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VFR Flight Following -- What's going on here?



 
 
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  #21  
Old June 20th 05, 11:28 PM
Chris G.
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Without wanting to generate a whole different thread, since it sounds
like my issue was probably discussed, but if I went NORDO while
utilizing ATC services, the first thing I would do (per AIM) is squawk
7600. If not under ATC surveillance and not in contact with them, then
I'd likely leave it at 1200, unless I needed to land at a controlled
field somewhere.

Aside from that, I totally agree with what you say!

Chris


Ben Hallert wrote:
Good story, and some valuable information there and in the responses.

Flight Following is a great service, and I'll do everything I can to
make Joe Controller's day easier when he's giving me this. I had a
thread a couple weeks ago asking about what to do if you go NORDO when
on FF, and the general consensus was to squawk 1200. Very compatible
with what people have suggested here, even thought I know it would eat
at me the whole time until I got down that the controller might think I
just 'dissed' him by dropping off frequency and FF. I figure that
the more pleasant experiences Joe Controller has with us VFR weenies,
the more likely he'll be to accept FF handoffs and keep an eye on us.
The traffic watch is really only a fraction of the value I get out of
it: knowing that I've got someone on-frequency who knows exactly where
I am already if I have to declare an emergency means that I can spend
just that much more time troubleshooting my problem instead of trying
to give an intelligible location for SAR to use when they're trying to
find my flaming wreckage.

Using fligh****ch to get a message to those guys sounds like another
good tip to add to the book, I'll have to remember that.

Ads
  #22  
Old June 20th 05, 11:51 PM
Margy
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Jay Honeck wrote:
On the first leg of our flight to Washington, D.C., we only made it as
far as Rantoul, Illinois, due to thunderstorms. We were utilizing VFR
flight following, starting with Cedar Rapids Approach (CID)and being
progressively handed off until we were talking to Chicago Center.

As we approached Rantoul, we had to divert around a cell. At that
point I told Center I needed to leave the frequency to check with
Flight Watch, which was approved.

While talking with Flight Watch (and getting the bad news that the
weather was falling apart pretty much everywhere) we dropped down to
2500 feet, and then down to 2000 to get beneath a thickening layer of
clouds.

After completing our weather briefing, we switched back to Chicago's
frequency, but were no longer able to communicate with Chicago Center.
I heard them call me once, but they were unable to hear my response,
probably because we were too low.

We zigged and zagged a bit until we decided to throw in the towel and
land for the night in Rantoul. I tried Chicago Center one more time,
heard no response, and switched to Unicom and landed.

After landing (and finding no one at the airport) we started
fruitlessly calling cab companies (no answer) and hotels (no shuttle
service). About the time we were going to walk to the nearest hotel
(about a mile away) a car pulled around the corner with a flashing
yellow light on top.

It turned out to be the airport manager, who had been called at home by
Chicago Center. They asked him to contact me, so he drove out to the
airport and told me that "Center wants to talk to you."

He was under the impression that I had not closed a flight plan, and
was quite surprised when we told him that we didn't *have* a flight
plan filed. Nevertheless, I called the number, spoke with the Head
Cheese at Chicago Center, and told him what had happened. He fully
understood the situation, and thanked me for calling.

So what's going on here? Usually Chicago Center's version of "Flight
Following" (if you can get it) is so casual, and so begrudgingly
offered, that I hardly consider it to be of any service whatsoever --
yet on this particular flight they were tracking our progress all the
way to the ground?

In the end, it was a terrific turn of events, as the airport manager
opened the FBO and got us the keys to a courtesy car, and then led us
over to the hotel. (He even invited us to stop at a bar with him,
which we declined...) Still, it's had us wondering ever since why
Chicago Center was so concerned that they dispatched the airport
manager to go looking for us.

Were they just concerned with our well-being in the bad weather? Did
our zigging and zagging -- and then dropping off their scopes -- look
like a plane in distress? Did something get scrambled in their
computers, making them believe that we had filed a flight plan? Is
there an FAR requiring us to cancel flight following?

Now that I think about it, I suppose we could have asked Flight Watch
to notify Chicago Center when we could no longer hear them, but frankly
it never dawned on me that Chicago really cared that much about what
happened outside of their Class B airspace.

How would *you* have handled it?
--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"

I would send cookies to Chicago Center and a "Thanks for keeping an eye
on us". Most likely a really good controller got concerned because of
the weather and the zigzag and just wanted to make sure you were there.
We once flew out of range and Washington relayed to other aircraft to
look call for us. We managed a relay back.

Margy
  #23  
Old June 21st 05, 12:14 AM
Steven P. McNicoll
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"Jay Honeck" wrote in message
ups.com...

On the first leg of our flight to Washington, D.C., we only made it as
far as Rantoul, Illinois, due to thunderstorms. We were utilizing VFR
flight following, starting with Cedar Rapids Approach (CID)and being
progressively handed off until we were talking to Chicago Center.

As we approached Rantoul, we had to divert around a cell. At that
point I told Center I needed to leave the frequency to check with
Flight Watch, which was approved.

While talking with Flight Watch (and getting the bad news that the
weather was falling apart pretty much everywhere) we dropped down to
2500 feet, and then down to 2000 to get beneath a thickening layer of
clouds.

After completing our weather briefing, we switched back to Chicago's
frequency, but were no longer able to communicate with Chicago Center.
I heard them call me once, but they were unable to hear my response,
probably because we were too low.

We zigged and zagged a bit until we decided to throw in the towel and
land for the night in Rantoul. I tried Chicago Center one more time,
heard no response, and switched to Unicom and landed.

After landing (and finding no one at the airport) we started
fruitlessly calling cab companies (no answer) and hotels (no shuttle
service). About the time we were going to walk to the nearest hotel
(about a mile away) a car pulled around the corner with a flashing
yellow light on top.

