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So here is a question about smoke...

Here in NW America, we have had no shortage of smoke recently which has led to consider the following. Our airfield has had 3SM visibility with smoke all the way to the ground. Assuming a PVT pilot without an instrument rating wants to fly how does this work? The airspace is D surrounded by E. Even though we have 3SM vis, the smoke is touching the ground so the cloud clearances do not work. Does smoke count in cloud clearances? Thanks!

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1 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Sep 26, 2012

    As long as the smoke is diffuse enough to see thru it with a flight visibility of 3 SM, the conditions are VFR. Smoke close to the fire is typically going to form a cloud and you should maintain normal cloud distances any smoke in the form of a cloud. If you can’t see thru it, keep your distance. There are likely to be TFR’s and NOTAMS around smoke that will require you to remain clear for fire fighting aircraft. Also, since smoke is highly reflective, you may have 3 SM with the sun at your back but virtually no visibility with the sun in your face. If you haven’t flown in visibility of 3 SM, even though it meets the legal VFR minimum, it will be more difficult if not impossible to see familiar landmarks and other aircraft. Maintaining situational awareness is correspondingly more difficult.

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