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3 Answers

VFR traffic advisories/Flight following question

Asked by: 1893 views ,
Airspace, FAA Regulations, General Aviation, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

The only times I've used flight following have been on my cross country flights from one airport to another. If I wanted to depart from my home airport, fly somewhere for a little sightseeing/maneuvering, and then fly back home, could I ask for radar services from approach control?  and what would be the proper way to make that request?

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3 Answers

  1. John D Collins on Aug 23, 2015

    Sure. Just let the controller know your intentions. On occasion, I have asked for flight following while practicing maneuvers.

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  2. Russ Roslewski on Aug 23, 2015

    This is the type of thing that it’s easy to overthink. Just tell the controller what you want to do. They handle this type of thing all the time.

    I’d like to circle 5 nm west of airport XYZ at 3500 feet.
    I need to proceed over downtown, then out to the lake, then over highway 95.

    Just plain English, no special terminology.

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  3. Heather McNevin on Aug 24, 2015

    This is a great use of flight following! It is a common misunderstanding that you need to be going somewhere to get radar advisories. I really like the idea of getting them if you are out practicing maneuvers, as you are already task saturated and another set of eyes helping with traffic is always a good thing. The minimum information needed is your full callsign, type of aircraft with equipment suffix, and where you are going or what you are doing. In this case, I’d say maneuvering 15 miles southeast of the ABC airport (you get the idea). The biggest challenge I see when I give VFR advisories is that they don’t understand the difference between type of aircraft and equipment suffix. The type is what you are flying (skyhawk, cherokee, etc.) I’d recommend just saying C172 or PA28 as there are quite a few controllers who are not pilots and it is also one less thing for them to think about and translate to put into the computer. The equipment suffix is basically “how are you navigating?” I want to know if I can ask you to “say DME from”, if you don’t have DME, I can’t! There is a chart in the AIM to help you. I am a big advocate of standard phraseology when possible, as this reduces confusion, however if you are unsure how to say something, just speak English, we all understand! The big things are be brief and be responsive (don’t stop listening to us, please!). If you have the time, I’d recommend finding the number to your local ATC facility (The AFD or FSS can help) and go visit! Things are always much less intimidating after you’ve had a chance to see the operation and talk with the controllers.

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