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FlyingMonkey

Flight Following

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Ed,

Why is it an old habit? With only one radio I find it kinda hard to monitor 121.5 when 99% of my flights are with flight following, which is typically what I do when flying my 172.

Why not ask a question and wait for an answer?

 

99% of your flights use flight following? Is that because you are in the KCHA Class C and you just get it before departure, or do you do a lot of cross country flying? I have never used flight following, but plan to do so when I start taking longer cross country flights

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I could definitely see that going to PDK...one of the busiest Class D airports in the country. I just have no experience with flight following; I know the procedure and the advantages, but so far 95% of my flying is to uncontrolled airports within 50nm, the rest to AHN and LZU also on my doorstep. I have some trips planned to Florida and might try to fly to one of the nearby airports for Oshkosh, will definitely need it then.

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99% of your flights use flight following? Is that because you are in the KCHA Class C and you just get it before departure, or do you do a lot of cross country flying? I have never used flight following, but plan to do so when I start taking longer cross country flights

 

Andy,

Both. Even if I take a run to local airport such as 2A0, KDNN, KFGU I am talking to Chattanooga until the airport I am going to is in sight. Always nice to have another set of eyes looking at you and if there ever us an issue all you have to do is key the mike. Somebody is waiting!

My last 4 trips

KCHA-GA2- Williamson,Ga

KCHA-3MY - Peoria,IL

KCHA-KFFA-Kitty Hawk

KCHA-KCDW-Caldwell,NJ

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Andy, try to take a flight with the sole purpose of contacting Flight Following and jump in the water. Doesn't have to be a long X country trip. The people you will talk to are ready and willing to provide this service. There is one Class D airport where I fly that sometimes offers to transfer me over to FF on takeoff as a courtesy (or maybe they do this after they see my takeoff? :o). Once you do this, you'll be very glad you did. FF is a tremendous asset. It's as close as we can come to having ADS-B without having the equipment. Not sure if you're going to use a very busy ATC? If so, try to ask around to see if there's a slack time in air traffic when you can try this. Be ready to go to a dedicated squawk code. Some of the large/busy ATC's may also give a vectored heading and altitude to maintain. The cool thing about this is you can look up your flight path later on one of the flight tracker websites like Flighaware.com.

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Feel better soon.

 

I'm also available as a safety pilot if you ever want company when fooling around with flight following.

 

I may put together a post as to my flight following procedures and use.

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Pretty much the same in our local class D. If I go to one of the practice areas they keep track of me, but I don't consider this flight following since there is no request for it. ??

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I have heard that many times here. I suspect local ATC then hands you off to the next ATC.

ATC always follows me to the edge of the TRSA then tells me that I am leaving the TRSA, to squawk VFR and " frequency change is approved."

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In my CT I don't use VFR radar services very frequently yet I did so routinely in my Skyhawk. When flying the CT I tend to avoid traffic more by flying in the mountains instead of over the valley.

 

The hardest thing about using these services was always controlling my passengers who would always speak as ATC called to hand me off to the next agency. California's central valley can mean a hand off every 15 minutes so it does present workload. Flight following can make things easy with hand offs and vectors but if your not paying attention they can suddenly cancel and there you are in a busy congested area and deviated from your flight plan. Today with GPS its not as complicated as it was when we were zig-zagging from VOR to VOR.

 

With a single radio the flow is different, keep your previous frequency until you know you contacted the new agency successfully.

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As promised, and probably as good a place as any…

 

First, a caveat - my way is not the only way, nor even the best way or even the right way to get flight following. It's Fast Eddie's way. It may differ from region to region and a lot may depend on local controllers and how busy they are - or aren’t.

 

Let’s say I take off from Copperhill, headed to points north and want flight following. I know the Center frequency is 133.1 for this sector - if you don’t know it most of our GPS’s and flight planning software should be able to tell you the nearest ARTCC.

 

My first call would be,

 

“Atlanta Center, (Experimental) Sky Arrow 467SA, 8 miles northwest of Harris VOR, 5,500, VFR request”.

 

One might make a case to continue the transmission with all the pertinent information, and that’s fine. I have just found that about half of the time the controller is not ready, and will tell me to standby, or will give me a different frequency, and I have to repeat the whole thing anyway.

 

If you did want to give the whole spiel up front, just add, instead of VFR request, “…request flight following to (wherever you’re going, including the identifier)”.

 

The reason I say VFR request is so the controller won’t be looking for an IFR strip on me, and gives him or her a chance to either get ready to copy or to tell me if he or she is too busy to handle me - remember, its a service provided only on a "workload permitting" basis.

 

Anyway, typically the controller will say "VFR aircraft calling, standby" or "VFR aircraft calling, squawk xxxx and ident" or whatever. They will often ask you to advise of any change in altitude.

 

In unfamiliar locales, the response may often be something like…

 

“Aircraft calling with the VFR request, at that altitude northwest of Harris give Knoxville approach a call on 125.2”.

 

So, all you need to do initially is announce who you are, where you are and your altitude, followed by what you want, or just “VFR request”.

 

 

 

Sometimes I use flight following, sometimes I don’t.

 

Good reasons to use it are…

 

1) Traffic alerts. Of course, one should still be vigilant in visually looking for traffic. And midairs are way, way down on the list of risks to a pilot. But still, it can’t hurt.

