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VFR cruise altitudes

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Just a very minor point: I found I can't file flight plans for cruise altitudes at anything other than whole thousands - it gets rounded. VFR flights in the US above 3,000AGL are always at odd or even thousands plus 500ft, of course. It may make no practical difference as far as the software is concerned but I just thought I'd mention it.


I haven't actually succeeded with a VFR flight yet. Startup and take-off usually go well, but then I find I can't check in with the destination (class D) tower. The standard "Flagstaff tower, Skyhawk 214AL is 5 north-east, inbound to land" gets no answer and I can't get any SayIt strings to do the trick either (why do they specify a runway? Isn't that up to the controller?). But from 5 miles out it's all a bit frantic, so I can't really tell you what the exact problem is yet. I thought maybe it would go better with flight following, so that I might get explicitly handed-off to tower or approach, but when I tried this I made the mistake of departing from a non-towered airport and couldn't ask center for flight following because he kept telling me to contact ground! I guess I'm just straying too far outside the expected pattern of behavior somewhere. It should be possible to cold-call a tower and ask for a landing clearance though, shouldn't it?

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On the flight plan altitude, you need to select VFR Flight Plan and then it should force you to plan an altitude at Even thousands plus 500 when your route is Westerly and Odd thousands plus 500 when Easterly.


On the cold call to a tower, it should work.  In SayIt, the choices are fairly limited, but the 9th-11th phrase choices under Tower-Request-Approach will get you a Standard VFR Pattern entry, Visual Straight-In, or Overhead Pattern entry.  Once in the Pattern, use the Tower-Report-Pattern Location calls.

The call in your post should have worked.  You might need to just start with "Tower ..." and drop the Flagstaff as proper names like that often mess up speech recognition.  I'm working on fixing that, but it's still a problem. 

Also, there are some calls around VFR Flight Following in the Grammar helper, including a request for Flight Following in the Center Request VFRFlightFollowing.  Did you try using that phrase? 


It may take some time to iron out the wrinkles, but we'll get there. And remember, SayIt is a subset of some of the phrases P2A can understand.  It will grow over time, but like the phrase you tried using that should have worked without the "Flagstaff", there are many phrases that P2A will understand that are not in the Grammar Helper or SayIt.



I checked some of the VFR calls and they are not working as they should. I'll have to work on this area a bit more.  In the meantime, see if the SayIt phrases work.


Thanks for the report.


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Thanks Dave,


> select VFR Flight Plan and then it should force you to plan an altitude



Looks like we're both right about that one! W works, E rounds to exact thousands. Here are the results of two short and enjoyable VFR flights from KFLG to KGCN and back - I think I got some useful info out of it this time:


Filed a VFR flight plan at 8,500 (for a NW track) and that worked fine.



Contacted ground for taxi - perfect. Tried to contact tower but the phantom Unicom problem occurred - Tower claimed to be Unicom and wouldn't give me clearance to depart until I asked ground for it instead. Ground then referred me to tower and this time tower worked. I have a feeling this has been the root of many of my problems!



Took off, flew to GCN without flight following. Checked in with tower in my usual way and speech recognition heard every word perfectly - it even got "Grand Canyon" - but unfortunately nobody answered. I'm pretty sure it was the phantom Unicom again, because both KFLG and KGCN are listed as having three Unicom frequencies, one of which is tower [is it possible to fix this myself by editing the database? Or could you just forget about Unicom entirely, since it's just us talking to ourselves, and then there'll be no ambiguity?]



Since there was no reply to voice I tried asking for a standard pattern entry using SayIt but as soon as I clicked on the grammar I got a null ref exception. The stack trace for that is below.



Return Journey:



Filed a flight plan (track of 141 degrees) for 11,500 but it got rounded to 11,000. Tried various other odd (and even) half-thousands and it's just odd+500 that doesn't work when it should.



Ground was very helpful and I requested flight following. Tower claimed to be Unicom again but asking ground for a departure clearance did the trick. They referred me to tower and this time tower answered.



Tower handed me off to center nicely. Nobody said anything as I got within three miles of KFLG so I canceled flight following, which they accepted. Tried to contact tower but of course Unicom answered.



Landed without tower, contacted ground and they told me to contact Center! Presumably by that point everything was out of whack because of not having been cleared to land.



So basically I think there's a minor bug with rounding easterly altitudes and the phantom Unicom frequencies have been the cause of most of my problems on both departure and arrival. Plus there was the null ref error, but I've had a few of those myself today :-) Hope this helps.



- Steve



System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
   at Pilot2ATC_200.frmP2AMain.e(Object A_0, EventArgs A_1)
   at System.Windows.Forms.ListBox.OnSelectedIndexChanged(EventArgs e)
   at System.Windows.Forms.ListBox.WmReflectCommand(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.ListBox.WndProc(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Control.ControlNativeWindow.OnMessage(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Control.ControlNativeWindow.WndProc(Message& m)
   at System.Windows.Forms.NativeWindow.Callback(IntPtr hWnd, Int32 msg, IntPtr wparam, IntPtr lparam)

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Thanks for the PIREP.

I found the errors in the altitude calculations.  It should not have let you plan 8500 as that is barely above field elevation.  At any rate that should work in the next update.


Also, I found an error where the initial call to tower is not being handled and will get that fixed for the next update also.




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