Interesting read for IFR pilots

The whole article is interesting. For those who remember the recent thread regarding sightseeing, check out the last paragraph.


Edit: by the way, this is from one of those virtual ATC websites, not the FAA. But these guys generally use FAA ATC procedures.

Nothing comes up in my Opera browswer??? Is the URL correct?


works for me.

Dang, still doesn’t work for me, and I tried MSIE and Opera again. Same results for both, page can’t be displayed.


hmmm, I just clicked on the link and got it with Mozilla.
Try typing in just the home part of the url: and see if the home page comes up. Don’t copy/paste, sometimes an extra space gets copied in and it won’t work.
The article is listed about half way down the home page and is titled IFR departures: Don’t I just fly runway heading? etc…
It looks like there are some more good articles to read as well.
If that doesn’t work I don’t know what to tell you, its way to big to paste here.
Let us know if that works.

Thanks Porterjet

Somebody was generous enough to send me the article to my Gmail account.

Link you provided worked so I was able to get it via the main page as well.


While that article is written for virtual pilots, is does have some pretty good info.
Departure procedures from a controlled airport can be as easy as “fly runway heading” or “turn right 320” before contacting departure; to difficult ones like one I do often, the Teterboro Five off of runways 19 or 24:

Climb runway heading until leaving 800 feet, then
turn right heading 280^. Maintain 1500 feet until crossing the TEB R-250 and
passing TEB 4.5 DME, then climb and maintain 2000 feet (non-DME aircraft
maintain 1500 feet until crossing PNJ NDB 015^ bearing, then climb and
maintain 2000 feet.) Thence . . . .

24 is similar.
Even more complicated are DPs in montainous terrian, like this one out of Aspen (KASE)

TAKE-OFF RUNWAY 33: Climb heading 340^ to 8700, then climbing left turn to
16,000 heading 270^ to intercept and proceed via I-PKN NW course (outbound on
backcourse) and DBL R-244 outbound to GLENO INT/DBL 22.7 DME. Climb in GLENO
holding pattern (SW, LT, 064^ inbound) to cross GLENO at 16,000, then via assigned
Route/Transition. All aircraft maintain 16,000, expect filed altitude 10 minutes after

:open_mouth: Huh? :wink:

Out of uncontrolled airports the unaware could find themselves in a world of hurt. For instance, I was leaving an airport in West Virginia once, and the clearance I got over the phone with the release time was “Direct XYZ VOR.” That’s all well and good, but there’s a mountain between the airport and the VOR. You have to make sure you read the obstacle clearance departure and follow it; which was something like turn left to cross over the field and fly the 183 radial to ABC VOR, climb to 7000 before proceeding on course, if you’re not at 7000 before reaching ABC VOR, climb in holding pattern on the 183 radial… I did just that, and when we got in touch with the controller after takeoff he asked us where we were going. I told him we were following the departure procedure instructions so we don’t run into any cumulo-granite. (i didnt really) He was quiet after that. had I followed his instructions we would have run smack into the hillside. (it’s happened plenty of times before. one recent report I read was a lifeguard Lear finishing up a long day in the middle of the night and ran into a mountain after leaving… Palm springs maybe? I cant remember the airport, but they just flew out straight, didnt follow the procedures and killed themselves.)
It’s easier to miss if you’re using NOS charts, you have to see the little ‘alternate takeoff minimums’ symbol on the plate and flip to the front of the book. With Jepp charts theyre right there on the back of the airport diagram. (or on their own page).

Fly Safe.

Now, I ain’t no dummy :smiley:

If I was in that neck of the woods, I would put no DP in my flight plan and let ATC help me out of that mess. I’d be afraid of gumming up the works with one “false move”.

Yeah, I may be vectored king dom kong, but I have heard (don’t know from personal experiences) that ATC will vector you through the standard DP procedures anyway?


Excellent points have been made.
You are ultimately responsible for not hitting the mountains.
PSP and Brown field in San Diego (SDM) have both had bad departure accidents.
In the PSP accident it was exactly as pointed out, the crew did not follow the clearance. How? if I remember correctly they flew through the radial they were supposed to catch before they started looking at the HSI, never noticed they were already through it.
At SDM a crew took off late at night after arriving on a previous night so they never saw the rather large mountains just east of the airport. They departed VFR, called San Diego approach control for a clearance while staying under the TCA (in those days) and out of Tijuana’s airspace. Ran into the mountains while approach was getting the flight plan. If you want to research these accidents the first one had Frank Sinatra’s mother on board the second had Reba Mcentire’s band on board. Fortunately she decided to stay in San Diego an extra day.
Both were in jets which proves that the terrain can climb faster than a jet.
There have also been accidents while being vectored. Not supposed to happen but a controller can get busy, lose radar with you or whatever. Keep track of your position.
The DP will give you a good clue if there are obstacles around. Or, in the absence of a DP check out other local airports.
For those who may eventually fly outside the US, one thing you notice right away involves the “cross XYZ at or above 4000, cleared for the approach.” clearance you get domestically. Almost nowhere overseas that I’ve been will the clearance include the altitude, you’re supposed to follow the charts and do it on your own. A friend of mine who flies for American says one that gets most new FOs is the decent into Santiago, Chile. Its not uncommon to be flying down the airway over the Andes and get a clearance to 8000 Ft. He has to point out to the FO that he better check the enroute charts, because the MEA where they are at may be 19,000 ft. for another 50 miles.
fly safe,

