VFR Cloud Clearance Requirements

It is not easy to remember the cloud clearance and visibility requirements for VFR flight. I recommend splitting these things up into pieces and trying to memorize them separately. Once you do this, they easily break down into a few rules. Click here for the visibility rules.

VFR Cloud Clearance Types

There are only 3 types of cloud clearance to think about.

  • Clear of clouds. You may fly as close to the cloud as you want but not so close that you enter any part of them. This is the least restrictive clearance requirement.
  • 152: 1000 ft above, 500 ft below, 2000 ft horizontal. This is the most common requirement.
  • 111: 1000 ft above, 1000 ft below, 1 statute mile horizontal. This is the least common requirement and very rarely applies.

VFR Cloud Clearance Rules

  1. In most airspace, the 152 requirement applies
  2. In class B airspace you only need to be clear of clouds. This is because you are in full contact with ATC. There is no danger of IFR traffic transitioning a cloud and colliding with you because ATC is handling traffic separation.
  3. During the day, under 1,200 ft AGL, in class G airspace you only need to be clear of clouds. When you are this low there isn’t much room for extra clearance from clouds. It is safer to allow aircraft to get close to clouds than to have them fly even lower near terrain.
  4. Above 10,000 ft in Class E or G airspace you must follow the 111 rule. 

Rare Exceptions

  1. If you are above 10,000 feet MSL but below 1,200 feet AGL then rule 3 applies. This means that you may be clear of clouds during the day but you must follow the 152 rule at night.
  2. If you are flying at night in an airport traffic pattern (in class G airspace) within one half mile of the runway, and the visibility is at least one mile, you may operate clear of clouds. 91.155(b)(2)