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
We've reviewed three ways to obtain in Instrument Flight rules
(IFR) clearance when departing a non-towered airport, and expanded
on two: departing visually to pick up your clearance in the air,
and obtaining a clearance void time for an IFR departure. There's a
third method, also -- contact Air Traffic Control (ATC) by radio
from the ground at your departure airport, through a Remote
Communications Outlet (RCO) on the field, a repeater through a
nearby NAVAID (like a VOR), or in cases of very flat terrain
speaking directly with controllers at a nearby ATC facility.
Hold for release
If you're speaking directly to ATC you need to wait until ATC
gives you an okay to depart. Until then you'll be told to "hold for release". This
differs from a Clearance Void Time departure
in that ATC can tell pretty much exactly when you'll "pop up" into
controlled airspace, so instead of blocking out the airspace for a
(relatively) long time they'll wait for a gap and then give you a
"release" to depart under IFR.
NOTE: Your ATC
release is not "clearance to take off". You're still at a
non-towered (what we used to call an "uncontrolled" but is more
correctly a "pilot-controlled") airport. Obtaining your release
does not mean you have runway priority or will be clear of VFR
traffic near the airport. You still have to wait your turn, and see
and avoid VFR airplanes.
- ATC issues hold for release instructions to delay an aircraft's
departure for traffic management--weather, traffic volume,
- When ATC states "hold for release" in the clearance, you may
not depart under IFR until ATC comes back with your release.
- ATC will include departure delay information with hold for
release instructions (example: "hold for release; expect five
minutes departure delay").
The ATC instruction "hold for release" applies to the IFR
clearance and does not prevent you from departing VFR. If you elect
to do so, cancel your IFR flight plan before takeoff and operate
VFR (including transponder code). You may still be able to pick up
your IFR clearance after departure -- but give yourself plenty of
VFR maneuvering room.
Here's an example of a "hold for release" takeoff clearance:
"N329PT is cleared to Albuquerque as filed, maintain 6000
feet, squawk 1234. Hold for release, expect ten minutes delay for
You complete takeoff checklists while monitoring the ATC
frequency (stay where other airplanes can taxi around you to depart
while you wait). Eventually ATC calls you back and says: "N329PT is
released, report airborne on [frequency]." You take off and are on
an IFR clearance from the ground up -- just remember even IFR
airplanes need to "see and avoid" traffic when in visual
Aero-tip of the day: Understand the terminology
and use of Hold for Release when picking up an IFR clearance on the