While I agree with you that a smart pilot does not just depend on ATC for safe terrain avoidance, I don’t think either case proves that terrain can climb faster than jets. In the SDM case, the plane wasn’t even climbing as they were staying under the TCA (now Class B). What both accidents do prove it that even well equipped and multi-crew aircraft can make basic mistakes and so single pilot basic aircraft should exercise extra care.

For a couple thousand dollars any plane can now be equipped with simple GPS based terrain avoidance. While the portable units are not FAA approved TAWS devices, I have noticed that the Garmin 396/496 gives the same information as my TAWS system. Beyond flying a published or “home brewed” departure procedure, flying the opposite direction on an instrument approach procedure will also give you known obstacle clearance provided that you can maintain the published altitudes.

Maybe I should have said terrain can climb faster than jets if the crew isn’t paying attention.
TAWS is a great invention, I am a bit worried that it may encourage scud running, but overall it is a good thing. I was in the right seat when we did the certification flights for ours. Lots of fun flying doing things you don’t normally do in a G2.

A trick I’ve learned is to compare my departure clearance with a VFR chart. I know that sounds simple, but I think a majority of IFR pilots simply stick their sectionals in a bag and forget about them.

You do this when you get an amended clearance in the air AND fly the plane in the clag? You definately multitask better then me. :smiley:

On the ground, unless your clearance is other then the published DP, I can see the possibilities of using a VFR sectional IF YOU ARE doing a non standard departure.

Actually, I have not used a VFR sectional on any of my IFR flights. Since I go GPS direct, I just file above the OROCA altitude taking into account any MOA’s and be happy.

The airports I depart do not have DP, so other then radar vectors, on course headings are what I usually execute for departures.


Good question Allen, I guess I could be more specific. Mostly I use the VFR chart on the ground to compare with a non standard departure clearance. I mostly run into this at smaller airports in the eastern mountains.

Don’t use so much in the air unless i have an extra set of hands, but occasionally if I’m VMC with the peaks obscured it might be a good idea to cross check the sectional to avoid a IMC climb into rock, especially if I don’t have terrain on the GPS. Fortunately that’s a thing of the past.

Using the sectional is a great tool, good reminder from Magnetoz.
Most of us get so used to arriving and departing using published procedures or when the weather is good that we don’t even think about using it. Even a quick glance at the sectional will give you a good idea if there is some sort of obstruction that should be avoided. Direct, on course climbs are fine but unless its an airport you are familiar with you don’t know if there is one of those 3000’ TV towers out there waiting to bite you. Remember, you are responsible for not hitting it, not the FAA. They only provide you the information.

All man made obstacles are clearly marked on approach plates.

VFR sectional wouldn’t have anything more then an approach plate.

The only thing additional that a VFR sectional or even a TAC would have are land based visual references such as buildings, lakes and the like which would be really useless in the clag :slight_smile:


A Sectional does have a color scale elevation which could be useful even in full IMC as long as you remain situationally aware. Although, I guess current approach plates do include a limited amount of color elevation.

VFR sectional wouldn’t have anything more then an approach plate.

No, but I was talking about out of the way airports where there are no published approaches or departures.

The color scale would be for natural terrain obstructions, mountains and valleys sorta like a contour map and not for antennas or man made objects which porterjet was referring to.

The big number in the 30 NM block VFR chart for obstacle clearance wouldn’t be of any more help since OROCA would be a higher number anyway.

While IFR, unless you can maintain visual contact with the ground, while enroute, it would behoove you to maintain OROCA altitudes espciallly in IMC.


Then you wouldn’t be doing an instrument approach anyway as weather would have to be basic minimum VFR conditions. I used to fly into L31 frequently and they do not have an instrument approach.

Yes, you are correct, then one must be aware of towers and the like for departures for in which a sectional is the only source for obstacle clearance.

Of course, you wouldn’t need the VFR sectional in the plane anyway, since you have better mapped out your departure WAAAAY before flipping the master switch on and launching into IMC conditions.

Any less planning then that would be reckless in my opinion!