I just listened to episode #424 and wanted to comment of flight following.
1. Not so long ago I finished my private pilot training and remember only a few times my private pilot instructor mentioning flight following but not going into great detail about it. I have a few theories on why this may be the case. I think it's sort of like the education system we have in America at public schools and teaching only the topics related to standardized testing. If it's not testable why teach it? And instructors, I believe, are evaluated on how many student pass or fail a check-ride, right?
2. For those pilots that don't use it on cross country flights I feel it's a bit irresponsible. And if you have no clue how to use it then maybe you really are not that passionate about flying. I say this because passion brings about a sort of desire to learn and want to absorb everything like a sponge. This passion leads to reading of flight related magazines and other content like podcasts, etc. It also leads to this great invention we have called the internet and the ability to search any topic in question. So I have to conclude that maybe these folks not using flight following, or turning off the transponder as they fly over class delta, or avoid any airspace considered confusing is due to a lack of personal interest by the pilot to really have the desire to learn about it.
3. I'd like to highly recommend a book Radio Mastery for VFR Pilots by Jeff Kanarish. He also has a VFR communications podcast and an IFR communications podcast. This book takes the reader thru very detailed explanations as to how one should properly talk to ATC. I mean it goes into goes into the common mistakes like "with you" when checking into another controller while on flight following, etc. He talks about how to shorten communications, etc. After reading it I created a cheat sheet for uncontrolled and controlled airspace, to include flight following. I've always used flight following since then and even feel confident flying into controlled airspace. Highly recommend.
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