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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:31 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:35 am
Posts: 39
Location: SF Bay Area, California
OK, here's a question for anyone who flies in busier airspace. What's the best way to open a VFR flight plan when taking off out of a Class B, C or D (under B/C) airport when you're going to take off with flight following.

It's not exactly practical to switch to the nearest FSS frequency while dealing with Departure or Tower to Tower hand offs.

Call 800 WX-BRIEF just before engine start and ask them to open? Ask ground to open? Clearance Delivery (if available)? Ask for a frequency change once out of the busiest areas? Any other ideas?

-Landis


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:56 am 
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Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 9:35 pm
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Class D is a 5 statute mile radius, correct? You will be out of their airspace in a very short time. Open with flight service after clearing the D airspace, or after the controllers clear you off their frequency.

Class B and Class C both effectively operate the same way. First a couple of questions. What is the purpose of filing a flight plan? Search and rescue, correct? Are you not in radar contact and talking to a controller in both Class B and Class C? Would they not know immediately if you were having a problem?

Bottom line is that there is no hurry to open a flight plan while in radar contact and talking to the controllers. When they clear you off their frequency, then you can go ahead and open the flight plan with flight service.

The downside to opening with flight service on the ground is that you really only have a wild guess as to when you will actually lift off. You COULD do that if you want and update your off time with FSS but there really is no need to open on the ground.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:06 pm 
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I fly out of a Class D under a Bravo shelf, adjacent to Charlie airspace. I normally request a frequency change after clearing the immediate airport vicinity but before I'm clear of the Delta airspace. .

The call is: "Republic Tower, Cessna One Two Alpha requesting frequency change to contact Flight Service" and they either comeback with "One Two Alpha, frequency change approved. Have a nice day" or "Negative One Two Alpha. Traffic in your vicinity. Will advise when able"

As far as search & rescue is concerned; remember that a VFR flight plan with Flight Service is the only way to get Civil Air Patrol in the air looking for you. Flight Following from approach/departure control is only radar separation service-- If your blip falls off their screen, and they have no reason to suspect an emergency, there is nothing they can do.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:37 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:35 am
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Location: SF Bay Area, California
I was specifically talking about a Class D under a B/C where one will require flight following to continue their flight. As well, I'd like to continue with flight following upon departure and can ask for a frequency change but don't usually get out of the congested area for 15-20 minutes after takeoff. Of course we can note our departure time and when we get a chance to switch frequencies open the flight plan then and tell FSS the ATD. But the question is what's the best way to open the flight plan? Is this it? Would opening on the ground by phone be better? Asking ground when you're done with the run up and before you switch to tower? Just curious how others do it and whether there are more ways in practice than the frequency switch when out of the area.

Greg Bockelman wrote:
What is the purpose of filing a flight plan? Search and rescue, correct? Are you not in radar contact and talking to a controller in both Class B and Class C? Would they not know immediately if you were having a problem?


Please be careful with this one. I've heard a number of people say that they don't bother filing and opening VFR flight plans because they'll just get flight following. And then you hear something like this on the frequency:

"N1234, Approach?"
"N1234, Approach, how do you hear?"
"N1234, RADAR contact lost, squawk VFR, have a good day."

N1234 just disappeared off the scope, isn't responding to calls, and the controller has other things to do. I hear this or something like this somewhat often. No search and rescue resources will be looking for this airplane unless someone else reports it missing hours or even days later.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:41 pm 
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I never said don't file a flight plan. All I was saying is that from the time you take off til the time you get turned loose you are under radar control and it just isn't that time critical to get the VFR flight plan opened.

If you are going to continue with flight following, once the terminal radar folks hand you off to enroute, ask THEM for a temporary leave from frequency to open your flight plan.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:40 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:42 pm
Posts: 466
Location: San Francisco, California
Hi all,

A couple of thoughts. It doesn't sound like you have a ground frequency for your airport, but for other pilots out there, often at busier airports, FSS will have a ground frequency that you can switch to before calling tower to take off.

I absolutely agree, always file a flight plan. And so yes, you have two options. I don't know if one or the other is better, just depends on what you are comfortable with. A new pilot might find it better workload management to open it on the ground, just make sure you have factored in the time to get airborne. Personally, I teach and prefer to get out of the busy airspace and then request frequency change.

:)


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