Pilot's tip of the week

VFR Personal Minimums

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Subscriber question:

"I am a VFR Pilot and would like to know how to determine the worst weather condition I can fly in and still be safe?" - Clay G.

Bob:

Personal minimums“As a certified pilot you are well aware that there are very specific weather criteria for VFR pilots based upon the class of airspace they are flying in.

So, let me get to the heart of your question which takes us right to personal minimums. These vary from pilot to pilot and even from day to day. If that sounds like a vague answer, it’s intended to be.

Every individual pilot should have standards that suit their proficiency, skill and currency.

In Class G airspace we can fly with one mile visibility and clear of clouds. Is that safe? Not for most pilots it isn’t!

One model often used is the PAVE technique. By looking at the Pilot, Airplane, Environment, and Emotional factors that impact a flight, we then determine our personal minimums for that situation.

Pilot Issues – current, proficient, recent experience, total experience
Airplane Issues – time in this aircraft, recency of experience, landings
Environment – familiar with weather, terrain and local hazards
Emotional – stress, medical state, I.M.S.A.F.E., rest

Only by looking at the total picture can we determine our minimums on a given day. We want our comfort level to be very high. Starting out with anxiety will only increase our chances of getting into trouble.”

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