Ep. 39: Requesting VFR Flight Following before Departure


Hi! Jon from fly8MA.com here. Today we’re going to look at how to get VFR
Flight Following on the ground at a Class Delta airport. So before you even depart the Class Delta
airport, you’ll already be in the system, and you’ll already have a squawk code assigned
to you, and they’ll give you a departure frequency. So all you’ll have to do after you take off
is flip over to that departure frequency, and then you’ll be talking to a departure
controller, approach controller, and they’ll be able to provide you with the VFR Flight
Following without you having to deal with trying to copy down a squawk code, and give
your destination, and all of those sorts of things while you’re in the air. So, let’s go ahead and jump right into it. Alright, now that we are sitting here, we’re
at NorthWest 24 holding short of Charlie in a non-movement area. We’re going to go ahead and get our ATC. Alright so our wind is [email protected], about ten statute miles of
visibility, no ceiling, at least below 12,000, altimeter setting 30.01, and runway 24 is
what we’ll expect to use. We can go over to the Clearance Delivery Frequency
at 121.6. What we’re going to do today is actually depart
from Ann Arbor and travel south to Wood County Airport on the bottom end of this chart, and
we will get VFR Flight Following from Detroit Approach Control, and actually be underneath
Detroit’s Class Bravo airspace. I’ll go ahead and ask for flight following
while we’re on the ground here so we don’t have to do it while we’re in the air. “Ann Arbor Ground, Skyhawk 38Y at NW Ts with
Sierra, VFR Southbound to Wood County airport request, VFR Flight Following.” “38Y, Ann Arbor Ground, Runway 24, Taxi via
Charlie Alpha, 3500.” “Taxi runway 24 via Charlie Alpha, and 3,500
on the altitude, 38Y.” “38Y What’s the destination airport you’re going to?” “Destination is Wood County 1G0.” Alright, that little double click there just
means she heard us. Our taxi clearance is to taxi runway 24 via
Charlie, link up with Alpha here, and taxi right there to Alpha 1. We’ll do a run-up and I’ll depart runway 24. “38Y, you can taxi runway 24 via Charlie Alpha,
I’ll get you the squawk code in a minute.” “24 via Charlie Alpha, and I’ll stand by for
the squawk code, 38Y.” At the intersection of Charlie and Alpha,
we’ll look, check, make sure that we’re clear and no one else is taxiing on alpha. “38Y you’re going to squawk 5205.” “Squawk 5205, 38Y.” So we have our squawk code at 5205. We can see this directional sign here that
tells us we are now on taxiway alpha. Alright, so our run-up is now complete. We’re going to go ahead and expect to talk
to Detroit on 118.95. We’ll have that dialed in there. It’s all set and ready to go. We’ll be asking for clearance to take off
from Ann Arbor Tower 120.3. We’ll go ahead and move this over. We have our checklist ready to go there. Pulling up to the hold short line, we’re holding
short of runway 24 at Alpha 1, and we have our aircraft turned so we can see the other
aircraft coming in on final. On our engine run-up, I’m going to go ahead
and do our before-takeoff-checklist. Our doors are closed and latched, our fuel
selector valve is set to both. Instruments still look good, we have good
oil pressure, good oil temperature. Our landing lights are on. Runway heading– we’ll check that out there
once we’re on the runway. We can go ahead and call for departure now. “Ann Arbor Tower, Skyhawk 1538Y, ready for
departure VFR southbound.” “38Y, Ann Arbor Tower, left turn, southbound
approved, runway 24, clear for takeoff, wind 260, gust 16.” “Clear for takeoff runway 24, left turn, southbound
approved, Skyhawk 1538Y.” We’ll slowly advance our throttle. Everything looks good. Advance full throttle and wait until we see
rotation speed. We have no wind so we won’t have any aileron
wind direction. And lower the nose as we clear obstacles to
VOI. Our left turn southbound, releasing a little
bit of right rudder pressure. I’m still using the right rudder, but just
a little less now that we’re in a left turn. “38Y contact Detroit on 1895.” “Detroit on 1895, 38Y, have a good one.” We got a frequency change over to Detroit,
and we’ll go ahead and give them a call now. Following our southbound heading, listening
to the frequency for a moment and nobody is talking, so we’re not going to cut anyone
off. “Detroit Approach, Skyhawk 1538Y, leaving
1700 for 3500.” “1538Y, Detroit Departure, ident please.” He asked us to ident, we’ll press our “ident”
button so that we’ll pop up on his radar screen so he sees where we’re at. “38Y, radar contact, one-half miles south
of Ann Arbor airport, maintain VFR metro 3002, what’s your requested altitude? ” 3002, maintain VFR, and requested altitude
tonight will be 3500, 38Y.” “38Y, Roger, you’re clear to enter route, proceed on course, maintain
VFR at 3500.” “Maintain VFR 3500, Cleared into Detroit Class
Bravo airspace, 1538Y. So make sure you always readback that you
have Class Bravo airspace clearance. So now, we’re talking to Detroit Departure,
or Detroit Approach (really the same person, we just call them different things), if we’re
leaving we call them “Departure”, if we’re coming in we call them “Approach.” If we’ve got VFR flight following down to
our destination 1G0, we are going to get radar traffic advisories work load permitting, so
not guaranteed that they’re going to tell you about every single little aircraft out
there, but they’ll tell you about the ones that they can depending upon their workload. Just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean that
they’re not busy. They may be working two stations, and may
be very busy at another station. We’ve got that clearance into the Class Bravo
at 3500. If we weren’t cleared into the Class Bravo
we would want to stay below that shelf at 3000 feet preferably. We don’t want to go 3400 and just be barely
underneath it. So, we’re cruising down to 1G0, we got VFR
flight following. Hopefully, this all made sense to you. If you have any questions, leave them in the
comments below. Thanks so much for watching guys. Remember, fly every day, and if not then fly8MA.com. See you all later.


