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Author Topic: Radio Avoidance  (Read 998 times)

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N1032M

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Radio Avoidance
« on: February 21, 2017, 03:29:53 PM »
Flying from the San Juans to the mainland (or as we call it America) I frequently fly thru Whidbey's Class C airspace. Additionally if I'm spending much time over the Strait, like Port Angeles or Jeffco, I'll contact Whidbey for flight following so I'm already in contact and on Radar if something goes awry, even though I'm not crossing their airspace.

Recently I flew with a couple of Pilots who fly over Whidbey's airspace in order to avoid talking to them. One pilot has 50+ years experience, the other is a CFII.

Yes, I've had the occasional rude controller conversation but in general they're very helpful.

Do you fly around radio work? Have you had a good or bad experience worth sharing?
Bryan
Roche Harbor

WadeT

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2017, 04:04:22 PM »
I always make it a point to contact Whidbey if I'm flying through that area.  Having another pair of eyes doesn't hurt and especially beneficial during the summer when there's a lot of traffic in that area.  Never a bad experience except with Seattle Approach once years ago (directed at someone else fortunately).  In the case of a class D transition, I normally would call them up if they are not busy and are known to call out traffic if they have radar access.  Otherwise I would just go over the top/around if the controller sounds super busy since there's really no point to add myself to the fray w/o separation services.
-Wade

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geekxx

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 08:09:23 PM »
I generally always call to let them know I'm overflying even if I don't have to.  On a couple of occasions when overflying Whidbey they asked me not to overfly the airfield due to some operations going on, something I wouldn't have been aware of had I not contacted them.  Can't hurt to communicate.
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will moffitt

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2017, 08:36:28 PM »
I live on a rock west of Mt Erie on Fidalgo island, and under Whidbey's airspace.  About six miles from the center.  It creates a natural flow over my house, Lake Erie, Campbell Lake (the one with the island in the center) directly south  of Mt Erie.    Be carefully there, a concentration of traffic, keep your eyes open.  I live NW of Lake Erie,  buzz me if you like, just leave the shingles.  Only house around with a copper colored roof.

will

Dan_Root

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2017, 09:35:45 PM »
We have a lot on Roche's airport and will live there someday.  Fly from the mainland to W09 almost weekly.  I typically don't go through Whidbey's airspace, but never avoid it.  If we're flying to Seattle or even Snohomish, I'll get a flight following.  If we go to Skagit, I usually don't.

As Will said, the island traffic can get kinda busy.  Always keep those eyes scanning for traffic.
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ErikU

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2017, 10:24:37 PM »
I hear those kind of comments from time to time, but always second hand.  Seems strange to me, and I really don't understand why you would want to avoid talking to whidbey?  Let's face it, flying to/from the islands is somewhat high risk, so a second set of eyes is a good thing.  Also, Whidbey has always been friendly and helpful.
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Cabbage

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2017, 07:22:21 AM »
I talk to ATC almost every chance I get.  About the only time I don't ask for flight following is when I'm doing a very short flight like Auburn to Thun.  While I will frequently plan my flights to avoid some controlled airspace, I never plan my flights to avoid using the radio.

N1032M

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2017, 07:23:39 AM »
I generally always call to let them know I'm overflying even if I don't have to.  On a couple of occasions when overflying Whidbey they asked me not to overfly the airfield due to some operations going on, something I wouldn't have been aware of had I not contacted them.  Can't hurt to communicate.

I have been asked not to overfly the field at less than 2500', but being above the airspace, it's hard to imagine how they can tell you not to overfly without issuing a TFR.
Bryan
Roche Harbor

N804RV

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2017, 07:39:58 AM »
Going from Paine field to Friday Harbor, I'll get flight following just to save time and fly direct.  Never had a problem.  Sometimes, I'll take friends through Deception Pass.  I call Whidbey tower on 127.9 at about 10 miles out (between Anacortes and Skagit), and ask to go from Cornet bay west through the pass at 1,000' MSL. The Whidbey guys haven't refused me yet.  But, I imagine they would refuse if I showed up while they were doing FCLPs.

If I'm headed out to the islands from the Skagit area or north, I don't bother the Whidbey guys.   I just tune up 128.25 and keep my eyes peeled.
Ken W.
Mount Vernon, WA

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hotrod180

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2017, 09:12:39 AM »
I generally call Whidbey is I'm going to the San Juans, I don't care too much about having flight following but I do like to be on their scope in case of trouble.
However, sometimes going NE from Port Townsend, for example to Skagit, I'll stay below the outer class C airspace but jog around the surface area.
Reason being is that several times I've called in the past, wanting to just barely cut across the edge of the surface area, I've been vectored way out of my way (or told to climb up, typically to 3500'),
in order to accommodate some other activity they have going on.
But generally Whidbey is pretty accommodating and easy to work with.
Other than the local control towers, they're pretty much the only ATC facility I deal with on any kind of regular basis.

