What is the proper procedure for participating with "flight following" when leaving a non-control towered airport?


2 Answers 2


You can request Flight Following at anytime.

Personally, I wouldn't be in a hurry to request it as soon as you depart. Wait until you're established on course, in a cruise-attitude (instead of a climb), and everything is settled and running smoothly. Then know your position, and how you're going to report it. Know where you're going (both by name and ICAO identifier), and try to anticipate any questions they might ask.

Look for the Center/Approach/Depature where you are (look in your chart supplement for an airport close to you), and call up with:

You: "Seattle Center; November 12345: VFR, with request"
translation: Calling Seattle Center, this is N12345. I'm VFR (so you haven't heard from me before... don't be surprised!), and I have a request.

Center: "November 12345: Say request."

You: "November 12345 is SkyHawk, 10 mi. South of Harvey Field, 4,500 feet. Request VFR Flight Following to Friday Harbor"
translation: I'm a Cessna Skyhawk, my location and altitude will help you find me. I'm asking for FF to this other airport."

Center: "N345: Squawk 4532 and Ident."

You: (Set your transponder to 4532, press the Identify Button), and say "4532 and Ident, N345"

Center: "N345: Radar Contact, 11 mi. south of Sierra Four Tree, at 4,500. Traffic at your 1o'clock, 5 mi. North Bound, Altitude indicates 3,000."
translation: I found you on my radar scope, and am describing the position I see you. (If you disagree, speak up!). You have traffic ahead and slightly to your right. Their transponder indicates 3,000 feet, but I cannot independently verify that.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You may not always have the luxury to wait. For instance, in skyvector.com, plan a trip from 6B6 to PYM. Eastbound, so VFR you'd want to be at 3500 once clear of the departure airport - but the Boston Class B is right there overhead. In this case, I would contact Boston Approach as soon as I could, both to be aware of Boston-Logan traffic and to get cleared into the Class Bravo airspace at a legit altitude, vs skirting along just under and dodging Hansom-Bedford traffic and Norwood traffic. Without the Classs Bravo right there, things could be more relaxed. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    May 17, 2018 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ In a case like that, (ADS near Dallas), I contacted Clearance Delivery while on the ground: They set me up for FF before I even taxied. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    May 17, 2018 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ @abelenky When you make your request, be sure to state the altitude you will be cruising at. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    May 17, 2018 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is good for non-towered airports. If you're at a towered airport, though, it's easier to request FF from Clearance Delivery (or Ground if no CD) before you even take off; once tower hands you off, all you have to do is check in with Departure/Center rather than trying to request it while climbing or en route. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Dec 7, 2018 at 15:36

Like when the Approach you were talking with says "Nxxxx, flight following terminated, squawk VFR"? And some times adds "Contact xxx Approach on xxx.x in so many miles" Then you contact the next Approach area when you get closer to them, or contact Center if the next Approach is too far away.

Example, I was flying from Binghamton, NY up towards Buffalo, NY. Binghamton dumped me not far out of the area, Buffalo was still quite a ways away. I called NY Center - they said contact Binghamton. Told them Binghamton had just dumped me - they had me standby, apparently talked to Binghamton, came back and said contact Binghamton, I did and Binghamton gave me flight following for quite a ways more.

Sometimes you have to climb higher for Center to see you. That may have changed with ADS-B. Haven't really gone anywhere since I had ADS-B installed on February.

Work on your IFR rating. When on an IFR flight plan, you never get dumped. (I am rated, just not current at the moment, but I'm working on it.)

[Hmm, looks like I misread the question. My answer is more appropriate to "What can I do when flight following is terminated leaving me with no ATC to talk to, and in the middle of no where?"


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