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2 Answers

Practice Flight with Approaches and Pattern Work

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Airspace, FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor, General Aviation, Instrument Rating, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

I am instrument rated and would like to plan a practice flight in VMC that combines both approaches and some touch and goes in the pattern at multiple airports.

I'm thinking it would be best to go VFR with flight following and just request the approaches and pattern work as needed. My reasoning is this would give me the most flexibility and not tie up the airspace for actual IFR traffic. I understand ATC may not always be able to accomodate my requests.

What is the best way to handle this with ATC and be courteous to fellow pilots?


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2 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Bob Watson on Apr 05, 2013

    I’m not sure how universal this is, but up here in the Pacific NW, we can ask for practice instrument approaches in VMC to do just what you’re describing. It’s somewhere between just plain VFR flight following and an IFR flight plan. Basically, they handle you just like IFR traffic but without the IFR flight plan and all that comes with it. This way, you’re flight is coordinated with any the other IFR traffic, so you don’t have to worry about inadvertently sharing the ILS with someone, but you don’t need instrument currency to fly it. It’s up to you to accept any clearance they give you (so you have to make sure what they tell you won’t put you into a cloud) and the controller might advise you to maintain VMC. It’s a great way to get some practice with a safety pilot and from what I understand, they’d rather be talking to you the whole time than not. As you point out, they’ll do this on a space-available basis, so you might try for a non-busy day or at night.

    If you want to do pattern work after an approach, be sure to coordinate that with the controller in advance. They’ll need to know what you plan to do after the approach so they can have the next leg ready for you or give that space to someone else while you do some touch and goes.

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  2. mmosier1 on Apr 06, 2013

    I made this practice flight today and everything worked as expected. Went VFR with flight following. ATC helped with approaches and just told me call them back when finished with pattern work. As usual…. just ask for what you want with ATC and if possible they will help you out.

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