46 Responses

  1. sewcrazed

    July 16, 2016 10:59 am

    Thank you for this. I'm a student in Flint who's freaked out by Detroit airspace. This helped relieve that anxiety.

  2. Houston Firefox

    July 16, 2016 6:43 pm

    Amazing how many mid-time pilots I know who are dumbfounded by picking up FF on the ground. Most are used to doing it once airborne. The local controllers around Houston Class Bravo would much rather you pick up flight following on the ground – gives everyone a heads-up prior to you departing. Great video!

  3. MotoWolf

    July 26, 2016 3:44 am

    I fly out of nearby Mettetal. If you wanted to get flight following out of an uncontrolled field, would you just contact departure on the ground and make a normal call mentioning you were on the ground?

  4. Michael Husken

    July 30, 2016 12:54 pm

    I just found your channel and subscribed. I'm originally from the Detroit area but currently living in Grand Prairie, TX. I am a student pilot with approximately 22 hours. I'm training in a Cessna 150.

  5. Jan Alicia Nettler

    August 1, 2016 3:00 am

    Interesting, but I found it a bit confusing. Who were you talking to? When were you talking to the tower and when with departure for flight following? I couldn't tell when you switched to the tower for take off instructions? And I was taught I shouldn't leave the tower frequency until out of Class D airspace!?

  6. vadermike777

    September 13, 2016 1:26 am

    Loved the video. I liked the part where atc gives you the squak code while you are taxiing, and you enter it while moving, and i am thinking how my instructor would have yelled at me if i was to do that , and then sure enough, 1 second later, you put the caption over the video to say proper procedure is to not do this while moving, good job!

  7. Mike Ladner

    October 30, 2016 1:34 pm

    I love your videos. I got my private many years ago, but recently had to quit flying due to medical reasons. I wish these had been available back in the 80's.

  8. Bryce Perl

    November 8, 2016 2:38 am

    At your cruise altitude of 3500 ft, on a direct 179 degree course from ann arbor to wood county, you pass through the Toledo Class charlie airspace. Did you fly around the Charlie or did FF guide you through it? Im still confused on when to use the FF service.

  9. Michael Gronau

    February 24, 2017 2:27 am

    I've started my lessons outta Ann Arbors airport through Solo Aviation. I will be using your channel if I need to reference anything with in the area before my lessons.

