This is similar question to this question, but different scenario.

Let me describe the situation:

I am at KDYL in class G airspace. Accroding to ATIS the clouds are at 4700 scattered. I am going to fly west. I would like to fly below clouds. I will need to have 500 feet clearance below clouds in class E, so it is going to be 4200.

Do I have to comply 91.159? What altitude should I fly? Can I fly 3500 west in my scenario or I have to descend below 3000 and fly any comfortable and safe altitude?

  • $\begingroup$ Note that the ASOS (not ATIS) will report ceilings in feet AGL, not MSL, and note that DYL is at an elevation of 400 MSL. Thus a report calling "ceiling 4700" means the ceiling is 5100 MSL; flying at 4500 MSL will provide sufficient cloud clearance. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Mar 1, 2021 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


Yes, you would have to comply with §§91.159. If you’re flying VFR westbound (180°-359° magnetic) at >3000 ft AGL, you will need to fly at even thousands + 500 ft, except while in a holding pattern or turning. For a forecast of scattered clouds, you will simply deviate from your course for cloud avoidance, then return to the route.

  • $\begingroup$ Can I descend to avoid clouds below 3000 ft to comply 91.159 and fly there for some time and then return to the route at 4500 when it is clear? $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2018 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ You can descend below 3000 ft AGL, and fly the route. But if that’s not possible for terrain or obstacle avoidance, you will have to maintain altitude and divert course or climb to an altitude which provides a VFR cloud clearance and fly there. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2018 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ Flying AT 3000ft (which 3k MSL is probably always below 3k AGL) is also allowed but people fly that altitude and below in both directions so keep your eyes peeled. TCAS/TIS and talking to ATC recommended also. $\endgroup$
    – p1l0t
    Jan 11, 2018 at 17:46

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