Home > Lessons > Hmmm you want that SFRA thing in DC?

Hmmm you want that SFRA thing in DC?

One of the great joy’s (ahem) of flying in suburban Maryland so close to our nation’s capital is that we have to file an “SFRA” (Special Flight Rules Area) flight plan. To keep us safe and all that. Now I’ve been doing these plans for almost three months and I’d say 90% of the time I never have an issue and the people at “Potomac Control” (apparently contractors from Lockheed Martin) are terrific. You file these plans via the telephone and say to a computer which state your are flying in. If the computer doesn’t understand you can wind up with a controller in podunk Utah or something and then you’re in for a treat.

“You have to give me a destination” to which I say I’m just doing traffic pattern work I’m departing from Gaithersburg, and arriving at Gaithersburg. “But what direction, what radials?” The first time I heard that a couple of weeks ago I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, he puts me on hold and talks with someone more clued in and eventually figures out to say something like 1 radial for departure and 360 for arrival or something like that. I’m not a freakin’ controller and am dealing with VFR not IFR flights. Anyway today the computer recognized my request to fly from “Maryland” and the controller that get’s on says you want to file what? I say “an SFRA plan”. He responds, “Oh that’s one of the Washington DC things.” “Yes”, I say. And then a miracle happened…he says “Hold on I’ll transfer you to someone in the area.” And then a pro got on and we started and finished up quick.

As for the flying itself I was a fairly quick 0.7 hour lesson, did 6 landings which included 2 engine failures and 1 no flap landing. I was OK nothing great, I forced the no flap landing, was too high and made a good landing but the whole approach was too high. Mostly I’m finally hitting the center line. The weather was cloudy-ish and extremely calm. I need to get some practice in with some wind and more traffic flying around.

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