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Old 01-15-2015, 03:55 PM
flyinga flyinga is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Fredericksburg, TX
Posts: 582

I've been a professional pilot for 45 years and always stay IFR current and comfortable. I do not plan to takeoff, cruise or land a single engine airplane with less than 1000' ceiling and a mile vis. We have lots of backup systems for everything except the engine. The backup for the engine is to glide to a landing. With an engine failure and a 200' ceiling you probably will have to rely strictly on luck to survive. With 1000' you at least have a chance to hit a soft spot. Yes, I've had to shoot approaches to 200-1/2 but that was due to un-forecast wx.
Jim Averett
TS36 - Silver Wings
Fredericksburg, TX
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Old 01-15-2015, 04:19 PM
cajunwings cajunwings is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: new iberia la
Posts: 617
Default Personal mins

My view as a current professional pilot with lots of time and ratings. In a piston single I don't plan to take off, fly over or shoot an approach in wx less than 800' ceiling & 2 miles vis. And that's only in a plane that I either maintain myself or know enough about it to have some faith in. The 800 & 2 number came about after much practice doing simulated engine failures down to probable landing areas. In the end I felt that if the engine failed and I descended into the wind down to 800' before seeing the ground the landing would probably be survivable. 800' gives some choice on what you are going to land on. Was flying Mooneys in those days which glide well and have robust structure that offers some protection in mishaps.

Don Broussard A&P, IA, ATP

RV 9 Rebuild in Progress
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Old 01-15-2015, 04:25 PM
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dmaib dmaib is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: New Smyrna Beach, FL
Posts: 1,338

Pierre, I think your decision making on this trip was right on the money. I imagine I would have made the same decision given the conditions you described. I don't have personal "hard minimums", but go through that same decision making process. The last hurdle is that old gut feeling that something you are considering doing is a bit dicey. I flew professionally for 40 years. When I retired, I planned on staying IFR current in my RV-10. I found out pretty quickly that it takes a LOT of discipline and work to maintain legal currency. And, as someone mentioned in a previous post, "legal" may not be even close to "really current". Single pilot IFR, in low IMC conditions, is one of the most demanding things we do, IMHO.
We had a commercial instrument pilot crash into the ocean in a Cessna 152 here the night before last. It appears that she departed an uncontrolled field in pretty lousy weather conditions in an airplane that she was checked out in, but the owner had not given her permission to fly solo yet. She did not survive, and looking at the wreckage after it was dragged up on the beach was sobering.

As Stein would say, "my $.02 worth"
David Maib
RV-10 N380DM
New Smyrna Beach, FL
VAF Paid 1/02/2019

"In '69 I was 21, and I called the road my own"
Jackson Browne

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Old 01-15-2015, 08:50 PM
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BCP Boys BCP Boys is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Kennesaw, Ga
Posts: 679
Default Engine out on T-O?

Pierre, you did the right thing. I have a lot of respect for anyone flying in the soup like Vic said he did today. Honestly I can't ever convince myself to fly a single engine plane in conditions that we have had here in the Atlanta area for the past few days. All I can think of is if I lose an engine and have to land off airport or even if I have enough altitude to get to an airport that may or may not have a published approach, will I be able to put it down safely if I have less than 300' after I break out of the soup. In all honesty this is a fear that I can't seem to shake.
RV-7 QB - N174WM
Supporting VAF since the first visit
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Old 01-15-2015, 11:53 PM
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RV10inOz RV10inOz is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Brisbane Qld. Aust.
Posts: 2,176

Originally Posted by BobTurner View Post
I absolutely agree. But:
How do you know? If there are pireps on icing where I want to go, I stay on the ground. But the official FAA wx is useless. Around here every single area forecast in the winter says "Chance of icing in clouds and precipitation above the freezing level". If you go to<> there are "supplementary" icing forecasts which are the best we have, although they all carry the disclaimer "not for official use". My personal policy is that I'm okay sticking my nose into it and seeing what's there (not freezing rain, of course) as long as I have an immediate exit available. Around here that's common, there's often several thousand feet of warm, vfr weather below the clouds. OTOH I have declined to depart ifr out of West Yellowstone, just because I didn't see a quick way back and it was right at freezing on the ground. So it takes some judgement. Most pilots who get into icing trouble are those who run into it, and do nothing but continue on!
Bob, How do you know if you have icing conditions? Really simple. IMC and temperature in the freezing range. For us low level bug smashers the temperature only has to be below 8dC on the ground and by 4000' you are at 0dC and in cloud you will get ice. Some clouds like healthy CU's you will get plenty.

It is just a no brainer as Piere has found. He did the right thing.

Someone said earlier, Single Pilot IFR is the hardest form of operations. Nothing wrong with tackling weather, weather that your aircraft is capable and legally allowed to fly in. If you hold an instrument rating you should know what that means in terms of weather and capability. There are not any "Buts" involved in my mind.

I like this sayingÖ."If you only think you can, you can't" You have to know.

Be careful up thereÖas JD used to say.

