Yes, you can fly a plane VFR in rain as long as the visibility limits are met for your air space and altitudes. When flying below 3,000 feet AMSL or 1,000 above the terrain, you can fly in VFR in the rain if the sky is clear of clouds and in sight of water/the ground and also the flight visibility must be 5km. However, heavier rain that reduces visibility will prevent pilots from flying as it is unsafe.
Whenever you fly through any rain, be it a light shower or even just a drizzle from the base of the clouds then you should keep an eye on the engine RPM, and in damp conditions apply the carburetor to heat to full more frequently.
More experienced pilots will feel more confident and comfortable flying in rain, but pilots who have only just attained their license or do not have the correct instrument training may be wary of flying in rain, even though the majority of the time it is pretty safe to do so.
What many people don’t take into account when considering the flight visibility is that you’ll experience a reduction in visibility when the rain hits the window of the plane, so even if the visibility is above the minimum you may have trouble seeing properly when you’re flying in the rain.
Pilot’s also need to be aware of freezing rain and should re-route or avoid routes where it is reported or forecast freezing rain. Freezing rain causes ice to build up very quickly on the wings and also blocks the air filters, proving very difficult to control the plane and also decreased visibility on your windshield.
Can student pilots fly in rain?
Yes, a student pilot can fly in rain as long as their license and visibility requirements allow it. It’s considered good practice for student pilots to fly in marginal weather to improve their confidence with flying in various conditions, those who never experience flying in rain or testing conditions during their training may feel underprepared when they can fly solo.
Even though you may cover flying in adverse weather during the theory part of your training, putting that information into practice and being able to properly understand what to do when flying in rain or marginal conditions is a different thing.
Can you fly a Cessna in rain?
Yes, you can fly a Cessna or any other light aircraft in rain as long as it’s down a heavy downdraft of rain from conditions like thunderstorms. However, heavier and more intense rain may smother the air filter which will prevent adequate airflow from getting into the engine.
As long as your RPM on your carburetor is normal and doesn’t begin to drop then flying in the rain and marginal conditions are fine. For peace of mind, you can use the partial carburetor heat to allow everything to flow as normal.
The only time it won’t be ok to fly a Cessna in rain is if visibility is massively reduced and below the minimum requirements.
Can you fly VFR in the snow?
Yes, you can fly VFR in the snow as long as the conditions meet the minimum visibility requirements and the visibility and forecast are safe to fly in for the duration of your flight.
Heavy snow can quickly decrease visibility within seconds and can become a bit disorientating even for some more experienced pilots, so you’ll need to make sure to turn on your pitot heat and scan the instruments.
Snow doesn’t normally stick to the airframe and won’t cause too much of an icing threat, however, flying through the snow in warmer temperatures may cause a blockage of the induction system.
If you’re flying in freezing temperatures then you’ll need to ensure you de-ice your aircraft thoroughly before taking off and make sure to use the carburetor heat to keep airflow at an optimum across the aircraft.
How high can I fly VFR?
Visual flight rules maintain that aircraft must be flown at least at an altitude of 500 feet above the surface, apart from over open waters or less populated areas. However, these rules will vary depending on the area you are flying through and may also differ from aircraft to aircraft.
Are VFR cruising altitudes mandatory?
Yes, VFR cruising altitudes are mandatory and may differ depending on what area of the world you’re flying in. You will only need to comply with these cruising altitudes if you are flying 3,000 feet above ground level.