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5 Answers

Cloud clearances take-off and landing

Asked by: 907 views ,
General Aviation, Weather

Local field, KCTY, is under Class E airspace. So ground to 700' MSL is G, 700'+ is E. For the purpose of this question the cloud deck is at 1200' MSL and 10sm visibility; therefore the field would be reporting VFR conditions. Pattern altitude is 1000' MSL.

I am questioning if I can legally depart the field or arrive at the field? If I fly the pattern altitude I am 200' below the clouds in E and therefore illegal.  Can I stay below 700' and ignore the pattern altitude to get out of the E ring then climb to 1000' MSL in G to travel to KCDK where E starts at 1200' MSL?



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5 Answers

  1. Kris Kortokrax on Jun 25, 2017

    There is no regulation that requires you to adhere to any pattern altitude. AIM paragraph 4-3-3 contains the following language:

    “Traffic pattern altitudes should be maintained unless otherwise required by the applicable distance from cloud criteria (14 CFR Section 91.155).”

    There is a regulation (91.155) that requires you to remain 500′ below the clouds in Class E. There is also 91.119 to consider. That requires you to be 500′ AGL over other than congested areas (except for takeoff and landing). It kind of wedges you in.

    If you flew at 600′ AGL, you would satisfy 91.119 and you would be clear of clouds (91.155 in Class G).

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  2. MarkO on Jun 25, 2017

    I believe you meant to refer to AGL altitude in your question, so I will reference that.

    You can proceed to or depart from this airport under VFR below 700′ AGL in class G airspace as long as you do not vioate minimum altitude requirements. 14CFR91.119 outlines the minimum altitude for other than congested areas as 500′ AGL and from people and vessels/structures. It also allows for even lower when necessary for takeoff and landing. Keep in mind that flying at “low” altitudes requires more careful planning for the event of an engine failure in compliance with subparagraph (a) of that part.

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  3. CTH6 on Jun 26, 2017

    Correct, AGL. My error.

    Thank you both, that was the information that I was looking for.

    Follow on question, how can a Class D airport in bigger city, say KORL, be VFR with clouds at 1,000’AGL? You could never legally depart without busting 14CFR 91.119 or 91.155 unless you had a special clearance.

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  4. MarkO on Jun 26, 2017

    Special VFR and traffic pattern ops.

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  5. Mark Kolber on Jul 01, 2017

    >>how can a Class D airport in bigger city, say KORL, be VFR with clouds at 1,000’AGL?

    What kind of clouds? Technicalities matter.

    The rule doesn’t say clouds below 1,000′, it says “ceiling is less than 1,000 feet.” That, as you know, means overcast or broken, not scattered or few.

    If we’re talking ceiling, CHT6 gave the answer.

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