A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have
heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we
might never have considered before, or something that didn't
"stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for
the practical test.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being good pilots, we're all in this
You have your clearance void time and you’re ready to take
off into fog. Or “out west” where the Class G roams yet
the skies are cloudy all day, you plan a point-to-point flight that
keeps you in Class G airspace. What are the rules for Instrument
Flight Rules (IFR)?
Class G airspace is by definition uncontrolled—no Air
Traffic Control (ATC) facility has responsibility for that
airspace, meaning no one can provide you an IFR clearance. If
you’re instrument rated and current, and your airplane IFR
certified and equipped, you may fly in IMC in this uncontrolled
airspace. Sometimes you have to climb through Class G on
instruments until you reach controlled airspace (common ATC
instruction: “enter controlled airspace on [heading]”).
Under some conditions you can cruise “uncontrolled” in
Class G while in the clouds.
...But Not Wild
When IFR in Class G the pilot is responsible for terrain
separation—FAR 91.177 requires altitudes of at least 1000
feet above the top of any obstacles within four nautical miles of
course, raised to 2000 feet in mountainous terrain. For traffic
avoidance, also the pilot’s responsibility in Class G, the
“hemisphere rule” for cruising altitudes applies (in
fact, for both VFR and IFR cruising altitudes, the hemisphere rule
only applies in uncontrolled airspace, although it’s
generally used in controlled airspace also).
The pilot is solely responsible for collision avoidance in Class
G airspace. Unless your airplane has on-board traffic detection
equipment you’re entirely dependant on “big sky
theory” to avoid hitting other airplanes in IMC.
Aero-tip of the day: Understand the risks,
requirements and rewards of the ability to fly IFR in Class G