...And Not For Those Uncomfortable With Fuzziness...

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When AVweb's Question Of The Week on Sept. 1 polled readers about flying VFR above a cloud layer, we heard from almost 1,400 of you, well above our average response, and received written comments from more. The QOTW described a flight in which a pilot took off VFR and landed VFR but flew en route above a solid layer that hid the ground, and asked if it was legal or not. Fifty-four percent of respondents said it was legal, but if an emergency had forced the pilot to descend into the clouds, it would have become illegal. Another 35 percent said it was a legal flight even if the pilot had to descend into the clouds, as long as the pilot declared an emergency first. Only 11 percent said the whole idea was not only dumb, but busted regs. Our first response from the FAA said that the 11 percent were correct -- that the flight would be illegal -- because if the engine quit the pilot would be stuck without a VFR option. That seemed to make sense, but further research, and our latest direct-from-FAA Flight Standards response, show that it was wrong.