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Make your flight planning life easy, by flying smarter not harder.

As mentioned in the previous lesson (Flight Service Stations), VFR flight plans are not required, but it is highly recommended that you file and open one especially on cross-country flights. Whereas an IFR flight plans are always required.

Filing and opening a VFR flight plan actually serves a purpose, it helps search and rescue find you.

Always prefill out a flight plan form as draft, FAA Form 7233-1 before submitting or calling the Flight Service Station to file. The flight plan form is self-explanatory, but don't worry we will explain it one block at a time.

An example of a Visual Flight Rules/Instrument Flight Rules (VFR/IFR) Flight Plan.

  1. Type – VFR (Check the type of flight plan, in this case we are VFR.)

  2. Aircraft Ident. – Entire aircraft tail number (N20RHA)

  3. Aircraft Type/Equipment – Cessna 172/U

    1. Equipment – Is the type of transponder equipment code. (The most common suffix is /U – Mode C Transponder with no DME). All of the other suffixes are used in IFR flying.

Suffix Codes

4. True Airspeed - (TAS) in knots. Not indicated airspeed (IAS).

5. Departure Point - Departure airport identifier, KRNM (Ramona Airport, CA.)

6. Departure Time - Proposed departure time in Zulu (Z).

7. Cruising Altitude – 6,500 Feet MSL (Remember: east is odd plus 500 feet, west is even plus 500 feet.)

8. Route of flight – In this case Ramona Direct Chino (Using NAVAID identifier codes and airways, if flying a much longer complex route)

9. Destination – Arrival airport identifier code, KCNO (Chino Airport, CA.)

10. Estimated Time En-route - In hours and minutes, (Give enough time for any delays, alternate airport, etc.)

11. Remarks - If necessary

12. Fuel On Board – Total fuel onboard aircraft in hours and minutes (4 hours and 45 minutes)

13. Alternate Airport – Specify an alternate airport (in case weather gets worse at planned destination. (In this case None)

14. Pilot’s Name, Address & Phone… - Pilot in Command (PIC) name and contact phone number and aircraft home base. (Joe Pilot & 123-456-7890, KRNM)

15. Number Abroad - Total number of souls (persons) on board including passengers.

16. Color Of Aircraft - aircraft color is white with red trim.

The last two blocks 15 and 16 is essential information for search and rescue operations in the event they are needed.

Filing and opening a VFR flight plan helps search and rescue find you when you crash, hopefully this never happens but it does. If you don’t file and open a flight plan no one will go out and look for you.

NOTE: Keep in mind that filing and opening a VFR flight plan is different than requesting VFR flight following with ATC.


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