Cessna 172 in airspace question

Hello IFC 👋🏻

I am currently flying to KVKX which is only about 8nm from KDCA and KIAD. When I fly in and ATIS says no light aircraft allowed for KIAD and KDCA I can still come in and fly into KVKX (a small GA airport) right? If I can would I still contact approach or just fly right in? Just wanna make sure this is ok


You can contact approach and ask for “flight following”. They will warn you of traffic and hand you off when you near the airport.

Light aircraft are accepted.

If no approach is active and you intend to go within 5nm of IAD or DCA and under 5000 feet, request transition.


Ok so if there’s approach I request flight following, not an approach

Yes, as it’s out of the coverage area so you can’t request an approach.

If you are VFR, ask for flight following or radar vectors.

Ok thanks. Just wondering what’s the difference between flight following and radar vectors

Flight following is VFR flight, where you are telling the controller you are VFR

Radar vectors is where the approach controller vectors you towards the airport, then hands you off to Unicom.

Both flight following and radar vectors are for VFR aircraft.

With flight following, you navigate yourself. The controller may give you an altitude or heading to avoid traffic or simply issue a “traffic alert”. As a VFR aircraft, it is your job to maintain separation with other aircraft.

Radar vectors is also for VFR aircraft. The controller will give you vectors and establish you in one of the legs of the pattern (downwind, base, or final). The will then hand you to tower or unicom.

Questions are welcome!

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Ok thank you! What would you say is better or does it also depend on how busy the airspace is @Will_A

If you’re at the hub, I’d recommend radar vectors simply because you may not be allowed to have a flight following. Approach will want you in their line.

If you’re simply passing through their airspace but your arrival airport is empty or not busy, I’d choose flight following. It allows you to navigate yourself.

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Sorry for all the questions (kinda not related to this) so if for example I’m flying into KSFO in a 777 and there’s approach would I ask for approach or radar vectors?

If you’re flying in a 777 to KSFO over KIAD, chances are you won’t be over approach airspace which goes up to 18,000 feet AAL. So you can just fly over and not have to do anything.

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@TimShan05 covered overflying approach’s airspace, but I wanted to address your question on approaching KSFO. You can request either service (nothing wrong with either), and controllers will do their best to honor your request.

If it’s busy, there’s a chance you’ll be told to expect vectors for the ILS approach. However, when traffic isn’t that bad, I personally will assign you radar vectors, and many other controllers do this as well.

I hope this answers your question!


Good day,

I was your controller. Both kiad and kdca allow light if not busy. If we are slammed we may decide to change that until traffic dies down. Using approach or departure for crossing the airpsace is fine. Request FF and follow instructions if given and you’ll be golden. When you started your first flight I know you want viz 19 but the tower controller had northbound setup so that’s why I gave you what I did. I had you setup on the transition for arrive viz 1 or 33.

Great job flying to Potomac, done that one many times myself.

Happy flying,


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