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Weather too bad for IFR - going VFR

So I have had my IR for a few seasons now.
Last week I was on a trip to Weeze in Germany. Going there the weather was fine. Climbed trough some clouds with bases in a few thousand feets and was on top FL100 on the enroute leg. Tops was FL80. Decent was trough clouds and a bit of rain but bases was a few thousand feet so no sweat.
Next day going back the weather was worse. Ceilings 1000-1500 feet but last part lower. CB’s with heavy showers around.
Fearing these were imbedded and not being able to climb on top to see them I chose to go back VFR. It worked out great but the last 30NM was in 600-700 feet and rather poor weather.
Now I wonder if I’m not brave enough to tackle the weather IFR when it gets worse, or if this is quite normal taking my 172 into account.

pmh
www.ekbr.dk, Denmark

It’s actually a good strategy, especially in the winter, and I do it ever year: If I don’t know I can’t get on top without icing and the ceiling is high enough for safe VFR flight, I go VFR.

The moment you have to be “bold” to fly (by your own standards) you are making a mistake. That has always been my flying philosophy, of course often ridiculed by braver guys. Who cares!

was trough clouds and a bit of rain but bases was a few thousand feet so no sweat.

Yes this is commonly the case – hazardous wx higher up, and Eurocontrol prevents “low altitude” IFR in most of Europe. The main risk in flying under CBs is getting hit by lightning.

VFR is a very good tool, but comes with complications e.g. the need to be CAS etc aware.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

pmh wrote:

Now I wonder if I’m not brave enough to tackle the weather IFR when it gets worse, or if this is quite normal taking my 172 into account.

I am not brave enough to fly VFR at 600 feet. So either I have on-board weather to dodge the odd TS/CB/TCU, or I plan my flight around areas of convection, or the convection is too widespread and I stay on the ground.

LFPT, LFPN

600 ft AGL over flat land should really not be a problem – in good visibility (!). But it’s really as low as you should go for a very limited period of time and only in places where you really know the obstacles. Some of the bigger new windmills are higher than that.

A C172 is not really an aircraft for IFR in Europe. Climb rate and ceiling and airspeed are not good enough. It’s for IFR training and fair weather IFR.

Don’t fly into IMC unless you know what’s inside.

One big advantage of being instrument proficient is that you can fly VFR but not at 500ft AGL in marginal VMC but let’s say 1000ft AGL in IMC. Much safer.

Alexis wrote:

The moment you have to be “bold” to fly (by your own standards) you are making a mistake. That has always been my flying philosophy, of course often ridiculed by braver guys. Who cares!

Absolutely right!

achimha wrote:

A C172 is not really an aircraft for IFR in Europe. Climb rate and ceiling and airspeed are not good enough. It’s for IFR training and fair weather IFR.

Sadly that’s true. We recently sold our TB10 which had similar performance to a 172. It was a great machine, and took us all over Europe – but until I flew in the new turbocharged Mooney I had no idea how much easier it could be.

EGEO

I do believe a better performing aircraft can extend my usage, but I still feel the current aircraft has more capability than what i’m using. Trying to learn – one step at the time.
I agree completely with the statement about boldness.

pmh
www.ekbr.dk, Denmark

pmh wrote:

I do believe a better performing aircraft can extend my usage, but I still feel the current aircraft has more capability than what i’m using.

Yep, I know that feeling. It’s amazing what you can do with a basic low-performance aircraft – we really loved our TB10, and even after 600 hours, I felt I was still learning things about it.

Enjoy it, learn with it, push its limits (within reason and safety)

Also, VFR (or in the UK, low-level IFR) was a norm for me icing meant I couldn’t fly IFR in the system. Serious convection normally meant I didn’t fly, although an ADL device made a massive difference there and allowed me to go round the big storm systems (still not good enough to pick your way through the storms though).

EGEO

The problem with the C172/TB9/TB10 type of operating ceiling (say 12k) is that it isn’t enough to get you VMC on top a lot of the time. For example of the two flights I did yesterday, one needed FL120 and the other FL150. If I dipped into the stuff it would have been about -5C and thus instant icing. And this is normal.

But if you have a say 18k ceiling, you can generally be VMC on top in all wx that is absent of fronts and troughs i.e. a clean MSLP chart. There are still cases of a stratus layer which has a lot of ice but the MSLP obviously won’t show it. I didn’t know any of this when I got the TB20 in 2002 but it was a good fortune. And it turned out to be brilliant for VFR (VMC on top) outside the UK where you are either OCAS or can get cleared.

The next level is to cross fronts VMC on top and for that you need FL250 sort of performance, at least.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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