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Old 11-24-2008, 06:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Special VFR!

Can somebody please explain to me what a special vfr is?

is it for day:

1 sm visibility and clear of clouds
plane instrument certified, and pilot instrument rated

for night:

3 sm visibility and clear of clouds
plane instrument certified, and pilot instrument rated
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Old 11-24-2008, 06:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Day and night are both 1SM Clear of Clouds, however to have Special VFR at night the pilot must be Instrument rated (specifies nothing about currency) and in an IFR Certified Airplane.
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Old 11-24-2008, 09:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The very best place to start with something that is dealt with the the FAR is to start with the FAR

Start with FAR 1.1. "Special VFR conditions mean meteorological conditions that are less than those required for basic VFR flight in controlled airspace and in which some aircraft are permitted flight under visual flight rules."

The read FAR 91.157.

What does it say to answer your questions? Do you have any questions after reading it? (You probably do)
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Old 11-24-2008, 10:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Longbow64 View Post
Can somebody please explain to me what a special vfr is?

is it for day:

1 sm visibility and clear of clouds
plane instrument certified, and pilot instrument rated

for night:

3 sm visibility and clear of clouds
plane instrument certified, and pilot instrument rated
The other guys explained what it is, but what is good for?

I would not recommend departing for any destination under SFVR, especially at night. It can be useful for situations where the low vis is due to haze only and is NOT likely to turn into clouds or hard IMC.

1. Pattern Work.
2. Approach/Landing in SOCAL in the late afternoon. Winds are westerly, and the sun sets in the west. Combined with haze/smog, this can a create a low-vis situation making it hard to return to your home base late in the day.

Theoretically, you could get clearance to go from one airport to another in a large metro area where both airports and the route are under B airspace, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you are VERY familiar with the local landmarks and are certain that the low vis is due to haze and will not turn into a cloud layer.

There are a few other places (like SLC) where persistent haze due to pollution/inversion layers might be present.
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Fulton County airport in Atlanta is located next to a river, and they get fog from the river from time to time. I would use SVFR to get through a hole in it, and by the time I came back it was gone.
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Another scenario I always give my students is this:

You are crusing along in good VFR conditions under an overcast. Conditions worsen, however and the descending clouds are pushing you closer to the ground than you would like. You pick an airport to divert to and listen to the weather, vis. 10SM and 800 ft. overcast. The airport is class E (or D, or C), which means you are required to be 500 ft below the clouds (300 ft AGL!). Time to call Flight Service or ATC to request a special VFR clearance into the airport. Now you can cruise just under the deck to your diversion point and not worry about winged missles emerging from the cloud layer.
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Long Beach, CA occasionally will have the approach end of 30 and all of 25L socked in at zero visibility in fog off the ocean to the south, including the tower, and the field/ATIS is officially IFR. The north runway is clear, and visibility is 20 miles, CAVU.

One can come and go in the class D under Special VFR, when flight conditions are much BETTER than Special VFR minima, but the official WX is WOXOF.

Last edited by 727gm; 11-25-2008 at 06:59 AM. Reason: Correction: 25L
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Old 11-25-2008, 01:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Don't ever plan on having to use SVFR. Use it as a way to get in if needed, but ever expect to have to use it.
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Old 11-25-2008, 03:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIskies View Post
Another scenario I always give my students is this:

You are crusing along in good VFR conditions under an overcast. Conditions worsen, however and the descending clouds are pushing you closer to the ground than you would like. You pick an airport to divert to and listen to the weather, vis. 10SM and 800 ft. overcast. The airport is class E (or D, or C), which means you are required to be 500 ft below the clouds (300 ft AGL!). Time to call Flight Service or ATC to request a special VFR clearance into the airport. Now you can cruise just under the deck to your diversion point and not worry about winged missles emerging from the cloud layer.

Have you ever tried to explain the weather theory behind the conditions worsening and the clouds descending forcing you to fly lower and lower, and by that I mean an approaching warm front for which you are now flying directly into?

If you can explain to your student that warm fronts can be decievingly deadly to a newly minted VFR only private pilot because the warm air slides on top of the cold air like an escalator thus causing high cirrus type cloud 100 miles out, then mid level alto-cumulus clouds 50 miles out and then low level stratus soup like clouds at the base of the warm front. Then the student can associate warm fronts with ever increasing deteorating conditions thus never fly head on with a warm front and thus never having to use Special VFR to fly to an airport reporting marginal VFR.

You might want to bring that up and get them involved with interpeting the Surface analysis charts.

There is an old adage for this: The superior pilot uses his superior judgment to keep him out of situations that require the use of his superior piloting skills.

That superior judgement come from also having superior knowledge, including weather theory. Good pilots are always learning and so am I.

And just to add another favorite quote of mine that I give to my students from time to time: Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

Last edited by hurricanechaser; 11-25-2008 at 03:53 AM. Reason: Adding a famous quote
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Old 11-25-2008, 04:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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thus never fly head on with a warm front and thus never having to use Special VFR to fly to an airport reporting marginal VFR.
"Never" is a tough word. Understanding the phenomenon doesn't necessarily mean avoiding it.

In this case, it might mean anticipating the need to divert before the destination and planning for it, but with the option to use a pilot tool (Special VFR) to get there.

Moving along, the single most misunderstood of the concepts of Special VFR I've seen is the concept that it ends at the border of the Class C, D or E surface areas ("the airspace contained by the upward extension of the lateral boundaries of the controlled airspace designated to the surface for an airport").

On a Sectional, that means inside the Class D, inside the broken magenta lines for Class E, and inside the inner area for Class C (the same for Class B where it's not labeled "No SVFR"). I think a lot of the admonition against using it to get out (as opposed to in) unless you know that conditions are better than in the immediate vicinity of the airport are based on this.
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