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First Time Flying In The Us


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Hi All,


I have to do a ferry(Helicopter)flight from eastern Canada to southern U.S. I have a number of years and hours behind me but never flew in the U.S. I was just wandering if there were any usefull pointers someone might pass on.





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If you are IFR rated, then IFR routings can be way easier (be sure to consult preferred routes), especially through busy airspace, you just follow the route, and listen to ATC instructions.


If VFR, then I totally agree with Mike, the terminal area frequencies provide excellent flight following and direction around "difficult" areas. Get to know the differences between our VNCs and the US sectional charts. There are many differences - I personally like the US SACs because they pretty much have all the info you need on them including descriptions of hazard / restricted areas, freq's etc.


There is no similar book to our CFS, however there are CFS like books (VFR Flight Procedures books I think) for the different areas of the states. There are 6 or 8 books (or maybe more) that cover the whole US. There is no equivalent to our 126.7 traffic frequency, although the airspace is usually so busy with airports, you generally skip from airport freq to airport freq unless you are with a terminal area controller.


NOTAMS are different and there are often TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) in effect. You don't want to miss a TFR and accidentlly fly into a presidential restricted area - you might find a lot of undesirable attention directed your way. When crossing the border, you need a discreet squak code - make sure you request it when filing your VFR flight plan, as not all FSS's will offer it up. Then of course you have to arrange for customs at your AOE (airport of entry) upon arrival in the US.


VFR flight plans are not activated automatically like we do here in Canada. You actually have to call a FSS (freq often on SACs) and have it activated. Same for closing. Tower will not usually close it for you unless you are IFR. It may sound like a lot, but its not too different from flying in Canada. If you are ferrying down on the east or west side of the continent, following the coast line tends to be scenic and easy - hard to get lost when you follow the beach south.


Have fun, some of my most interesting flights have been through the US. Lots of things to see and do if you have the opportunity.

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You also have to complete what is known as E-apis

which is a passport clearance thing, do a google on that one.


Other thatn that, the flight supplement for the states is known as an A/FD (Aerodrome/Facility directory, and it has the same format as our CFS, and most if not all aerodromes are now shown with aerodrome charts in the same format as well. This document is available from the government for free (download) or cheap to buy (3-4 bucks a pop).


Some other advise, if you are not afraid to go into bigger airports, you might find that you get better service there, as opposed to smalelr aerodromes. (Million-air comes to mind), they might give you a coiurtesy car to get to your restaurant for lunch, or they might shuttle you to your hotel, and hook you up with some crew discounts. Most of the major FBO's will do this.


Depending on WHERE you are going, certain states have MORE than their fair share of restricted airspaces, such as Washington DC and New Mexico/Nevada, and you'd better know what you are doing around there, to make sure you don't accidentally fly into P-51 or P-39...


Other than that, what was said earlier on flight following is very true, but you might expect to be given altitudes up in the 'nosebleeds' sometimes. 5500 over Kansas City...


If any other q's, please let us know!



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Last time I crossed the US we stayed low and stopped at the smallish sized airports that had jet fuel. Way faster to stay out of control zones, no waiting for traffic, no landing fees, no line ups at the fuel pumps, better sight seeing...but you gotta pump your own gas. We were in a hurry so thats why we travelled like we did, if you're not in a hurry, do whatever you're comfortable with.

I believe the equivalent to our CFS is called a AC-U-KWIK book.

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The Aeronautical Information Manual has some useful chapters on airspace and air traffic control, among other things. You can find it online here:




The Airport/Facility Directories (A/FDs) have info for airports and FBOs. You can find the digital version here:




Enjoy your flight!



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