Today, I completed another cross-country flight to Jacksonville Executive. Our route traversed a restricted area, which, when active, prohibits flying within a specified altitude range. The activation of this area can be time-specific or indicated by a NOTAM. If the area is active, I must either avoid it or fly at an altitude outside the restricted range.
During the briefing, I figured out that the area was inactive, and with good weather conditions, I was ready for takeoff!
This marked my first experience requesting flight following. With ATC tracking me on radar, they can advice about nearby traffic or upcoming adverse weather conditions. The communication procedures resemble those of an IFR flight, even though it’s still VFR, requiring Visual Meteorological Conditions.
Approximately 10 miles before entering the restricted area, I double-checked its status with the controller. Fortunately, everything was clear, and the controller provided additional information about adjacent areas.
Flight following proves incredibly useful, particularly since I lack TCAS or ADS-B equipment. Traffic information becomes crucial in busy airspace.
Looking ahead, I’m planning some flights with IFR flight plans during good weather conditions. This will help me maintain my communication skills and practice instrument approaches, a crucial step before venturing into real Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).