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3 Answers

How much weather assistance to expect on vfr flight following

Asked by: 4615 views General Aviation

Is it ok to ask for weather information while on flight following.  Specifically, en-route ceiling, current and forecast info would be interesting. 

If your answer is to contact Flight Watch, how would you do that?  Would you tell ATC that you are going off frequency and then contact Flight Watch?


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3 Answers

  1. Sam Dawson on Dec 01, 2013

    Yes, you can go off frequency to contact FSS or flight watch- just tell ATC first what you are doing.
    Some ATCs can give you this information. Ask Atlanta Approach to do this during “rush hour”, however, and they may get a little frustrated with you.
    If you have two radios you can listen to weather (ASOS, AWOS, ATIS etc), on the other frequency.
    Also if you have two radios you may get to the point where you feel comfortable talking to ATC and flight watch/FSS at the same time on different frequencies.

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  2. Heather McNevin on Dec 01, 2013

    While getting flight following from an ARTCC, you will be told about convective activity along your route of flight but generally nothing else unless you specifically ask. TRACONs have more accurate weather displayed on the scope than ARTCCs do. At the center, I only see moderate or greater precip. So by the time I see something, that may already be a place you don’t want to be. At the sector, I do not have access to TAFs, but can pull up local AWOS / ASOS readings but they are updated about every 70 minutes, so anything you pull up enroute will likely be more current than what I have access to. The best bet would be to contact EFAS (enroute flight advisory service) Flight watch on 122.0. That works anywhere in the country, generally a few thousand feet AGL and higher (nearly everywhere by 5,000 AGL) up to FL180. Address them by the centers name you are flying through, like Minneapolis Flight Watch or Chicago Flight Watch. The higher your altitude, the more receivers you may activate, so be sure to say roughly where you are so the specialist can select the appropriate transmitter to talk to you. If you don’t get a reply right away, be patient, as they talk to a lot of pilots. 122.0 is only for weather, if you have other needs, direct your call to a specific FSS on a discrete frequency. If you do want to check weather, just ask the controller if its ok to go off frequency for a few minutes to do that. Usually it is no problem but you may be instructed to stay on frequency for an upcoming traffic call or may be given another frequency to check in on your return. DO NOT JUST DISAPPEAR. We spend many hours each day looking for people that go off freq for one reason or another. Ask the controller first and there should be no problem.

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  3. Todd on Dec 01, 2013

    Wow. Thanks for your generous responses. The ‘system’ works because of people like you.

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