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Aviation => Pilot/Controller Forum => Topic started by: Dave B on August 16, 2010, 06:35:24 PM

Title: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: Dave B on August 16, 2010, 06:35:24 PM
A local friend reported the following to our local flyers site.


I'd appreciate your thoughts...

Yesterday I was departing HQM with a thin overcast layer.  Bases were  300ft and tops were about 1000ft (as reported on ASOS and actual).  It was very isolated as the rest of the region was known good CAVU.  However, at HQM it was solid without a hint of blue sky in any direction.  Tree tops were clearly in the clouds on surrounding hills.

As annoying as it was, I filed IFR to get out.  I called for my clearance which I received with a 15 "minute void if not off by" time window.  As I taxi'd up to the runway a large twin cessna (a 414 I think, also possibly a regional airline) taxi'd onto the runway for takeoff.  I was quite confused as I thought my clearance and VIFNO time gave me the IMC airspace.  I queried the cessna pilot if he was IFR and he said "no, I'm going to look for VFR". 

Unless I'm missing something, there is no way this was legal (or safe).  Sure, we all knew the layer was very thin and isolated, but what if there was IFR traffic making an opposite direction approach?  I called him again on his climb out and asked him to report to me when he was on top.  There was no way I was taking off into the clouds with a guy that is "looking for VFR".

In my opinion, this jerk put my family and his passengers lives at stake.  Unless I am missing a regulation that makes this simply unwise rather than stupid and illegal..  I'f I can find his tail number and airline I'm thinking of writing a letter to the chief pilot and CEO.  Unfortunately, I didn't write it down and, of course, flight aware has no record.  Anyone know a charter outfit that uses a C414 or similar?  I'd recognize the tail number if I saw it.

sorry for the venting.
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: cessna157 on August 16, 2010, 09:26:53 PM
I'd have to look at a sectional, to know the details, but it would be legal if it was class G airspace, daytime.  Safe?  no.  Legal?  yes, unfortunately
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: tyketto on August 17, 2010, 01:41:19 AM
If there is something you could try searching by aircraft type, which should show you every C414 that was flying around that time. Also, I assume you tried searching by airport, right?

Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: abelenky on August 20, 2010, 08:10:17 PM
I was at HQM on August 15th, in my C-172S

I was there roughly noon to 3p.m. (I'll check my logs later to find out exactly), and here's what I recall about it.

The clouds were OVC at 500ft., the layer was solid, but quite thin (less than 100 ft.), at least during the time I was there.

Most importantly, the cloud-line STOPPED right at the airport.  Everything to the West was 100% OVC, and everything to the East was 100% clear.
As the cloud-line shifted a little bit, the airport was going in and out of IMC conditions.
IMC briefly as the clouds advanced, then VFR again as the clouds retreated.

Some of the planes I was with did depart HQM, quite literally to "look for VFR" at other nearby airports.
We wanted to go elsewhere, but other airports were sadly socked in.
We were careful to depart VFR from HQM, sometimes waiting for the clouds to retreat again.
(no one in my group had a twin engine, and I didn't see any arrive or depart while I was there)

I am not an IFR pilot, and know very little about IFR rules, but as I understand the VFR rules
at an uncontrolled, class-E to the Surface airport, when we judge that clouds and visibility exceed minimums,
(using all available AWOS, ASOS, and your own eyes), then we are free to take the runway with standard CTAF calls.

You might be misinterpreting what the pilot meant by "looking for VFR".
Within the context of my fellow pilots, we were departing VFR,
and looking to see the conditions at other nearby airports (W04 and S16).

If the pilot judged it was VFR, (and it was on-and-off throughout the day on Sunday), I think he was both legal and safe to take-off.
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: abelenky on August 20, 2010, 08:20:30 PM
P.S.  What "local flyers site" was this first on?  I don't know of a good local board around here....
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: captray on August 21, 2010, 04:15:54 PM
Without looking at a chart, it is entirely possible that your freind was legal.
IF, the airport was in class G airspace all he would need is 1 mile vis and remain clear of clouds. As you must remember class G starts at the surface and goes up to the overlying airspace, generaly 700 feet agl.

Everything legal is not nessesarily safe, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: abelenky on August 21, 2010, 06:16:12 PM
Map is available at,-123.864241512521&chart=1&zoom=1 (,-123.864241512521&chart=1&zoom=1).

It is Class E to the surface.
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: StuSEL11 on August 21, 2010, 10:41:05 PM
What about special VFR? He could have picked that up from Seattle Center. And just because someone believes there are VFR conditions does not prevent them from FSDO action if, based on weather records including AWOS records and PIREPs, it was determined that the weather was not appropriate for VFR flight.

Based on the information here, it is more likely than not that this guy performed an illegal takeoff. He should be reported IMO.
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: captray on August 22, 2010, 05:13:16 AM
After looking at the chart, you are correct, class E to the surface. The other pilot was wrong.

Since it is an uncontrolled field, special VFR rules do not apply.
Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: Dave B on August 22, 2010, 05:44:23 PM
P.S.  What "local flyers site" was this first on?  I don't know of a good local board around here....

Abe, come up on the Pacific Northwest Flyers site at....

LOTS of locals.   :-D

Title: Re: "Looking for VFR"
Post by: Jay on September 22, 2010, 03:27:08 AM
In either event IFR operations were taking place and the SVFR would be delayed to accomidate the OP's departure.