By Peter Maria 1376778
#521339 I've recently wanted to fly VFR, either for sight seeing or practicing approaches.

Case 1 (VFR): Depart airport A, fly around VFR without a specific flight plan, land at either airport A or B. How do I file / request that?

Case 2 (VFR): Practice approaches with touch and go in something like PMDG 737. This would be conducted VFR but using the ILS or visually at my discretion. I was denied this previously, then told to remain in the pattern along with a guy in a Cessna. What I was wanting to do was fly the departure procedure, then then turn back to the AD to practice the approach and landing.

Case 3 (IFR): I'm at my cruising FL approaching the FMS indicated TOD. I've not been cleared yet to descend via <STAR>. Do I ask ATC for descent clearance at TOD, or wait for them to contact me? Would the phraseology be: "Center, FLT123 request descent via STAR"?
By Josh Glottmann 1275389
#521343 1) You don't necessarily need to file a flightplan.
If you were to file one, the best way to go about it would be by including the initial departure airport and final destination airport (which you intend to complete at full stop at). Then you can list the airports you are conducting touch-and-gos at as intermediate waypoints.

2) You can conduct VFR practice approaches. Depending on which airspace you conduct them in and whether the controller can provide it to you, you may have traffic separation provided as if you were IFR. With that said, I guess you could do a pattern in a jet and just request a longer downwind and conduct the approaches at your own discretion.

3) Assuming you have any hard or expected crossing restrictions programmed properly (and thus calculated an appropriate top of descent), you should request a descent if you haven't received one yet. I'd say 0 to 10 miles from your top of descent is an appropriate time to ask.
By Robert Shearman Jr 1155655
#521357
Peter Maria 1376778 wrote:Case 1 (VFR): Depart airport A, fly around VFR without a specific flight plan, land at either airport A or B. How do I file / request that?

Filing a VFR flight plan is optional, but I usually do one. Origin and destination ICAO codes are self-explanatory (and can be the same in case you are are starting and ending at the same airport); no Alternate needs to be specified, and for Route you can just put "VFR" or even "VFR northbound" or something like that. If your origin is a Class B (US -- or equivalent elsewhere), you still need an explicit clearance; so, "XXXX Ground, Mooney 5-3-1-Mike-Delta, we have Information Juliet, request Bravo clearance for a VFR northbound departure." If you're in a Charlie or Delta or other towered field, "XXXX Ground, Mooney 5-3-1-Mike-Delta, we have information Juliet, request taxi to active for a VFR northbound departure."

In either case, if you want Flight Following, (1) include your full aircraft type in the initial request, then (2) after "departure." add "Request Flight Following to {destination} at {xxxx} feet {your intended cruise altitude}." Example: "XXXX Ground, Mooney 5-3-1-Mike-Delta, we're a Mooney Bravo type Mike-two-zero-Tango, information Juliet, request Bravo clearance for VFR northbound departure, flight following to XXXX at 7500 feet."

When your request is going to contain a lot of information like that, especially when it includes the Flight Following info, you should probably get the controller's attention with just "XXXX Ground, Mooney 5-3-1-Mike-Delta, VFR request" first, and wait for a "go ahead." That is a courtesy which alerts them that they're going to need to copy a bunch of information at once.

Peter Maria 1376778 wrote:Case 2 (VFR): Practice approaches with touch and go in something like PMDG 737. This would be conducted VFR but using the ILS or visually at my discretion. I was denied this previously, then told to remain in the pattern along with a guy in a Cessna. What I was wanting to do was fly the departure procedure, then then turn back to the AD to practice the approach and landing.

I would've thought requesting an Instrument Approach Procedure when filed VFR would be questionable but Josh didn't mention it. He's a controller; I'm not. But, it may have been due to controller workload or traffic levels; sometimes during high-traffic situations a controller isn't reasonably able to accommodate practice approaches. This is true in the real world as well. See viewtopic.php?f=7&t=75497

Peter Maria 1376778 wrote:Case 3 (IFR): I'm at my cruising FL approaching the FMS indicated TOD. I've not been cleared yet to descend via <STAR>. Do I ask ATC for descent clearance at TOD, or wait for them to contact me? Would the phraseology be: "Center, FLT123 request descent via STAR"?

Yeah, happens all the time. Usually I'll just poke them with an "XXXXX Center, Southwest 531, request descent instructions" and they'll figure out what you're waiting for.