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no active flight plan


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I don't have a ton of trans-border experience, but from what I remember, when going USA->Canada, when you file your flight plan it's not activated until you ask the departure aerodrome controller to activate it.

In Canada, when you file a flight plan, NavCanada automatically activates it either on your proposed departure time or your actual lift off time (if departing from an airport with FSS/positive control).

Most likely they departed thinking their plan was active but it wasn't.  It's a pretty common CADOR in the summer time when you see all the bush planes going to Alaska.

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I flew into the US hundreds of times...You first have to get on a computer and do an eapis report...then you call up border protection and talk with them...then you have to file a flight plan...on route you have to call the nearest US fss and tell them you are crossing the board and tell them where...you will have a discreet transponder code...you have to tell them your altitude and exact position when crossing .You have to call BPS at least an hour before...coming back to Canada you have to do the eapis outbound from the US...file with CanPass at least 2 hrs before departure...file a flight plan...use 1200 for your code.

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