  10. Brian Brickley

    June 24, 2017 8:53 pm

    I learned at Ann Arbor and keep my plane at 75G now. Question: If I am on flight following does that automatically mean I am cleared through controlled airspace? For instance I want to fly over to the west side of Michigan and that could take me through Jackson delta airspace as well as Kalamazoo depending on altitude. If I am using flight following will I need to contact those towers to pass through? Will I need to hear ATC clear me through those airspaces? Hope that makes sense. Thanks

  11. motoworx racing

    July 3, 2017 8:30 pm

    Recently I was under vfr flight following to KBJC for landing. I was getting very close to the airport and did not hear anything from flight following. I finally asked for frequency change to get clearance for landing at KBJC. My question is did I need to ask for frequency change ? Did ATC forget about my intentions? Did flight following relay to KBJC that I was coming in to land?
    Thanks, good videos.

  12. Alvin Prince

    August 23, 2017 5:41 pm

    Good video,very helpfull on how to get flight following and when to contact the assigned departure and approach tower.

  13. David Stoica

    September 5, 2017 10:34 pm

    What happens when you leave their airspace? Will you still be on frequency with them until your destination or they will handle you to another controller? Thank you !

  14. old bricks

    September 23, 2017 10:50 am

    It would be better to edit atc and replace with a voice thats clear to understand and not talking when you are, absolutely does not help at all to reenact your flight sitting in a noisy goddam plane… watch some cyndy Holman videos and learn how to teach before you start making videos

  15. Nitesh Divecha

    November 14, 2017 9:43 pm

    John… Much appreciate for this video… This is exactly what I was looking for and I guess it's my lucky day because this is my home base KARB. :-)… Talking of luck it looks like you got lucky when you asked for VFR flight following from ground. We tried doing from ground but we were told to contact Detroit App. when we are airborne… So going to try again and hoping to get different controller… It makes a different doing from ground than in air…

    Also quick question… Did you file and open flight plan with FSS or you just requested for VFR flight following directly?

  16. Kristina V

    March 2, 2018 5:43 pm

    I love your videos! I'm learning to fly in Alaska and I'm always jealous of your snow and ice-free runways. As a student pilot I'm always nervously trying to avoiding a prop strike on small snow berms the plows miss or big snowballs they leave behind on the taxiway.

  17. Arno Fontana

    July 13, 2018 5:49 pm

    Hello from Belgium! I have a question regarding flight following: what if you are not going direct to your destination? Suppose you have 2 or 3 turning points not on the direct line, for sightseeing for example. How and when do you explain that to the controller?

  18. Wayland Ritzman

    August 1, 2018 3:02 pm

    I have watched a number of flight following videos to learn how to request it but all seem to be doing direct to flights. Can you request a flight with a waypoint in it creating a dogleg route such as if you want to go from AKR Akron, OH to Lowell in Michigan without going over Lake Erie? Thanks

  19. n124lp

    August 5, 2018 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the video. Just curious, why are you flying from the right seat when alone in the aircraft?

  20. GreenGuyDIY

    January 30, 2019 4:50 pm

    Great info and comment about waiting to stopped to roll in the squawk. One note: I would suggest doing the run-up before pulling up to hold short for two reasons. 1) Keeps you out of the way of other who are truly ready to roll past the hold bars, 2) keeps you pointed more into the wind for the sake of the engine. Great pointer about positioning to see aircraft on final.

  21. Stardust 67

    April 23, 2019 2:49 pm

    Hi, I'd like to know if after clearance (ground) gave you the squawk code he told you to contact tower or you did it by yourself while holding at rwy 24. Your videos are awesome btw.

  22. Vin Man

    May 11, 2019 3:57 am

    what is the controller saying at 6.55 voice to text translates like…metro 3002 . what is that 3002

  23. Wolfgang M.

    June 30, 2019 9:56 pm

    FLY8MA.com Hi there, love ur videos..i am a VFR PPL and perhaps you could help me. My home airport is KFPR . i usually get my atis then contact ground for flight following. they then give me taxi instructions and want me to taxi. every time after i start taxing they come back with the flight following instructions and i have to write it down while i am taxiing and i really don't like that. how would you tell them that you would like to get the flight following instructions { squak, departure freq. and so on} first and then the taxi clearance? thanks in advance wolfgang

  24. max bootstrap

    July 18, 2019 1:32 am

    What's the point of flight following (or even ELTs in all but fatal crashes) when a pilot carries a Garmin InReach Explorer+ that automatically reports exact position every 5 or 10 minutes?


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