With the intention of landing, taking off, or entering the traffic pattern at an airport in Class E airspace, what is the minimum ceiling and visibility as a VFR pilot in the USA.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can't you easily find that online? $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Apr 19, 2018 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


VFR cloud clearance requirements are listed in 14 CFR 91.155 and for Class E airspace specifies:

Class E:
Less than 10,000 feet MSL.
Flight Visibility: 3 statute miles
Distance From Clouds: 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above, 2,000 feet horizontal.

At or above 10,000 feet MSL.
Flight Visibility: 5 statute miles
Distance From Clouds: 1,000 feet below, 1,000 feet above, 1 statute mile horizontal.

There is also a requirement specific to Class E surface areas that says that the ceiling must be at least 1,000 feet in order to operate in the airspace. It is also listed in 91.155:

(c) Except as provided in Sec. 91.157, no person may operate an aircraft beneath the ceiling under VFR within the lateral boundaries of controlled airspace designated to the surface for an airport when the ceiling is less than 1,000 feet.

Note that there are exceptions for both of these that refer to 91.157 Special VFR Weather Minimums if you are instrument rated and the aircraft is instrument equipped.

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    $\begingroup$ Given a scenario of clouds being at exactly 1,000 ft AGL over a Class E surface area airspace, would it be correct to say that the pilot operating under VFR would have to fly the pattern at no greater than 500 ft AGL to keep cloud clearance per class E requirements? $\endgroup$ Feb 22, 2017 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @RyanGriffith That's correct! $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Feb 22, 2017 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ That's sure to piss the neighbors off. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Dec 16, 2019 at 13:33

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