Aviation In Canada

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Special VFR

A pilot asked on a forum I monitor about Special VFR. He asked an instructor a question relating to it and a "Day VFR" rating. It's a good thing to clarify.

The rating of Day VFR is not connected with SVFR. SVFR is a rule which provides primarily for a VFR pilot to enter a control zone for the purpose of landing, or departing an airport, all below normal VFR weather conditions. Remembering that the weather minima for VFR inside and outside a control zone are different (check the class of airspace outside the control zone as well), this may not necessarily be a bad thing. For example, Saint John, NB, is a coastal airport and often shrouded in fog. Even as little as 5NM north, it may be wide open CAVU. If the weather permits, departing the zone under SVFR may get the pilot into clear skies beyond. You had better be sure of the area you're flying in and of the weather beyond, though.

It doesn't matter the rating of the pilot. If you're airborne and see a snow squall coming and you need to land, by all means, tell ATC what's going on. Nobody wants a VFR pilot stuck in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). Far better to inconvenience another airplane or two than to have clean up wreckage and ruin a good section of forest. Also remember that whatever the circumstance, it's the pilot's ass in the plane, not the controller's. He may be mad, and will write up anything that goes against regulations (ATC is required to write up any such occurrences), so be prepared to justify your actions. But if you're in trouble, do what you have to do. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. Fly your plane and then tell ATC what's going on.