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VFR minimum distance from clouds

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Commercial Pilot, FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

All of us know the VFR minimum distance from clouds. My question is how can we comply with this rule since there is no way, to measure the required distances between us and the clouds? Is it possible for the FAA to know that I am flying 400' below the cloud instead of the required 500' in C, D, and E. �

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2 Answers



  1. Jim F. on Jul 14, 2013

    No, it’s all pretty much a guess on both sides. About the most accurate indication there is would be your ATC radar return showing your altitude compared to the cloud bases reported by ATIS, AWOS, PIREPS, etc… Now even with that, air traffic controllers aren’t cops and won’t report that, let alone pay attention to it. Now, if an unscrupulous FAA inspector did this, I suppose it may be possible to receive a violation, but I have never heard of such.

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  2. Mark Heilpern on Jul 14, 2013

    I think it’s not the FAA you need to be worried about. Rather, you need to be worried about the IFR pilot that is going to emerge from the clouds on top of you, and since you’re too close he may not have time to react.

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