Question About Picking Up IFR Clearance out of Chicago

Hey guys,

I’m a somwhat new instument pilot that hasnt done much IFR flying out of uncontrolled fields. Anyways, I have a upcoming trip out of a small airport about 5 miles away from KORD, Schaumberg Regional (06C). I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some assistance with picking up IFR clearance out of the Chicago area with such busy Approach Freqs. Which would be the best way to do it?

Thanks for your help and I hope this isnt a stupid question!

That airport appears to be VFR only, there are no instrument approaches to that airport. You would have to depart VFR and open the IFR clearance while enroute.

Look at an approach plate or airport diagram for the airport you’re departing from. If it’s reasonably advanced, it will have a clearance delivery frequency that allows you to talk on the ground to the nearest clearance facility. If it does, you just call them and treat it like normal clearance delivery. They’ll clear you to your destination and ask you to call them when you’re #1 for departure for IFR release. You’ll call 'em back and they’ll give you a release time with a “void if not off by” time. You have to depart by the void time or call them to cancel your clearance. Then, you contact departure when you’re clear of the pattern and it’s like normal.

If they don’t have a clearance relay, you have two options:

  1. You can call +1-800-WX-BRIEF and say you’re ready to depart and need an IFR clearance. They’ll phone clearance delivery for you and relay the clearance (with the void time).

  2. If you can get into the air VFR (above VFR weather minimums, no class bravo clearance necessary, etc), you can just depart like normal, stay under/out of the class bravo, and call up departure (you can get the frequency off an approach plate for the airport or a nearby airport or off a low enroute chart) and say you’re in the air [xx] miles [direction] of [airport] and ready for an IFR clearance.

Thanks for the help guys…sorry for the newbie question!


The AFSS might also be able to provide a phone number for you to be able to talk to the control facility to pick up your clearance that way, too.

Might I suggest that if the weather is not great than the best bet is to pick it up over the phone rather than to try and fly the airplane in dodgy weather while trying to copy/readback/set up a clearance.

Not a bad question at all!

I concur with the telephone methods mentioned earlier. But if the weather is low you might have a problem.

Any CFII’s, please feel free to correct me on this (I am IFR, but not CFII, so don’t take my word as gospel), but you have to maintain VFR until you can enter controlled airspace (class E), which looks to be 700 ft AGL in that area. If there is overcast below that, you can’t fly in it while in class G airspace.

KPWK and KDPA are both class D and controlled airspace goes all the way to the surface, if you have a choice.

If the weather is good VMC, I might consider departing VFR and picking up the clearance via radio AFTER clear of the Chicago area due to the freq congestion. But on the other hand, lots of radio traffic means lots of airplane traffic, so if any doubt at all, go the telephone route. Even though VMC, ATC will give you an initial vector that will keep you out of the way of the major airport traffic until they get you on radar.

In my long experience often the best way to find out how to get a clearance is to call and ask the FBO. They usually know the most expedited procedure.

As I stated earlier, if the weather is below VFR minimums, youre not going anywhere. That is a VFR only airport, there are no instrument approach procedures published. You would need to pick up the clearance after departure.

For clarification (I mentioned both VMC and IMC), I’m pretty sure you can get your IFR clearance even from the ground at an uncontrolled airport. What you can’t do is fly IFR until you are in controlled airspace above the airport. You must maintain VFR until within the controlled airspace. Is that what you are saying?

I disagree. Many FBOs do not have knowledgeable staff answering the phone. Some do, some don’t, some think they do and will tell you wrong.

Isn’t information of that type a primary responsibility of Flight Service?

Technically, you can fly all day in class G airspace in IMC without an IFR clearance. Is it smart? Hell no. Is it legal? Yup. Does the FAA always make sense? Nope!

Uh… class G day minimums: 1 mile and clear of clouds. Night: 3 miles and 500/1000/2000.

The last part I wholeheartedly agreed with! :slight_smile:

Not really, I did all of my training at an uncontrolled airport, youre absolutely correct about filing with FSS, and getting the clearance and void time from approach either on the ground on a landline, in the airplane from a cellphone, or on a GCO or RCO. But that system only works if there is a published instrument approach to the airport. I looked yesterday, and there are no IFR procedures listed for that airport, it is VFR only. If the weather is crap, there are no IFR takeoff minimums listed (the standard minimums would be on the approach plate, or, on NOS charts, if theres a “T” in a triangle, there are alternate takeoff minimums listed in the front of the approach book. For Jepp charts, the takeoff mins are under the airport diagram)
Without an approach plate to look at, how would a pilot know that there isnt a mountain 2 miles from the departure end of the airport? You cannot leave that airport in IMC.

Thats correct, however, you CAN fly IFR in class G airspace without an IFR flight plan. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me, look it up.

Remember, for part 91 there are no departure minimums. All the departure minimums printed are for 135/121 operations. You can legally launch zero/zero part 91. Not smart, but legal. I submit that a good minimum for part 91 is wx no lower than the minimums for the approach in use in case you need to come back in a hurry. As for departing IFR from an uncontrolled VFR only airport, that can be done too. All you need to do is pick up the clearance before entering controlled airspace. Whether you do that in the air or on the ground is your choice.

I did. I don’t find that anywhere. By the nature of class G being uncontrolled, I thought you couldn’t fly IFR there, which means that VFR minimums prevail.

91.173 ATC clearance and flight plan required.
No person may operate an aircraft in controlled airspace under IFR unless that person has
(a) Filed an IFR flight plan; and
(b) Received an appropriate ATC clearance.

It doesn’t mention UNcontrolled. To me, that inferrs that you cannot operate IFR in UNcontrolled airspace, but I can’t find anything that specifically prohibits it. There’s bound to be something somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet. Can you point me?

I’m with you on everything EXCEPT operating zero/zero in UNcontrolled airspace. Controlled, like class D, okay, but confused on UNcontrolled. I’ve have always understaood that you cannot get an IFR clearance in UNcontrolled airspace, and therefore VFR minimums apply until you reach controlled airspace.

I think we are all responding in real-time here. Don’t any of us have jobs? :slight_smile: (actually it’s my day off)

A VERY good point! Even though there are no mountains in Chicago, there are buildings and towers that need to be avoided.

Now you’ve inspired me to do some research on how to know what’s there to be avoided without an IAP chart. I’ll get back to you on that! :slight_smile:

“Except when associated with a temporary control tower, ATC does not have responsibility for or authority over aircraft in class G airspace; however, most of the regulations affecting pilots and aircraft still apply. For example, although a flight plan is not required for IFR operations in class G airspace, both pilot and aircraft must still be fully qualified for IFR flight.”
From my Jepp Instrument/Commercial Manual.

“Pilots may dare to fly IFR in uncontrolled airspace without an ATC clearance and IFR flight plan, but this is about as sane as IFR banner towing. Such action would have fascinated Dr. Frued. First of all, pilots would have to create their own airways, charting their own terrain clearance and VOR reception altitudes. Of course, since the entire concept of IFR flight in uncontrolled airspace is slightly insane, a bonifide nut shouldnt be troubled with these complications! Second, pilots would never know if someone else was aviating in the same airspace and altitude. Flying IFR in uncontrolled airspace is a daredevil stunt thats best left to people with metal plates in their heads. Dont do it! Besides, people with metal plates are frequently getting lost because the magnetic compass always points to their heads!”
Rod Machado’s Instrument Survival Manual

I could find more in the FAR’s but as we all know its not exactly “easy reading”.

Dont forget, there are areas of the country where Class G airspace goes all the way to 14,500ft.