Picking Up an IFR at a VOR


OK, I’m tired of getting descended from the mid-teens IFR overflying New York or flying crummy out of the way routings.

How have you guys actually FILED an IFR Flight plan from a VOR and from whom did you pick it up? Obviously there is no’clearance delivery’at a VOR and I’d like to have it prefiled to avoid the hassle and potential problem of not being able to airfile on a busy sector.

I’d like, either on top [getting there from a VFR location] or straight VFR, file a flight plan [EXAMPLE] into BWI from OOD. This way I can fly VFR over NYC at some efficient altitude and heading and then, file IFR OOD V268 BWI [a TEC] at 8000.

I presume if I’m getting flight following I can simply tell the sector controller who is close to OOD that I have an IFR to BWI that I’d like to pick up from OOD VOR. I’m assuming thats how that is gonna work *.

Just curious, I need to add this to my bag of tricks. . . my question is that using DUATS it refused my flight plan claiming that the VOR was not an airport in the database - DOH - of course not. Does this need to be done with an FSS instead to get to work?*


Well, as a controller, I feel obligated to say that you are better off just filing from apt to apt as you do, and accepting the delay that comes with it. The safest place is on the ground. As for avoiding pref routes, keep in mind that the whole point of the pref routes is to keep you seperated from other traffic.

Pref routes are designed to keep climbing and descending aircraft apart (although out here in the NE there is just too many airports to make it seem sucessful). Remember, if you depart VFR from any airport, even if you file an IFR flight plan, you’re priority number 2 behind the IFR planes that waited thier turn and are already IFR. If you aren’t on the pref route that keeps you away from the busy crappy sectors, the controller may not have time to issue a clearance.

As for your composite flight plan idea, FSS is the way to go, though I don’t think i’ve ever seen it, so they might be confused, as would be the controller you request it from.

Your best option would most likely be to simply file your entire apt-apt flight plan with the pref route…and then depart VFR, and when you are done cutting corners in your route and can accept a new altitude, call up and ask for your IFR. There is an issue with this however. If you fly beyond the airspace of your departure facility, the next facililty might not have your flight plan immediately available.

Oh, and i suppose I do see composite flight plans from international air carrier flights that have an FAA flight plan that starts at the first fix outside US airspace. With that said, if you want to file a flight plan from a fix, simply estimate your time over that fix, and that is your proposed departure time. So, lets say you are going to depart at 2255z. Its an hour flight vfr to OOD and then along your route. So, you’d file your OOD.V268.BWI route with P2355z so the strip prints at the correct time.



I am surprised to hear this from a controller in the Northeast. I flew up to Westminstor MD (DMW) for my first time about a month ago, and the worst thing I could have done for myself was file direct.

As I got closer to my destination, my clearance was amended to get on the airways, and having gone direct, made for a little difficulty on “situational awareness” since I was between VOR’s. I had the enroute map folded nice and neat on the back seat, so I immediatetly fessed up to approach controllers asking for assistance until I got my plane and self configured. By me fessing up, controllers were more then gracefull to keep an eye on me while getting “oriented” to my new clearance.

Lessons learned, next time, I will file airways at least from Martinsburg WV to my final destination.

Personally, I’d take radar vectors any day over self navigation if direct isn’t available. Lessons the workload tons big time.

(from the land of the direct routings as you can see from my tracking N1943L!).


When i say file apt=apt, i mean with the correct pref route. This is opposed to the discussion about filed a composite flight plan that is navaid-airport or visa versa.



Be careful what you wish for. The Controllers in England love to give vectors except that they are giving me vectors up an airway. 3 and 4 degree heading changes to keep me on the airway when the airplane could do a better job holding the centerline of the course. Drives me crazy.


I’m not worried about the route - but about the altitudes - if I’m VFR I can fly @ 10k or 12 or 14k over NYC, but if IFR I’m at 6k. When I’m PAST NYC I can be any altitude I want - so - if I pick up an IFR AFTER the ‘block’ in the system then I get what I want and the NYC ATC gets what they need. . .

Delta Mike =- so, can I presume that if I correctly estimate my time over a fix [within the 2 hr window] I can file OOD.V268.BWI so long as I pickup my clearance from an approach or center controller inside Washington Center, which is where OOD is located? And then when you query the system my flight plan should be in there?

I ma NOt filing an VFR flight plan - only IFR and using flight following VFR until I pick up the IFR - a composite flight plan is too confusing for everyone involved . . .


Could ATC be doing this for traffic seperation purposes? Maybe having you do “S” turns to prevent you from overtaking the guy in front of you?



I asked one time what the reason for the multiple heading changes was for. The controller responded that it was to keep me on the airway. I asked if he had the complete route I was going to fly through his airspace. He said yes. I then asked why he was vectoring me up the airway and not just let the airplane navigate on it’s own. Silence. Mind you I was asking for knowledge, not to be a smart *ss.

If it was an overtaking situation a speed change would be more effective than penalty vectors but the heading changes are so slight that it would be useless for that purpose.


Thats gotta be a Gulfstream you are in - lucky chap!! Probably spoken to you before, hope I wasnt the smart ass who didnt respond to you - LOL!!

Our ATC system (UK) with lots of a/c in relatively little space causes as many problems to ourselves as it does to the pilots - we would love to let you guys fly where you want in a/c that are far more advanced than our proceedures but in a nut shell we have to prove (ensure) our separation when climbing/descending on crossing or adjacent tracks = multiple heading instructions even along an airway = more work for you rather then letting the a/c fly itself = more chat for us.
From what I know of European airspace we do seem excessive with heading instructions in the UK but maybe that is preferable to a/c wizzing around (free flight concept) and trusting TCAS to keep separation not the controller.



Which is all well and good except I was never more than .4 of a mile from the centerline of the airway I was cleared down and don’t even get me started on the topic of slots.



Talk to flight service about starting your flight plan from OOD, and then give them a proposal time as close as you can to when you estimate passing the VOR. If you get resistance regarding that plan, then just pick the closest airport and file from there dir OOD…etc… Then once you’re IFR let the controller know where you actually departed from. Its a quick amendment.

As far as your estimate at the VOR goes, I believe you have a 2.5 hour window of opportunity. The information is generated about 30 minutes prior to the system thinks your flight will enter the first sector, in this case, your P time. Then, depending on the setting ZDC has in its computer, you have a certain amount of time AFTER your P time before your flight plan times out. ZBWs is 2 hours. Its depends on time and weather. If there are many delays coming or going during bad weather, they may increase that time so that late aircraft aren’t dropped. YOu should be able to call FSS while airborne or before you depart if you think you need to adjust your OOD time.

I hope that helps.


EDIT: I should add that you should be careful if you have to file from an airpoart near OOD…

Sometimes there are some local routes that differ if you depart from that airport. There may be a different route from THAT airport near OOD than if you departed north and are an overflight. If that is the case, try to pick the closest airport INSIDE of ZDC that has no pref routes. It might take a few times to get it right.