the air, when ForeFlight receives its data from ADSB towers, it shows the 60 NM ring as a TFR. Garmin Pilot (at least in my experience) does not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
  39. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I saw the speed ring depicted as a TFR years ago (2013 or so?) on one or two panel-mounted EFIS displays, so it's definitely not ForeFlight-specific. My first experience was much like the OP's, where I landed and called to see what the deal was before heading back home.
     
  40. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Having an instrument rating is good education, but things are much easier operating VFR around the Washington DC SFRA/FRZ.