Wombat

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2017, 12:53:49 PM »
I've had a few slightly gruff conversations with Whidbey approach and because of that I've asked a few other towers around a question:    If I'm flying over your airspace or near it but not actually in it, would you prefer I talk to you or not?

McChord:  Prefer not
Whidbey: Prefer not
Paine: Yes, and please stay out of the approach/departure path.
BFI: At least listen in because there are many IFR approaches/departures.

The least nice conversation I've had with Whidbey I was overflying their airspace and my radio traffic went something like this: (Omitting the formal parts like "Whidbey Approach, this is Mooney 12345")
Me: "I'm 15 miles SW at 4,500', I'll be flying over your airspace"
Them: "state intentions... Do you want flight following?"
Me: "No thanks, just flying near your airspace."
Them: "Then you don't need to contact me."
Me: "I thought you might appreciate knowing I'm listening if I'm right next to your airspace"
Them:   "No.  If you are not in our airspace there is no need to contact us."

I kind of think I took that guy away from his episode of Game of Thrones or something.


But overall, I have found ATC to be incredibly helpful, professional (More professional than me sometimes) and workload permitting, I am very glad to know they are watching my radar return and listening to me in case something goes wrong.   I'll almost always get VFR flight following for anything further than about 30NM.


Funniest ATC interaction I've had recently was last summer.  Coming back over the Cascades on the descent I'm pretty proud that I'm doing about 175KT on the GPS and talking about that with my passengers.  Seattle Approach is vectoring some Delta flight around and notifies them of "Slow-moving aircraft at 10:00, 8 miles, 8,500", which was referring to me.    Radio traffic was light so after the acknowledgement from Delta I respond with "Approach, Mooney 12345.... I'm not *THAT* slow..." and ATC's response was great...  She was almost stuttering "Yeah....But... I'm sorry....  But compared to them....I didn't mean it like that...." and I hope both she and everyone else on the radio got a good laugh, I know my passengers and I did.   :)
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mneuman

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2017, 05:18:49 PM »
Concur on McChord: they seem quite grouchy. I called a few months ago because I was slowly climbing out of TIW and wasn't sure if I'd make it high enough before entering their D. The response to me checking in with a request for transition was something along the lines of: "You'll probably make it above our airspace. Good day."

will moffitt

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2017, 06:12:23 PM »
I spent 4 years in the Air Force in front of a radar scope watching for Russians.  I know it was much different than the type of radar in use at Whidbey etc.  So my question, my little biplane that is mostly sticks and bed sheets, how well does it show up on their radar?  No electrics and no transponder.   Just wondering as I do not talk to them even crossing the straits.

will

JRo

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2017, 06:23:56 PM »
So my question, my little biplane that is mostly sticks and bed sheets, how well does it show up on their radar?  No electrics and no transponder.   Just wondering as I do not talk to them even crossing the straits.

will

I don't know about the ATC's radar, but I know that the speed radar used by the police & highway patrol gets a good primary return on your engine/radiator, even in an all fiberglass car.  I wouldn't doubt that the propeller disc provides some return as well.

Perhaps somebody more familiar with radar could enlighten us all.
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N804RV

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Re: Radio Avoidance
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2017, 08:02:19 PM »
I spent 4 years in the Air Force in front of a radar scope watching for Russians.  I know it was much different than the type of radar in use at Whidbey etc.  So my question, my little biplane that is mostly sticks and bed sheets, how well does it show up on their radar?  No electrics and no transponder.   Just wondering as I do not talk to them even crossing the straits.

will

Will, I'm gonna try to say this correctly.  But, with my limited knowledge and fading memory from Navy "A" school, I could me wrong.

 I believe the factor that determines the strength or size of the primary return is referred to as "Radar Cross Section" or "RCS".  RCS is vectoral summation of many different angles of the aircraft structure.  In short, I believe your aircraft (4130 chromoly truss tube fuselage, spruce spars, engine, metal prop) is gonna have at least as much RCS as a Piper Cherokee, or Cessna 150.

Ken W.
Mount Vernon, WA

PP ASEL, Complex, High Perf and Tailwheel endorsements.
RV-8 Empennage Kit mostly finished
         Wings in work
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