Flying with a friend from Oshkosh back to New Jersey, I called up clearance delivery at our first fuel stop, a leg from Muskegon County Airport on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to Burke Lakefront Airport on the southern shore of Lake Erie — and was pleased to hear those magic words: "Cleared as filed."
Satisfied we were ready to go, I made last minute preparations to depart, but didn't touch the Garmin GNS 430 navigator.
"Don't you need to input our IFR route?" my friend in the right seat asked.
"Already did," I said. "I filed direct."
In the era of WAAS GPS, the FAA would actually prefer pilots fly direct as often as possible. On the East Coast and other busy parts of the country that's almost never possible because of circuitous routing made necessary by the high density of air traffic.
But that doesn't mean you still can't hear those magic words.
The latest version of the ForeFlight Mobile app, for example, will alert you prior to departure if ATC has amended your proposed IFR routing. You may then amend your routing through ForeFlight so that when you show up at the airplane you know exactly what route ATC will want you to fly and can be prepared.
It might not be a direct route, but chances are the clearance delivery controller will give you the good news: "Cleared as filed."
That's music to any pilot's ears.
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