A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have
heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we
might never have considered before, or something that didn't
"stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for
the practical test.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this
Runway in sight, you glide down to
the runway. You've completed a flight on a Visual Flight Rules
(VFR) or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan... how do you
tell the system you've safely completed your flight?
The purpose of a VFR flight plan is to alert search and rescue
services if you are more than 30 minutes overdue to your
Note: Update your Estimated Time of Arrival
(ETA) en route if you'll be more than 30 minutes later than your
actual time of departure plus actual time en route.
Pilots are always responsible for close their flight plan.
Control towers do not automatically close out VFR flight plans
because they don't know if a particular airplane is on a VFR flight
plan. You can request the tower close your VFR flight plan, but
generally you need to contact a Flight Service Station (FSS) by
radio or phone to close your flight plan and report your safe
IFR flight plans are used for Air Traffic Control purposes as
well as the search-and-rescue function. Because controllers do know
if you're on an IFR flight plan they will automatically close your
IFR flight plan when you touch down at a tower-controlled airport.
But controllers must actually see your airplane touch down to
automatically cancel your IFR flight plan -- at any nontowered
facility you must tell an ATC facility or Flight Service you wish
to CANCEL MY IFR FLIGHT PLAN -- colloquially, "cancel IFR" -- which
terminates your IFR clearance, your IFR flight plan, and any radar
services you're receiving.
You may also call Flight Service by telephone to cancel after
landing, often the only means of closing out after landing at a
nontowered airport in low weather conditions (when you can't cancel
in the air).
Note: ATC can sequence only one airplane
into or out of most nontowered airports at a time-meaning the
sooner you cancel IFR, the sooner the next person can use the
airspace. If you're in good visual conditions and have the runway
in sight, go ahead and cancel IFR unless you doubt the ability to
remain in Visual Meteorological Conditions all the way to
Aero-tip of the day: Know how to close out your
VFR or IFR flight plan