David Brown

DYNON Authorised Dealer and Installer

The two best investments you can make, by any financial test, an EMS and APS!
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Old 01-16-2015, 06:05 AM
Tom Martin Tom Martin is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,465

One thing that I started to do last year was to include, on my flight plan, the note "single pilot IFR". I flight plan 210 knots and it occurred to me that there are probably not that many aircraft flying that fast that do not have two pilots on board. With that note on my flight plan it did seem that the controllers spoke a bit slower, that they often started a clearance with a vector and once I got going in the right direction they would follow up with the waypoints. Although I might be imagining it, it also seemed that they were a bit more interested in my flight.
Perhaps they were just a bit worried about what I might do! Anyways it seemed to work for me.
As for icing, if it is close to freezing, and there is a cloud, I do not go through it.
Tom Martin RV1 pilot 4.6hours!
CPL & IFR rated
EVO F1 Rocket 1000 hours,
2010 SARL Rocket 100 race, average speed of 238.6 knots/274.6mph
RV4, RV7, RV10, two HRIIs and five F1 Rockets
RV14 Tail dragger

Fairlea Field
St.Thomas, Ontario Canada, CYQS
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Old 01-16-2015, 06:43 AM
Toga 1 Toga 1 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: LaGrange, GA
Posts: 18

I am a recent retired airline pilot with significant Cat 3 approach (RVR300') experience. My IFR minimums to file/fly are 500/1 with at least the same or better at my alternate. If I arrive with less than that, I would consider an approach down to approach minimums if wind, rain, and runway conditions were not a factor. Autopilots in these little airplanes are wonderful, but a hand flown approach, at least for me in my -8, can be challenging... especially at night or in adverse weather.

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Old 01-16-2015, 06:58 AM
jnmeade jnmeade is offline
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Iowa
Posts: 135

I have a question that I think is deeper than the question of "what are your minimums". Several of you have touched on my question. That is:

What is the purpose of mniimums? A couple of possibilities:
1. Time. Minimums buy you time to do things, such as acquire the landing site and make some amount of maneuevers to line up
2. Precision. Your equipment (or you) won't allow enough precision to maneuver as accurately as you wish so higher minimums may gain you enough clearance to avoid hitting things (granted, this is probably not an issue in a published approach but could be at the local class G airport not too far from the grain elevator).

Other? A number of you have given numbers that we accept are acceptable to you, but what do those numbers give you? How would those numbers change under various conditions? Several have alluded to this approach to the question but I thought it might be worth asking people what the numbers do for them.

It seems to me it is mainly time that the minimums give - time to identify, orient and safely maneuver for a better alignment or perhaps time to configure the airiplane or maybe time to select a crash site or something else.

If time is what we are seeking, it would seem that it would be situation dependent and we should have some kind of protocol that fits us, our mission, our aircraft, the weather and more. Does anyone know of such a protocol or decision process for setting an given minimum, or would that be counterproductive?
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Old 01-16-2015, 08:58 AM
Lote Lote is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Dublin, OH
Posts: 75

My personal minimums for IFR flying:
I donít take off if the airport is below minimums for a return to the airport.
I donít take off if I will have to fly above the freezing level in visible moisture.
I donít take off without full tanks and enough fuel to fly to the intended destination plus at least another hour at cruising speed.
I donít take off unless there is at least a 500 foot ceiling all along the route.
I donít fly at night.
So far, so good. I donít do much long distance flying in the winter, but once the freezing level has climbed to 7 or 8 thousand feet, my trip completion percentage within a few hours of planned is near 100 percent. (Iím in Ohio and havenít ventured out west, but Iíve been all over east of the Rockies.)
I try to abide by the ďalways leave yourself an outĒ philosophy.
LeRoy Johnston RV-6A Esperanza 900 hours
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Old 01-16-2015, 09:32 AM
RandomShallow RandomShallow is offline
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 11

Coming from military aircraft, and having flown CAT II ILS down to mins, there is a big difference when flying a fully capable IFR airplane vs flying any GA airplane (and sometimes I get the FAR's vs USAF regs mixed up, so I'll try not to quote FARs). One thing that you nailed on the head is icing. I live in New England, and in the winter time, even 500' below the clouds, ice can accumulate. If I think there's going to be icing, I avoid flying IFR.

As far as take-off minimums go, I saw a post earlier that someone is ok with taking off at 0-0, or 50 RVR. Personally, I would not even come close to that in a GA airplane (we aren't even allowed to do that in the Air Force, mission and airframe depending). My personal takeoff minimums in a GA airplane is somewhere between 1000' - 1500'. This would allow me to takeoff, and if I had a problem I could stay VFR and pull closed to land. With that being said, it would be situation dependent. If it was a spring morning haze level, I would takeoff in less than that, because I know I'll be VFR at pattern alt.

For takeoff, I would NEVER takeoff below minimums for the airport I'm departing. If I really had to get out of there, if I had a problem, I'd at least like to get in the radar pattern and land on backup instrumentation. An option if you're really in a bind could be to takeoff below mins, with a sufficient departure alternate (if there was an airport within the same radar terminal area reporting better weather). You really have to do your homework if you're going to do that.

For landing, it's going to depend on your experience and comfort level. Maybe if you're new to the IFR would, set a personal minimum to 500' above lowest compatible approach minimums, and 2 miles of visibility. As you feel more comfortable, you can lower that down to 300' above minimums and 1.5 miles, or 200' above mins, etc. Having gone missed on a CAT II ILS, and seeing 75' on the radar altimeter without seeing the ground creates a pretty significant pucker-factor

Happy flying!
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