Question about VFR on top


Well-Known Member
If a student pilot is with their instructor and the ceilings are lets say 1100ft. Can the instructor, if instrument rated request VFR-on top and conduct the lesson above the clouds with a student pilot working towards their private?



Well-Known Member
Yup, in some areas of the country its almost a must to get anything done.

Edit: To clarify...the way I do it is cancel IFR once on top. Then ATC lets me get a local IFR clearance for an approach back home after we're done...if we need it. That elimates the issue of having to worry about the "VFR-on-top" clearance.


Well-Known Member
Technically, yes. But there are practical considerations. VFR On Top is an IFR clearance, so the CFI will have to file (even if in the air) an IFR flight plan. IFR flight plans are generally designed to get from one place to another. If the conditions at airports are IMC, ATC may be too busy to give clearances for practice VFR maneuvers.


New Member
Absolutely. VFR on top is a is an awesome way to give a pre-private student a new perspective of flying, all the while giving them the chance to get lessons in when the weather is low. Like ESF said...many places, it is a must. I personally love the days when there is a low ceiling with a solid overcast and severe clear on top...unique view, getting to practice VFR manuevers, and still being allowed to shoot an approach in actual. It is the best of all worlds.


Well-Known Member
Midlife, from the AIM:

4-4-7. IFR Clearance VFR-on-top

a. A pilot on an IFR flight plan operating in VFR weather conditions, may request VFR-on-top in lieu of an assigned altitude. This permits a pilot to select an altitude or flight level of their choice (subject to any ATC restrictions.)

b. Pilots desiring to climb through a cloud, haze, smoke, or other meteorological formation and then either cancel their IFR flight plan or operate VFR-on-top may request a climb to VFR-on-top. The ATC authorization shall contain either a top report or a statement that no top report is available, and a request to report reaching VFR-on-top. Additionally, the ATC authorization may contain a clearance limit, routing and an alternative clearance if VFR-on-top is not reached by a specified altitude.


section b. there is quite common, and as mentioned, if IFR is cancelled, then you are totally VFR. Controllers in my area certainly understand this, and will give an "report of not on top by xxxx' (it is usually 4000' in my area)". Cancel once you are 1000' above the layer, and the VFR-on-top rules no longer apply, since the IFR is gone from your flyin'. Then, if needed later, a popup clearance for an approach to get back in. On busy days, there may be a 10min delay or so for a popup departure, or approach, but that is not typical in my area (unless everyone is out gettin' IFR current