Here's a time-saving trick for IFR pilots who want to depart their home airport VFR and then have the option of easily picking up an IFR routing midflight.
To do it, simply fill out an IFR flight plan form as you normally would, but input a VFR cruising altitude (for example, 8,500 feet) in the altitude block, with "VFR flight following" written in the remarks section.
This will hold your flight plan with ATC rather than Flight Service. Now you can depart VFR and pick up flight following from ATC, with the benefit being the controller will see your planned routing in the system and won't have to ask a bunch questions about your intentions.
If you later decide you need to pick up an IFR flight plan because of cloud cover, it's easier at this point for the controller to convert your VFR flight plan to an IFR routing because your basic information and planned route are already in the system.
We welcome your comments on flyingmag.com. In order to maintain a respectful environment, we ask that all comments be on-topic, respectful and spam-free. All comments made here are public and may be republished by Flying.