It turned out to be the airport manager, who had been called at home by
Chicago Center. They asked him to contact me, so he drove out to the
airport and told me that "Center wants to talk to you."

He was under the impression that I had not closed a flight plan, and
was quite surprised when we told him that we didn't *have* a flight
plan filed. Nevertheless, I called the number, spoke with the Head
Cheese at Chicago Center, and told him what had happened. He fully
understood the situation, and thanked me for calling.

So what's going on here? Usually Chicago Center's version of "Flight
Following" (if you can get it) is so casual, and so begrudgingly
offered, that I hardly consider it to be of any service whatsoever --
yet on this particular flight they were tracking our progress all the
way to the ground?


The closest ARSR is some 80 miles WNW near Peoria. It's possible they were
getting a feed on the CMI ASR which is about 16 miles WSW.



In the end, it was a terrific turn of events, as the airport manager
opened the FBO and got us the keys to a courtesy car, and then led us
over to the hotel. (He even invited us to stop at a bar with him,
which we declined...) Still, it's had us wondering ever since why
Chicago Center was so concerned that they dispatched the airport
manager to go looking for us.

Were they just concerned with our well-being in the bad weather? Did
our zigging and zagging -- and then dropping off their scopes -- look
like a plane in distress?


You'd have to ask the people involved for specifics. ATC is required to
initiate a search when there is an unexpected loss of radar contact and
radio communications with any IFR or VFR aircraft.



Did something get scrambled in their
computers, making them believe that we had filed a flight plan?


ATC wouldn't know if you had filed a flight plan, that's strictly FSS turf.



Is there an FAR requiring us to cancel flight following?


No.



Now that I think about it, I suppose we could have asked Flight Watch
to notify Chicago Center when we could no longer hear them, but frankly
it never dawned on me that Chicago really cared that much about what
happened outside of their Class B airspace.


Chicago Center doesn't have any Class B airspace.



How would *you* have handled it?


When I couldn't raise them I'd squawk 1200 and forget about it.


  #24  
Old June 21st 05, 12:17 AM
Steven P. McNicoll
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"Bob Gardner" wrote in message
...

The controller had every right to expect notification of some kind that
you were no longer on frequency.


If the reason he's no longer on the frequency is because he's descended too
low, just how is he supposed to get that notification to the controller?


  #25  
Old June 21st 05, 12:20 AM
Steven P. McNicoll
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"Jay Honeck" wrote in message
oups.com...

We use flight following on most flights in our area. The only time
it's ever a problem is around (the very busy airspace of) Chicago,
where (ironically) we could most use FF.

Usually Chicago won't accept a hand-off from adjacent controllers, and
if we try to request FF they will reply "unable." Not that it really
matters -- I have had airliners pop in front of me so close that I
could read their logo, without Chicago ATC ever saying "boo" about it.


What Chicago are you talking about? Your initial message dealt with Chicago
Center, now it sounds like you're talking about Chicago Approach.


  #26  
Old June 21st 05, 12:21 AM
Peter Clark
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On Mon, 20 Jun 2005 10:08:03 -0700, "Bob Gardner"
wrote:

The controller had every right to expect notification of some kind that you
were no longer on frequency.


They already told the controller they were going off-freq: " As we
approached Rantoul, we had to divert around a cell. At that point I
told Center I needed to leave the frequency to check with Flight
Watch, which was approved."
  #27  
Old June 21st 05, 12:23 AM
Steven P. McNicoll
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"Ron Natalie" wrote in message
...

I've had radar facilities chase me down after I've lost comms with them
during VFR FF. They want to make sure they didn't lose you and something
bad happened to you (like you crashed). Just consider it
an extra service.


It's not necessarily an extra service. If radio and radar contact is lost
in an area where ATC would expect to have both, then ATC is supposed to
chase you down.

http://www.faa.gov/atpubs/ATC/Chp10/atc1002.html#10-2-5


  #28  
Old June 21st 05, 12:23 AM
John Galban
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Chris G. wrote:
snip
the first thing I would do (per AIM) is squawk
7600. If not under ATC surveillance and not in contact with them, then
I'd likely leave it at 1200, unless I needed to land at a controlled
field somewhere.


You'd better need to land at that controlled field pretty badly
because you'll be busting the regs if you do that. Squawking 7600
doesn't relieve you of the requirement to establish two-way
communictions prior to entering a class D. Of course, if you're low
on fuel or there are no non-towered fields you could divert to, then
you can probably get away with it. If there are alternate airports,
the best thing to do is to land at one, call the towered airport and
get a clearance from them to enter the class D, then expect light
signals. If you're already in the class D when the radio dies, you're
OK. Just proceed and look for the lights.

John Galban=====N4BQ (PA28-180)

  #29  
Old June 21st 05, 12:25 AM
Steven P. McNicoll
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"tom pettit peak.org" tompetat wrote in message
...

Off topic, but related: Can a radar center offer flight following to a
plane not equipped with a transponder? I would guess no, but I'm curious.


Possible, but not practical. Some ARSR sites have only beacon
interrogators.


  #30  
Old June 21st 05, 12:29 AM
John Galban
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Jay Honeck wrote:
snippage
How would *you* have handled it?



What I do when this happens is to stay on the freq. an wait until
some airliner overhead talks to the controller (be it Center or
Approach). Then I ask him to relay a msg. to the controller that I'm
out of radio range and will squawk VFR. Wherever there's Center or
Approach coverage, I'm usually within line of sight of an airliner
overhead that is already talking to them.

If I get no luck on the relay, I'll squawk 1200 and call FSS on the
ground and ask them to pass the word that I dropped below radio range.

John Galban=====N4BQ (PA28-180)




--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"


 




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