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tkoenig95
Topic Author
Posts: 313
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:39 pm

To VFR On Top

Thu Oct 04, 2018 9:56 pm

Hopefully some experienced instrument pilots can answer this question: is it easy to get clearance for "to VFR on top"? It seems like such a logical clearance to ask for, but obviously it is up to the controlling agency. Can a private pilot request the clearance or only instrument rated?
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 6076
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: To VFR On Top

Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:47 pm

You have to have in instrument rating and IFR equipped plane to fly an IFR clearance and, since it involves a climb thru clouds, it’s necessary to be IFR current. Once in VMC “on top”; tell the controller you want to fly “on top” and altitudes are VFR hemispheric at your discretion or ATC restrictions. You maintain your clearance as to routing. Or just cancel when on top in VMC and continue VFR. See FAA AIM 4-4-8.

Now, in the US, if you maintain cloud clearances, a VFR pilot can fly in VMC on top. But, how do you get down when the scattered deck becomes a broken or undercast layer?

It’s easy to get in non-congested airspace, but a tough call in the DC-BOS corridor.

GF
 
IAHFLYR
Posts: 4161
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: To VFR On Top

Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:58 pm

In my 29 years as a controller at IAH Tower and Houston TRACON I can only recall maybe twice that someone wanted VFR On Top. In fact I'm pretty sure that if you polled 10 controllers 8 of them would not have a clue what it was.
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 6076
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: To VFR On Top

Fri Oct 05, 2018 2:16 pm

Probably more of an enroute drill than TRACON, but I’d agree it’s pretty “old school” like a cruise clearance or contact approach. I got a cruise clearance from Oakland OAC going into Koror, odd, I thought, but pretty standard transition from Class A to Class G airspace.

There’s really two “VFR ON top” deals- one is just a short range clearance to VFR, the other an enroute clearance.

GF
 
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SuseJ772
Posts: 998
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:13 am

Re: To VFR On Top

Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:58 pm

I am about 90% the way through my Instrument. My instructor insisted on the last one to do VFR on top on a relatively short trip between KIMM - KVDF. It was weird. The controller clearly didn’t want to do it. I saw no point as we were on GPS ending in RNAV. He wanted me to ask for it. I did. The controller didn’t want to comply which I was more than fine with. But my instructor kept insisting. It was awkward. And honestly was a bit flustering. I get some some of the advantage if you are at cruise for a 4 hour flight after climbing through clouds. But on a short route or when routing is fairly direct I just don’t get the big deal staying on the IFR clearance.
Currently at PIE, requesting FWA >> >>
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 6076
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: To VFR On Top

Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:19 am

Here’s where it can come in handy. Early morning marine layer, clearance to on top, cancel and go direct or hold onto your clearance in case you’ll need it later. Cruise clearances, ops in uncontrolled airspace, position reporting, contact approaches and climb in VMC are little taught or experienced in the US anymore. Any instrument pilot should know and use these obscure corners in the AIM.
 
sccutler
Posts: 5839
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 12:16 pm

Re: To VFR On Top

Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:22 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Here’s where it can come in handy. Early morning marine layer, clearance to on top, cancel and go direct or hold onto your clearance in case you’ll need it later. Cruise clearances, ops in uncontrolled airspace, position reporting, contact approaches and climb in VMC are little taught or experienced in the US anymore. Any instrument pilot should know and use these obscure corners in the AIM.


+1,000!

My instructor drilled me on the more obscure options, and the magic words, "Request Contact Approach" saved me 30 minutes of stormy-area vectoring one fine evening at Pensacola.

The right tools, for the right times.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...

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