VFR flight plans

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Wrench978, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Wrench978

    Wrench978 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do you file a flight plan for VFR? I'm studying the PHAK and it mentions filing a flight plan when flying VFR. It seems like flight following accomplishes what a VFR flight plan does, as far as giving emergency personnel a place to search if something happens.
     
  2. JoeSelch

    JoeSelch Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Only when it's required.
     
  3. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Flight plans are used, if you think the controller could drop you,or not be able to complete a hand off.
     
  4. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Nope, unless it's for DC or international, for VFR I just use flight following or nothing at all.

    ...and nine times out of ten if it's for DC or international I just go IFR anyway.
     
  5. Wrench978

    Wrench978 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When is it required? PHAK said its not, it didn't mention any times it would be.

    That makes sense. So mostly through busy airspace? Or
     
  6. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I haven't filed a VFR flight plan since my solo x countries. I'll usually just get FF if I'm going on a cross country
     
  7. Gucci Pilot

    Gucci Pilot Pattern Altitude

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    Never filed a VFR flight plan
     
  8. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    DC SFRA and international flights.
     
  9. Pedals2Paddles

    Pedals2Paddles Cleared for Takeoff

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    I generally don't. Even if not using FF, I'm usually in an area populated enough that finding my busted up plane in a tree won't be a problem. There will be plenty of witnesses calling 911 long before Flight Service notices me missing.

    If I were going to be in unpopulated or mountainous area, sure.
     
  10. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    As mentioned, DC SFRA as well as border-crossing flights (even if you're only going through Canada and not landing there), as well as Security TFR's like when the President goes visiting.
     
  11. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    For work, nope. They track me. For personal flying, nope. I use FF. Just did a 275 mile XC over the weekend and was covered on both legs.
     
  12. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If you're planning a 600 NM leg over desolate, unpopulated terrain then yes I'd say a flight plan adds value. Short of that, I can't see doing it.
     
  13. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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    I haven't, but I don't go very far...
     
  14. FlySince9

    FlySince9 En-Route

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    let someone know where I'm going, if less that 100 miles//FPL and FF otherwise
     
  15. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    I use flight following extensively and very rarely file VFR flight plans any more. Most of my VFR filings are when I expect to be out of radar coverage for extended distances.

    Our system of opening and closing VFR flight plans is cumbersome and archaic. The pilot should not have to put everything else on hold and go off to an otherwise useless frequency for several minutes for such a simple task. That's a hassle, especially in busy airspace. Sure, one could always make the phone call on the ground after landing, tiedown, unloading, fuel, potty, getting the rental car ... oh dang it, I forgot again! :mad2:

    If towers could at least close VFR flight plans on request, I'd probably file VFR a lot more.
     
  16. eetrojan

    eetrojan Pattern Altitude

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    In my opinion, your instructor should have you routinely use VFR flight plans while you're training. You'll quickly learn how it works and all of the different ways to file, open, and close your flight plan.

    That way, you can make an informed decision on when to use it after you have your PPL.
     
  17. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The sole purpose of a VFR flight plan is search-and-rescue. By filing, you give your planned route and your ETE. FSS adds time enroute to departure (or flight plan opening time) and comes up with estimated time of arrival. If you do not arrive within 30 minutes of that calculated ETA they begin to call airports along your route to see if you landed without closing your flight plan. If that comes up empty, they get the USAF into the act. Read AIM 6-2-1 and the following sections. The obvious drawback is that you could be bleeding out in the wreckage while FSS waits for 30 minutes plus.

    With flight following, you are in (almost) constant contact with a controller who can see your data block on the scope and can react immediately if you say "Buzzbomb 345X is declaring an emergency (followed by details if you have time). I say "almost" because it is workload limited and a busy controller can cut you loose at any time. I have never had any trouble asking a controller for the frequency of the next sector, which might be ten minutes down the road, and reconnecting after that time. You will be vulnerable during that ten minutes, but your datablock will still be on the scope and if you squawk 7700 you will get all kinds of help.

    FAA knowledge exams and publications assume that every pilot will file a VFR flight plan when in reality only a minority do so.

    Bob Gardner
    SAY AGAIN, PLEASE
     
  18. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    You are way behind the curve. These days, using 1800wxbrief.com you can file online, open your flight plan by clicking on a text, close your flight plan by clicking on a text, etc etc. That's only a tiny slice of what LockMart is doing these days.

    Bob Gardner
     
  19. bullwinkle

    bullwinkle Pattern Altitude

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    Me either, I bought a GPS-enabled 406MHz PLB instead.
     
  20. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Yep,

    Al la FltPlan.com
     
  21. eetrojan

    eetrojan Pattern Altitude

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    What do you think about opening a VFR flight plan and using flight following?
     
