Ask a CFI – minimum visibility for student pilots

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What is the minimum visibility required for a student pilot operating in the airport traffic pattern while in Class G airspace during the daytime?

While the basic VFR weather minimums outlined in § 91.155 specify a minimum flight visibility of 1 statute mile and clear of clouds when 1,200 feet or less above the surface (AGL) in the daytime, the general student pilot limitations of § 61.89 do not permit student pilots to operate with less than 3 miles of flight or surface visibility during daylight hours (5 miles at night); therefore, the answer is 3 miles.

The fact that the student pilot is flying in the traffic pattern is irrelevant in this context; however, for certified pilots, there is an exception to basic VFR weather minimums in Class G airspace that allows a pilot to operate with a minimum of 1 mile of flight visibility in Class G airspace at night as long as the airplane remains within ½ mile of the runway. The standard basic VFR weather minimums at night in Class G airspace are 1 mile of flight visibility, 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above and 2,000 feet horizontally from clouds when below 1,200 AGL.

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Eric Radtke
1 reply
  1. Bob McDonald says:

    Has anyone ever flown within the SOCAL/ LA basin, particularly during the summer months….at 3-
    5 sm’s, even a seasoned pilot can become disoriented very easily… They may be calling it VFR, but that can be questionable at best…re; your endorsements better be well thought out so as not to be misinterpreted by the student pilot…3 MILES AIENT ALWAYS 3 MILES!!!

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