Uncontrolled Airports and Flight Following
Joined 03/08/2020 - 2 Posts

I have two questions:
  1. How high (AGL) should you fly over uncontrolled airports, say, if you were using them as a waypoint for a cross-country flight? Should you announce your position on CTAF if you are just flying over?
  2. If you are on flight following and going direct destination and need to deviate (just off of course, not to another airport) for the weather, etc., do you have to tell the controller you are talking to you need to fly off path or can you go slightly off track for those reasons without telling a controller?
Thank you so much!
3 Replies
Joined 06/11/2017 - 700 Posts
1. As high as you think appropriate for the conditions.  I'd definitely want to stay at least 500 above the highest TPA for that airport (remembering that the heavy/jet pattern is normally 500 above the "standard" 1000 AGL light plane pattern).  More than that, I wouldn't bother calling on CTAF, since you're not in the pattern -- better to stay with ATC for flight following rather than make calls which are essentially irrelevant to those actually in the pattern.  But if you're going through at or near TPA, then switching to CTAF and listening/making calls until clear of the pattern (either vertically or horizontally) is definitely the best way to go.

2. Depends on how far off the course you're going -- basically, a judgment call.  If you think it might take you into another sector or facility, definitely say something.  Likewise, if you think it's a big enough course change that it would change the problem for keeping you informed of other traffic, or keeping other traffic informed of you, then, also, yes -- make the call.  And if it's for weather, then definitely tell the controller, so s/he can share that information with other aircraft.
Joined 03/08/2020 - 2 Posts
Awesome, thank you so much for the help!
Joined 01/30/2020 - 26 Posts
HI Henry
And if you're making that course change for weather you might consider providing a pilot report to the controller. Much appreciated by others in or planning to be in the same area.