Great report UdoR and thanks for posting it
There is no problem with flying VFR above a solid overcast. I did that on all my pre-IR (pre-2006) long trips – some here. Often I climbed quite high up the aircraft capability e.g. FL170, on oxygen, while VFR, to remain VMC on top. Much the same is how IFR is done actually
“There is no problem with flying VFR above a solid overcast. I did that on all my pre-IR (pre-2006) long trips – some here. Often I climbed quite high up the aircraft capability e.g. FL170, on oxygen, while VFR, to remain VMC on top. Much the same is how IFR is done …”
Very true, IFR just allows you to punch theough the clouds on the way up and again on the way down. Who wants to sit in cloud for any length of time?
There is no problem with flying VFR above a solid overcast. I did that on all my pre-IR (pre-2006) long trips
But you also had current IMC rating that you have used regularly no? then, no problem flying ILS in Greece down to 200ft (illegally but safely) or with enough fuel to go back to UK ILS legally down to 200ft
I am talking about instrument competence (aka, the privilege to be able to order beer pints in the bar after landing, it’s not a rating attached to a licence ), it’s not about the legality of asking IFR clearance to fly and approach or hassle of declaring a mayday on PPL, EIR, IMCr… if you go “VMC on top” you have to be comfortable and competent to descend on published approach or cloud break, if you don’t get a freelance IRI to help, ideally in turbulent IMC (takes about 10h flying & 20 approach for things to click)
I have found that ATC, in this area at least, are very helpful if stuck above a cloud layer.
I wouldn’t attempt an IMC approach without telling them of my problem. If I was VFR on Top but IR qualified, I would tell them that and discuss my options with them. I wouldn’t just launch into an IFR approach.
I thought UdoR did great and I thought @Ibra advice on Class E airways across France, spot on. The airways used to be shown on the 1:1million chart. I think they may also be on Carte Bossy and on the free app Airmate (which I haven’t used for some time but I understand has come a long way over the last 2 years) @Peter was in touch with it’s creator in Luxembourg, so he might know.
VFR-on-top I did a little bit of before I had my rating, but even in a twin, I was never really comfortable in it. I kept worrying about getting through at the other end, or having a failure and that worry “spoiled” the fun of it. One particular such trip that fastened my desire for my IFR rating was a trip to NY from LA. I was in my Aerostar VFR-on-top for the later part of trip, and it was only by the grace of god I managed to find a little wormhole east of NY for me to get through down. The whole area had gone IFR and I was facing a return flight almost back to my departure point. ATC were not happy with me as they had to vector an airliner out of the way for me to circle through down the opening. Not only that, after I’d come down through the hole, ceilings were 900ft and barely 3 mile visibility and pounding rain with hilly terrain. That’s no fun in any plane.
After that trip I decided to do one of those intensive 11-day rating courses.
If flying above a solid overcast, VFR, one needs to be very sure that one can find VFR conditions near the destination.
Normally this works ok because, from N Europe, one is flying a long trip to the south where the wx is better
Otherwise, it works best with coastal destinations where you can do a safe descent through cloud even if it overcast and you knew it probably would be. For example UK to La Rochelle can be safely done that way. Not quite legal but nobody will know if there really was not a hole in the cloud, way out over the sea.
I would not do this if going to Switzerland And my trips to the Alps tend to check the webcams as the last check before departure, to make sure it is CAVOK.
Much depends on the plane of course. If you have 1000nm range then you have options. In a C152 you will run out of options very fast, so people flying those types are basically limited to flying below any cloudbase.
I kept worrying about getting through at the other end
That is the most intensive part of flight preparation, when doing this. It just has to be safe that there’s an open exit.
I knew the destination area, and knew that I could anytime divert much farther south to e.g. León where sky was all blue (there’s a quite high mountain ridge in between), and wih the prevailing weather zero possibility that weather overhead there could deteriorate. So no problem to climb above.
That is one reason, by the way, why I decided to proceed on rather low power setting once above, in order to spare some fuel and to see how weather develops. So that I arrived with still 3 hours of fuel over destination instead of 2 hours or less, to be able to react. You can do a lot of things if you still have fuel on board…
@UdoR hope you add more info on the destination.
GA and in particular VFR long cross country, if you have time to spare travel by air!
With the health restrictions you might feel pressure not to carry out a precautionary landing, which ideally should be built into the mindset of a long VFR cross country.
SEP on top is fine, but you might want to have an SOP for minimum ceilings en route. YMMV but 1000’ AGL gives you a decent chance to select a field if there is an engine failure.
Bless the UK and the people who introduced the IMC rating and kept it going!
if you go “VMC on top” you have to be comfortable and competent to descend on published approach or cloud break,
Not only that. To me, flying IFR is very much a “state of mind” which begins well before the takeoff. I’m not comfortable with the prospect of having to enter cloud unprepared. This has to do with flight preparation and being ahead of the aircraft at all times.
This has to do with flight preparation and being ahead of the aircraft at all times
I have to admit that “VFR on top of low IMC” does requires far more planing than IFR (en-route diversions, enough fuel for O/R in VMC, plaes & weather for every single airport in aircraft range), far superior understanding of weather and high dose of luck & good decision making but it’s nowhere near what you need in terms of flight preparation to be ahead of aircraft at all times when going “VFR in IMC” or “VFR in terrain”, these need quantum computers to fly the aircraft (even IR-rated pilots won’t make it through )