 

2) ATC knows exactly where you are. Though there’s little they can do to help you in an emergency, if for some reason you cannot transmit they can still follow your return to the landing site and get rescue on the way quickly. Could be the difference between life and death if you’re injured in the process. In any case, you won’t have to waste time and attention fumbling to switch to 121.5 to declare.

 

3) They may (or may not) be able to inform you about the status of MOA’s on your route. I have found they often cannot or will not and a check with FSS is still required.

 

4) If there’s other airspace concerns (Class B, for example), you’re already on a good frequency to get a clearance.

 

5) If there's a national emergency, like 9/11, you'll know about it right away, along with instructions on how to get down as quickly as possible.

 

 

If I don’t use flight following, its often because I just want to stay low, follow a road or a river or the coast, and not have to worry about talking to anyone or having to listen to all the chatter on the frequency. Sometimes its nice just to fly along on my own and listen to music or my own thoughts. I do always monitor 121.5 if not talking to anyone else, re: #5 above.

 

Obviously, far better reasons to use flight following than not to, but there you have it.

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I suppose things can get a little crazy in the big airports in California but Flight Following has never dropped me due to workloads in Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Indianapolis and even in the Chicago O'hare airspace. Maybe I've been lucky to have asked for guidance at opportune times or got agreeable ATC personnel. At O'hare, they just told us to stay below their airspace and about 2 miles out in Lake Michigan. Great sightseeing of the Chicago skyline as we cruised up to Leading Edge Airfoils's shop in Wisconsin. Occasionally, ATC would call us to inform us of aircraft that were in our vicinity as a courtesy. I've had some really nice X-country trips using the system, knowing someone was watching out for me. For the Wisconsin trip, we received FF from Detroit all the way past Chicago just by making one call to Detroit at the start of our trip. As Eddie and MovingOn says, we just told Detroit where we were, were we wanted to go ("to Waukegan following the Lake Michigan shoreline") and that we'd be flying VFR and requested FF. Believe we were handed off to Lansing, Ft. Wayne and then Chicago. Here's what the Chicago skyline looked like:

post-24-0-38399700-1387678523_thumb.jpgpost-24-0-31939500-1387678524_thumb.jpgpost-24-0-35954500-1387678522_thumb.jpg

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This is a different exchange out here in the West. Approach is not contacted until you are 20mi or so from the airport. If you are taking off from one airport and the ATC controlled airport is closer than 20mi then adjust for that distance once at altitude and able to est initial radio contact. The call would be:

 

You: NorCal Approach, Cessna Skycatcher (if you really need to tell them the model but they dont care) 012WZ 20 miles West @ 7500 touch and go with Whiskey (you contacted ATIS to get this before the call)

 

ATC: Cessna 012WZ, NorCal Approach squawk 1234 with ident

 

You: Squawk 1234 (no need to say ident because you will ident and they will see you flashing), Cessna 012WZ

 

ATC: Cessna 012WZ, radar contact, expect runway XX, contact 119.25 (tower freq of the airport)

 

You: Expect runway XX, contact 119.25, Cessna 012WZu

 

 

What is your process to get flight following departing a non controlled field "Out West" cause it's so different.

 

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What is your process to get flight following departing a non controlled field "Out West" cause it's so different.

 

I don't think it is different. If I have line of sight I make a call like: 'Fresno approach, FD102CT is just off the ground at Chandler, landing Mammoth Yosemite' and that would get me radar services through Fresno's Class Charlie and then 1/2 way home till I loose line of sight.

 

Otherwise I might have to fly an hour before I can get ATC and in that case I call the first controller I can raise, often it will be Oakland Center.

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Admin... can you move part of a thread?

This one has taken an interesting and worthwhile turn but is no longer about portable antennas.

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What happens when you are handed off to the next in line?

 

After being handed off to next in line the radar services are provided until you are handed off again. If there is no traffic at issue then there will likely be 2 exchanges, the first 'with you' and the 2nd 'contact xxx on yy.yy' as you are handed off yet again.

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I suppose things can get a little crazy in the big airports in California but Flight Following has never dropped me due to workloads in Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Indianapolis and even in the Chicago O'hare airspace...

 

I have been cancelled after approach vectored me around then suddenly on my own navigation and I had to find 1 or more radials that I wasn't even tuned to in order resume my own nav. I also have been inbound into the Bay area expecting a hand-off to the tower but just get cancelled in a busy unfamiliar airspace instead.

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In the southeast, being told that the handoff to the next controller could not be effected is not that uncommon.

 

In that case, they just drop you. Sometimes, but not always, they'll suggest a frequency to try down the road.

 

Remember, it's always "workload permitting" and flight following VFR aircraft is not their highest priority.

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I fly Florida to New York and back most years (summer too hot in Fl) and sometimes are offered FF from the get go by the tower. Several times been given an "unable at this time" by Jax, seldom if ever any place else.

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I use flight follow most of the time. Even local ops. I call up the local approach control and they give me a code and they keep me informed about local traffic.. For cross country flights I've noted the East and mid West are not as friendly as the West. The Northwest (Seattle Center) is the best. I think it's because of all the mountains we have and less traffic. I was flying back from the Reno air races between Burns OR and Richland WA and Seattle Center called me and said out of he blue "how ya doing". There were thunderstorms in the area and they wanted to make sure I was aware. I told them I was diverting around the storms to the west and got a "roger" from them. The service is there so why not use it?

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