Remember to Close Your VFR Flight Plan

General aviation flying comes with its delights and its risks. We have the joy of traveling from point A to point B, for business, for pleasure or just for that famous hamburger. Along with the joy comes the risk of an unforeseen event, such as a change in the weather, a mechanical interruption, or an ill passenger. Safe and proficient pilots generally manage these events quite well. What’s more, we have an insurance plan for VFR flight and it’s called Filing a Flight Plan. Filing a VFR flight plan is recommended as a good operating practice because it comes with built-in protection known as Search and Rescue (SAR.) That is the sole purpose of a VFR flight plan.

What pilot wants to make that great off-airport landing and then have to spend a freezing night in the airplane because no one knows where you are! File your flight plan, activate it, and then close it after landing. And, in today’s world of cell phones, it’s easier than ever to call 800 WX BRIEF (800-992-7433) and close your flight plan.

Last month, we asked you to give us your strategies for remembering to close a flight plan. We asked, because there has been an increase of incidents where flight plans are activated but not closed.

One thing pilots do well is focus. We focus on the task at hand and it’s easy, once a flight is completed and the aircraft is tied down, to move our focus to the next task – while forgetting to close our flight plan.

There was a remarkable consistency in your ideas. It was – interrupt your focus on the next task to ensure the flight plan has been closed. Here are the top four suggestions.

·        Place a note on your car ignition or steering wheel
·        Set the alarm on your cell phone
·        Put your watch on the other wrist
·        Put your wallet or your car keys in a different pocket

In other words, interrupt the start of the next task with a reminder to close the flight plan.

Whatever strategy or method you use, don’t forget to close your VFR flight plan!

Thank you for participating. All the strategies you sent had merit. If you want to see a compilation of those good ideas, click this link: https://www.faasafety.gov/files/notices/2009/Oct/Close_Flight_Plan_Interrupter_List.pdf. (Or, copy and paste into your browser.)

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