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woodreau

VFR flying

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Hello,I'd like to know, when flying VFR on a small GA airplane, does the pilot has to follow any airways (enroute airways), or does he/she expect an assigned altitude to go from point A to point B, then it's down to the pilot to get there? What are the limitations in terms of using the airspace? Are the rules the same for Europe and for US there?Cheers,Francois

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Speaking on behalf US pilots, there are 3 options. Pilotage, Deduced Reckoning (Ded Reckoning for short), or Radio Navigation.Pilotage is simply looking outside your window for known checkpoints to determine your position.Deduced Reckoning is knowing where you start, approximate winds, and true airspeed. You then figure out your groundspeed and mag heading based on those known winds and groundspeeds (using a flight computer). Finally, you combine those factors with how far your enroute leg is, and you know how long it will take you to get there.Lastly, is Radio Nav. which you mentioned. This can be VOR to VOR, or along published airways. The only drawback to this (especially here in Florida along V3) is the dense amount of traffic, both VFR and IFR. IFR is not a problem, as you always have help in avoiding other traffic, but VFR is all up to the pilot to avoid other planes. I was recently VFR down to Fort Pierce on V3 just south of Melbourne (thankfully talking to Orlando Approach for flight following and on the western edge of the airway due to the hot restricted area on the Cape), and he called out a Baron, northbound, same altitude. He passed about 1/2 mile off my left about 4 seconds later.Pilots usually combine 2 or all of these methods to complete a succesful VFR flight (we do here at ERAU). Seeing as how the predicted winds are always a little off (if not more), Ded Reckoning is not reliable without the backup of Pilotage. Pilotage at night is VERY difficult, and is often backed up with Radio Nav, whether it be VOR, NDB, or, in these days and times, GPS.I like to use all 3, even though following an airway is usually a little longer than direct, but the ease of use really reduces the pilot workload.As for altitudes, you USUALLY get to fly whatever you want. I say USUALLY because in most cases, even in controlled airspace, you may be at any altitude you wish (below 18,000 of course). There are some cases where ATC may have you fly a different altitude than requested, but you can sometimes get away with "unable VFR at xxx altitude" if there are clouds in the area. Keep in mind though that there are AIM specific altitudes for your direction of flight that you are expected to adhere to.When departing controlled airspace, you're usually given an altitude restricton. You call up for VFR clearance at 4,500 to the Northwest, but they come back with "Skyhawk 443ER, maintain VFR at or below 3,000...". No problem, you just stay at 3k for 10 miles until they terminate you at the edge of their airspace, and then climb on up to 4.5.

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Hey,Thanks a lot for the reply; that's quite comprehensive!!!I would guess then that if you use a combination of all 3 methods, you would use both enroute and VFR+GPS charts then??Cheers,Francois

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Hey Travis,I live down here in Vero and use to work at Flight Safety. Don't you wish that MS would of included Embry Riddle and Flight Safety (along with Southwest) into the voice pack for ATC ID's?Kilstorm

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Regarding altitudes, I'll throw in the "rule" of:0 to 179 degrees --- magnetic course odd thousands + 500'180 to 359 degrees --- magnetic course --- even thousands + 500'This applies to VFR flight over 3000' agl., & below 18,000'Ladamson

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Generally for VFR flying all you need is a VFR chart. The most common chart would be the sectional, as it provides a relatively good overview of where you're flying and points out the obstacles and landmarks you might want to use as well as the airports along your route. Next common would be a Terminal Area chart, which is the same as a sectional, but twice as accurate. You only find these published for major cities-- mostly just class B airports, but there are a couple class C out there that have them. You almost never use IFR charts for VFR flight. Everything you need to navigate (including VORs, NDBs, airways and visual references) can be found on a VFR chart, making IFR charts (particularly enroute charts) useless. HOWEVER, it is not a bad idea to carry them as a backup incase you happen to encounter IFR conditions along your route and need to declare an emergency. (In that case of course, ATC would give you everything you needed, but it's nice to have a printed reference in front of you)

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Interesting thread. Travis, how reasonable is the VFR transition through the Orlando Class B? Or is it easier just to divert around it? I imagine there most be lots of restricted areas in that part of Florida.Francois, you're on your own with VFR. You can go where you want, and it's up to you to navigate there by whichever method. There are specified crusing altitudes depending on your magnetic heading as Larry mentioned. The exception is when you enter airspace that is under a controller, such as around busier airports and military areas. Then you might be directed to fly a specific heading and altitude. The strictness of the controllers varies and is greatest in the airspace around major hub airports, in what is called Class B airspace. There are also some prohibited and restricted areas that you must avoid.

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Thanks everyone,This is really the info I was after!!!Cheers,Francois

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The rules in the US and outside the US are not the same. It all depends on the country and the sophistication of the civil aviation infrastructure of that country.European rules are similar to the US. There are a few quirks and differences, e.g. you switch your alitmeter to 29.92 at a different altitude instead of 18,000ft like in the US.In some countries flight outside of published airways is prohibited. It depends on the country. In Africa, a lot of airspace is uncontrolled because there is no radar coverage, and ATC reverts to the old method of position reports and people controlling based on these reports. So if you give a bad report then the controllers are working off bad data and things go downhill quickly.Itdepends on the country.The ATC in the US is pretty sophisticated and radar coverage is available just about everywhere you can fly (some mountainous places may not have radar due to terrain) so there is more flexibility on what you can do and where you can fly.Woodreau

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To tell you the truth, I've only brushed the northern and eastern edges of the Orlando Bravo, but have never heard a big fuss from ATC. As for the restricted airspace, its not bad except when the shuttle is on the pad. The TFR ring actually bisects KDAB inbetween 7L and R, so the school prohibits flights during that time. Kind of a pain, but beats having to recall your intercept procedures.

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Travis,Re your comment about the Orlando ATC group not making much fuss about Class B proximity, I have to share a brief anecdote. I fly out of Lakeland, and my wife and I were heading over to Merritt Island one afternoon in our Cessna 120. Not wanting to go too far out of our way, but at the same time avoid the Orlando Class B airspace, I opted to skirt under it at 2,000' just below Kissimmee where the floor is at 3,000'. Crossing the East shore of the lake we hit a rising column of air that began with a jolt and followed with the glider pilot's holy grail. We began about a 3,000 fpm climb. I pulled the throttle to the stop, eased the nose over to 120 indicated (yellow line) and held on...right through the floor of the Class B and another 500' feet beyond before we flew out of that thing. We've all heard the stories about the ATC cops and unauthorized Class B entry, so I thought I'd better turn myself in (I was transponder and encoder equipped so I figured I was busted).After fessing up to being the unidentified/unauthorized target that just joined them, I was greeted by first silence - then the conversation went something like:Ummm...did you see any big airplanes while you were up there?Uhhh...no.Well...I won't tell anybody if you don't.Point is - they are all pretty good guys I guess if you just work with them.Regards,Leon Seale

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