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Can You Land VFR On A Runway That's Half Covered In Fog?

Your destination has VFR weather on one half of the runway, and IFR conditions on the other half. Can you legally land? Even if you can, is it a good idea?

Boldmethod

The Scenario

Here's the scenario: Your destination airport is halfway covered in low clouds/fog. It's a non-towered, Class G airport. As you approach the airport, you can clearly see the runway threshold, the runway numbers, and about half of the runway stripes. Beyond that, the rest of the runway is covered in fog, and you can't see any part of the runway through the fog.

You've made your standard radio calls as you approach the airport, and you haven't gotten radio calls from any other aircraft at the airport.

Is it legal to land? Is it a good idea?

Boldmethod

Each Airspace Has Its Own Cloud Clearance Requirements

Weather minimums for airports found within class B, C, D, E, and G airspace differ widely, not to mention an SVFR clearance. If you have trouble understanding which airspace an airport lies within, check out our National Airspace System Training Course.

Coastal airports like Katama (1B2) in Martha's Vineyard are examples where weather like this can happen. The airport itself is within Class G airspace (below 700' AGL). That means your weather minimums during the day are very lenient: 1 SM visibility, clear of clouds. That's it.

Clearly, you could maintain your weather requirement on final approach. The trouble is in planning for a go-around or rapidly changing conditions...

Boldmethod

Practically, This Is A Bad Idea

Based on the conditions, it probably would be legal to land under VFR, assuming you could maintain 1SM of flight visibility while they were in flight. But beyond legality, it's not a great idea.

Fog and low clouds can form rapidly, and often more quickly than you can analyze from several miles away. Plus, a go-around might result in you flying VFR into IMC, which also happens to be the leading cause of fatal general aviation accidents.

On top of that, low fog could obscure the other end of the runway, preventing you from visually clearing it of traffic. In the worst-case scenario, another airplane could be attempting an opposite direction IFR takeoff.

Swayne Martin

What Do You Think?

What do you think? If you can maintain VFR regulations to the ground, are you legal to land? Or do the safety implications of a go-around into IMC break regulations? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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