Instrument Flight Rules

Instrument Flight Rules, commonly called IFR, are a set of rules that apply to planes flying by instrument reference. This is in opposition to VFR (Visual Flight Rules), flown by visual references. Basically, if you can see where you are going, then VFR is an option, but IFR is always an option.

This set of rules requires a pilot to have an instrument flight plan and follow a set of procedures that govern communication and navigation.

IFR flying requires constant communication with ATC and a mixture of visual traffic separation when you are in VMC and reliance on ATC for separation when you are in IMC.

How do I know if I’m flying IFR?

If you have to ask, you’re not flying IFR!

But seriously, to fly IFR you will need to file an IFR flight plan, get a clearance from air traffic control, and comply with that clearance. You can fly IFR in VMC, but you can only log IFR, or “flight by reference to instruments” time when you are flying in actual IMC.

Class B Airspace

Class B airspace surrounds large, busy airports.

Its shape is generally an upside-down wedding cake but it can vary quite a bit. The main idea is that there are layers that get progressively wider and have a higher floor than inner layers.

For example, in St. Louis (pictured below) the inner ring extends from the surface up to 8000 feet MSL. Continue reading “Class B Airspace”

Class A Airspace

Class A is the simplest airspace to understand. There are no weather minimums to remember and there is no map to consult to locate class A airspace areas.

Class A airspace covers the continental United States and Alaska including the water out to 12 nautical miles from shore. The bottom of Class A airspace is at 18,000 feet MSL and the top is all the way up at flight level 600. Very few planes fly above FL600 (currently no airliners), so you can think of this as all of the high altitude airspace.

All aircraft in class A airspace must be operating under instrument flight rules. This is why there are no weather requirements. The communication requirements are equally easy to understand because before reaching 18,000 feet you will almost always already be operating under an instrument flight plan.

If you find yourself VFR below 18,000 feet in an aircraft equipped to reach class A airspace then you will need to call ATC and ask for an instrument clearance so you can begin operating under IFR before climbing.

Handling Passengers Part 3: Loud Passengers

Every year my home airport hosts a Fall Flying Festival and I always volunteer to fly passenger rides. These rides are given at a steep discount and they are always very popular.

To handle the demand the pilots shut down at a predetermined spot on the ramp and stay in the seat while loaders get the passengers switched out.

One year I reached the last flight of the day and two young children, probably around 8 years old, were placed into the back seat of the 172 I was flying. Takeoff went smoothly and I could hear them talking amongst themselves over the intercom. Soon they discovered that they could make loud noises into the microphone and startle each other. Continue reading “Handling Passengers Part 3: Loud Passengers”