Originally Posted by Rob Erdos
This is an interesting thread. I concur with the sentiment that establishing personal limits is a critical part of the decision-making apparatus.
1. No dispatch with an unserviceable autopilot [I can hand-fly. I have to prove it during every check ride. Still, let's not plan on it.];
2. Takeoffs with below 500 foot ceilings must have a takeoff alternate within 20 minutes [If a contingency arises on takeoff, a 500 foot ceiling is sufficient for a modified circuit and landing. Otherwise, if something bad happens immediately after takeoff, even an approach at the departure airport would require about 20 minutes, so any "landable" airport in the vicinity is sufficient. Even so, no, I don't intend on zero-zero departures!];
3. No flight within 2000 feet of the forecast freezing level or below 2 degrees C in visible moisture [Ice is bad. Very bad.];
4. No night IFR operations [To provide at least some engine failure options];
5. Enroute weather shall not be less than 500 feet and 1 mile [Again, in the interest of preserving engine failure options].
I very much agree with Rob's basic tenets. Other factors to add in:
* Cumulus clouds give a very rough ride in the RV-9A. If the height from cloud base to top is more than 3 or 4 thousand feet, I avoid them;
* Instead of 500 foot overcast below, I prefer 1,000. Over known flat, open land, maybe lower, but even Iowa has swatches for forest that would be really bad if your first glance was at 500 feet;
* As for approach minimums -- you **** well better be able to fly an approach to minimums!! Weather does change en route. The difference is whether you plan a flight where you anticipate flying to minimums;
* For me, inflight fatigue can be an issue, so time of day, overall energy level, etc are factors;
* Since my canopy doesn't seal well, rain is a factor;
* Another way at looking at go/no-go decisions is to count the number of challenges on the flight: turbulence, crosswinds, solid IFR vs on top or in and out, ATC environment, airspace restrictions, what happens if the autopilot dies, etc. Too many total challenges on the flight, or too many challenges at once are reasons to reconsider whether to go or not. (And it's also real challenging to have the autopilot die when you're busy fussing with the automation and have low situational awareness because of the automation...)
Y'all be careful out there!