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VFR Minimums for extremely absent-minded people (like me) 

I'm not sure if this is a problem for pilots or not. I am very nearly a private pilot (as of September 14, 2003) and am studying for my practical test. One of the things I need to study is the VFR minimums required by the FAR's. It seemed to be a bit complicated at first and the charts that they give you to study make it seem to be a daunting study in rote memorization.  Fortunately (for me anyway), I realized that you could easily remember the requirement with 3 simple questions. 3 Questions! Even I could do that. 

To start off with, I divided the requirement into two segments. The Visibility segment and the Cloud separation segment. I've color coded them so you can tell by the color of the following text when one or the other changes. If the text color is Blue the Visibility segment value is being affected, if it is Red, the text affects the value of the Cloud Separation segment. 


OK, now "pre-load" the Visibility segment with a value of 3 miles and the Cloud Separation segment with a value of  500' below the clouds, 1000' above and 2000' horizontal. These values will be your answer unless one or both of them is changed by the following questions. In other words, if you answer "no" to all three questions, the VFR minimums will remain at 3 Miles Visibility, Cloud separation of 500' below, 1000' above and 2000' horizontal.  

Got it? OK, now , here are the three questions: (remember - only change the value of a segment if you come across some red or blue text)

Am I above 10,000' MSL (regardless of the class of airspace)? 

yes -  5 miles and 1000' below, 1000' above and 1 Statute mile horizontal.  STOP (unless you are class G during the day)

no - Continue to next question

Am I in class B airspace? 

yes - remain clear of clouds. STOP

no - Continue to next question

Am I in class G during the day? 

yes - 1 mile and only if you are below 1200' AGL (regardless of MSL altitude) remain clear of clouds

no - STOP

That's it! Now that's something that I can handle!


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Last updated: November 18, 2003.