  22. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    I hear that a lot lately. :rolleyes2:
     
  23. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Well it gives the Departure point, ETE and how much fuel you have. The S&R procedure doesn't really take into account your route. They look for you anywhere within the available fuel burn of the last time/place you were spotted.

    Having had a few engine failures, I'm not waiting for a VFR flight plan to kick in. I'm going to be talking to someone who knows where and who I am if I push the button for help.

    Note that an IFR flight plan is no guarantee of anything either. Unlike a VFR plan that springs into S&R mode when not closed, an IFR plan closes by itself unless the controller notices the plane didn't make it. There was an unfortunate incident a while back where a guy went off to the CTAF even commenting that he'd likely be back on the missed given the conditions. He didn't make it, and he didn't close but ATC forgot about him and nobody noticed until the next day.

    It helps to always have some non-FAA person knowing you were flying as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2015
  24. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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  25. deyoung

    deyoung Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I use Garmin Pilot all the time, and you can open (and presumably close) a flight plan directly from it too. I haven't used Foreflight but I'd be astonished if you can't do it with that also.

    I say presumably because I'll admit that I'm one of those who never files VFR flight plans, though I am always on flight following if I'm going beyond my local airport's departure control area. I should probably do it a few times just to be sure I know how it works. :)

    Well, more information about where you expect to be can't hurt, so if you want to I don't see any reason not to. I doubt the flight plan adds much though (except that you have to remember to close it), unless you're going to be out of radar coverage a fair bit. In that case it would be worthwhile, but it doesn't really match your question, since you'd be dropped from flight following anyway if they can't see you.
     
  26. 4CornerFlyer

    4CornerFlyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Guess I'm in the minority on Pilots of America, but I file a VFR flight plan on almost every flight out of the vicinity of my local airport. Cost is nothing, and while not perfect, doing so does improve the odds of successful search and rescue.
    Jon
     
  27. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    I wonder if filing a VFR flight plan, but never opening it, would be a help in S&R.
     
  28. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    An IFR plan does not close by itself, that controller screwed up.
     
  29. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Fine with me. Just don't forget to close your VFR flight plan.

    Bob
     
  30. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I've flown a lot of searches, Ron, and the initial search is along the flight planned route (if a flight plan was filed). Too many times, the pilot decided to diverge from the planned route but didn't tell FSS....and the wreckage was found many miles from the filed route.

    Bob Gardner
     
  31. Wrench978

    Wrench978 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the input everyone! It sounds like it's something definitely worth getting familiar with, even if it's not used often.
     
  32. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Cleared for Takeoff

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    At our last EAA chapter 172 meeting we had two of the controllers from KAGS make a presentation. I asked the controllers if it made their job any easier for a plane to have a VFR flight plan or harder if no VFR flight plan. They said it made no difference to them. They have to manually put you in the system either way. As Bob pointed out in his post, it does provide additional information for search and rescue if needed. I fly back and forth to work each week. As soon as I'm up and out of the pattern at my home non-towered airport, I call my nearby Approach and pickup flight following. The controllers said they appreciated pilots using flight following so they know where you are and what type plane you are flying. They hate having to report a traffic advisory with type and altitude unknown. I can't remember the last time I filed a VFR flight plan but always get flight following. On my trip to work I get passed between two ATC towers then cancel FF when my destination airport is in sight, then switch to CTAF. On the return trip back home, my departure airport is about 20 nm away from my local Approach Control region of responsibility. I usually just wait until I know I'm in their area of responsibility before calling for FF. I suppose I have some risk during that time period if a problem developed. I guess I really should call the controlling ATC and get FF and let them pass me off, but it just seems like an extra hassle while I'm climbing to altitude, trimming the plane and leaning the engine. By the time I do all of that I'm already in my local ATC area.

    Bottom line, I don't file VFR flight plans but I do take advantage of flight following.
     
  33. NickC99

    NickC99 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you have ForeFlight and mobile data, there's no need to call FSS. You can file, amend, activate and close VFR flight plans in ForeFlight as long as they're filed via LMFS. I've done it, and it's very easy to do. Just hit Activate before takeoff (if you have mobile service). The plan is also sync'd to your devices, so you can activate or close from iPad or iPhone.

    If you use an ICAO plan, it automatically gets sent directly to LMFS.
    If you use an FAA/Domestic plan, you need to be sure you're logged out of DUATS in ForeFlight so it gets filed with LMFS. If it's filed through DUATS, you cannot activate and close in ForeFlight

    http://cloudfront.foreflight.com/docs/ff/6.0/v6.0 - filing with foreflight mobile.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2015