Tom Turner's article in the October issue, "When To Go Visual," touched on one of my pet peeves about canceling IFR
after breaking out on an approach to a nontowered airport: the need to maintain VFR to the runway in an IMC environment.
With clear skies and the airport in sight we could have potentially made things easier by canceling IFR
. However, we were so used to IFR-only flying that we didn't have local VFR charts at hand.
Since I was still IFR and on a vector, I couldn't just go zooming around out here, looking for the airport, without canceling IFR
. And I didn't want to cancel until I was relatively sure I didn't need it anymore.
(Some certificated operators have more stringent requirements.) If canceling IFR
and still in Class E airspace, you need to remain 500 feet below the clouds with 3 miles of visibility until reaching Class G airspace, if any.
I was in IMC for maybe five minutes before breaking out and canceling IFR
. I'd "wasted" two hours of my life, but I was safe and sound, on the ground, and home.
You might have minimized that possibility by canceling IFR
with a Class B clearance request: "If you can give me a Class Bravo clearance, I can cancel IFR."
I favor just canceling IFR
while airborne if those conditions are met.
And pilots have been violated for canceling IFR
with approach while inside the confines of Class D airspace but before they were handed off to the tower--suddenly the pilot is in Class D airspace without permission to be there.
For most airspace this is 1000 feet above the clouds, so if you can't remember the specifics, note the altitude of the cloud tops and make certain that you've climbed at least an additional 1000 feet before canceling IFR
. If ATC didn't know the tops or they're different than ATC stated, give the next pilot a leg up and provide ATC with a bases and tops report.
However, when the weather is marginal, this means that the only way to get in is by descending to the controller's minimum vectoring altitude, canceling IFR
and scud running VFR.