Pilot's tip of the week

VFR Flight Plan

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Subscriber question:

"On VFR cross country flights, flight following alerts me to other aircraft, watches for unexpected disappearance from radar and can provide heading corrections. Can you comment on what a VFR flight plan accomplishes that flight following does not? "
- Anonymous

Bob:

“If you were on an active VFR flight plan, which you would normally cancel on the ground – if you failed to cancel, somebody would be looking for you (including Search and Rescue if needed). This would be the key advantage of filing that VFR flight plan.

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While flight following is valuable, it frequently is not continuous. The reason for this is that while flying VFR, ATC provides flight following on a workload permitting basis. If ATC is too busy, they will drop you. You frequently experience this when it is time for a handoff and the next controller can’t take the handoff and you are told radar service is terminated, squawk 1200.

At other times you may be terminated because you are too low for radar coverage, or you may be terminated as you approach a non-towered airport.

In the above situations, you will be on your own once radar service is terminated.”

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