Special VFR question


Well-Known Member
I was out to breakfast yesterday with some flying enthusiasts and the topic of special vfr came up. I know that it is something that can be requested by a pilot, but here's the question....
Can a Special VFR be requested for transitioning a controlled airspace that drops below vfr mins?
Yes it can as long as you can maintain 1 mile and clear of clouds. You can get Special VFR or you can fly in Class G with the same requirements, but if you have actually seen from the air how little visibility 3 miles is, let alone 1 mile, I am not sure it is something you would want to do if a major portion of your route has conditions like that. For safety, special VFR is something that should be used to get into an airport when weather is getting worse than was forecast, or even to leave an airport that the weather is marginal due to fog, but everywhere else around it is good weather. You would be flirting with disaster to use Special VFR to scud run as you are flying cross country.
SVFR can only be used within the lateral boundaries of the B, C, D, and E surface areas, right? So you couldn't really use SFVR to scud run unless your route was along a corridor of airspace that was controlled to the ground, could you?

My understanding is that you could use SVFR to get out of a controlled airport, leave SVFR and transition to G airspace below the overlying E (at 700 to 1200 feet AGL in low vis conditions, nonetheless!), and then request SVFR back into a controlled surface environment for landing, all the while maintaining at least 1 mile and clear of clouds.

Then again, I've never used it . . .

Edit: And, after rereading the last post, SUSPilot said exactly what I just did and I misread what he wrote. Oops!
As long as the airspace you are in is controlled to the surface, you're good. So you can't go SVFR in the shelf areas of Bravo and Charlie because they aren't controlled the surface.

I have used a SVFR clearance several times, but not to scud run. In the summer months when the T-storms start to pop up, the field here in Daytona might be IFR, but it's possible to see it from 5-10 miles away. If there is a storm on top of the field, it will definitely be IFR while I'm flying along the shore in the sun. So instead of hassling with an IFR clearance and taking vectors for an approach (which probably means flying through a level 3+) I've requested a SVFR clearance and flown the normal VFR arrival to the field. Sometimes it's pretty wild to have approach tell you to expect runway 25, then runway 7, then 25, and then whatever runway I'd like.
When the weather crapped out at RHV (Reid-Hillview), we'd shoot the ILS approach into SJC (San Jose) to the point where we could see Capitol Expressway or some discernable landmark and then get a SVFR clearance to RHV.

Looking back, that was absolutely crazy.
Doesn't RHV have an IAP at all?

I've never requested a "special" clearance and probably never would, just because by the time the weather got anywhere near that point I'd be begging for an IFR.

In the situation you mention, Doug, I'd land SJC, grab a crew car, and get a bite to eat while waiting for the weather to come up a little. But that's just me ...

Of course I also had the luxury of instructing at an airport (non-towered) with an ILS and 200-1/2 minimums.

They may now, but not before 96 I think.

I think they may have a GPS approach now.
RHV does have GPS now. But that likely wouldn't have got you much closer than the ILS and move on over via the Capitol and Tulley approach you did would have. It is kinda amazing, with how busy RHV is now, especially since SJC is so GA unfriendly. $40 just to stop and turn around. You'd think RHV would come up with an approach other than GPS. Heck, now you got me all upset thinking about how they just need to make Moffett a GA airport, and the ILS there would solve the problems, and the ramp space would allow for all the parking needed for GA planes around the Bay Area.

Just fly in G and forget about special

Favorite question of a local DE is to point to Madera and say something like:

Can you get from here, to there? Ok, now what if vis is 5 and cig is 1000'. Now what if vis is 5 and cig is 700'. Ok, now what if vis is 2 and cig is 1000'. Ok, then, tell me what minimum conditions you must have to get from Fresno to Madera.
http://maps.myairplane.com/default.asp and select the SF Sectional, if ya'll want to take a look to see what the airspace is like around that area. This is about the middle of the sectional, 15 miles or so from FAT.
Ah! Madera and Fresno. Took a ride in a Cirrus SR22 and landed at both today. And, as a matter of fact, my examiner asked me that exact series of questions during my private oral. I suppose that makes it unfair for me to answer . . .
Ahh, beautiful MAE!

I used to fly a King Air that was in the southernmost hangar way back in the day.
Of course, you can continue on up to Chowchilla if you really want classy.

MAE is just used I think because of the airspace. And doing a can you go from here to here question, when from WVI out here you have a few hills to go over. The answer, can be yes, depending. And that is what the DE was asking for. Think that was during the commercial oral, but think he asked something with MAE during the private too.

If you can get special out of MAE, who do you call to get it? Or do you even need to make a call, if it is say, 900' and 1 mile. The way to learn about how special works is take a bunch of different airspace like this, and figure out what is needed, or if it is even possible. I just use MAE because I'm familiar with it. There is likely something similar on whatever your local sectional is.
MAE 30/12 is a fantastic runway! The only downside to heading there for the meat and potatoes part of my landing lessons was that it made places like Sierra Skypark and Selma seem pretty dang small.

I didn't know (or remember) that you had KingAir time, Doug. Man, those are some tough looking planes! We see them everyday at Mazzei and I like them more and more. Ah, someday!