October 13, 2023
What is Flight Following?
Flying an aircraft is a thrilling experience, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. One crucial aspect of responsible flying is ensuring safety and situational awareness in the skies. Visual Flight Rules/VFR Flight Following is a valuable tool that pilots can use to enhance their safety and peace of mind while in the air. In this blog post, we will explore why VFR Flight Following is important and how it can benefit pilots.
- Enhanced Safety: One of the primary reasons pilots should consider using VFR Flight Following is enhanced safety. This service allows air traffic controllers to monitor your flight and provide critical information. They can issue traffic advisories and alert you to potential conflicts with other aircraft, reducing the risk of mid-air collisions.
- Traffic Awareness: In busy airspace or adverse weather conditions with reduced visibility, it can be challenging to keep track of nearby aircraft. VFR Flight Following provides an extra set of eyes in the sky. Air traffic controllers can give you information about nearby traffic that you might not be aware of, helping you navigate safely.
- Emergency Assistance: Emergencies can happen, and when they do, having a connection to air traffic control can be a lifesaver. Controllers can quickly assist you in navigating to the nearest suitable airport, provide weather updates, and coordinate emergency services if needed.
- Navigation Assistance: Navigating through complex airspace, around terrain, or avoiding restricted areas can be challenging. Controllers can provide vectors, which are heading and altitude instructions, to help you navigate safely. Their guidance can be particularly helpful when you’re flying in unfamiliar territory.
- Communication Practice: For student pilots or those looking to maintain radio communication proficiency, using VFR Flight Following offers an opportunity to practice communication skills. Effective communication with controllers is essential for safe and efficient flight.
- Flight Planning Aid: Air traffic controllers can provide updated weather information, including conditions at your destination airport, alternate airports, and along your route. This information allows you to make informed decisions about your flight, helping you plan more effectively.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing that you have an experienced team of professionals watching over your flight can provide peace of mind. This is especially valuable when flying in unfamiliar or challenging airspace, as it reduces stress and enhances your confidence in the cockpit.
- Search and Rescue: In the unfortunate event of an emergency or if you become lost, controllers will have a better idea of your location. This enables them to initiate search and rescue efforts more quickly, potentially saving lives.
- Improved Situational Awareness: VFR Flight Following helps you maintain better situational awareness by keeping you informed about your position relative to other aircraft and airspace restrictions. It’s an invaluable aid to maintaining a clear mental picture of your flight environment.
- Regulatory Compliance: In some airspace or under specific conditions (Think TFRs or Restricted Areas), using VFR Flight Following may be required by regulations. It ensures that you are in compliance with airspace and communication requirements, preventing potential legal issues. Think about that Restricted Area that is Never Active, ATC will alert you and give you guidance in case you missed the activation NOTAM.
VFR Flight Following is a voluntary service that offers numerous benefits to pilots. It enhances safety, provides critical information, and can be a lifesaving resource in emergencies. By maintaining better situational awareness and improving communication, it contributes to a smoother and more enjoyable flying experience. So, next time you take to the skies, consider using VFR Flight Following to make your journey safer and more comfortable. Safe flying!