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Airborne IFR Clearances

Source:, Featuring Doug Stewart


"One issue that comes up, Doug, is when pilots depart VFR and try and pick up their IFR clearance in the air. What are your thoughts on that?"


"Well you know, if it's severe clear there's really nothing wrong with that. Some Tracons are not really happy if you do it. But they'll usually help you out with it. But again the real issue there - is it severe clear? There are a lot of dead pilots that took off in marginal conditions trying to avoid a void time or avoiding that 15-minute wait for the Citation to come in, figuring well, we'll pick our clearance up in the air.

Take me at Columbia County. I'm departing off to the west on Vector 270. I've got some mountains out there. If those Catskills are obscured and I'm trying to be out there and get that clearance, I can't climb yet. And all of a sudden once I've got the clearance now I try to climb. But I'm already too close to the hills; the next thing I'm a dead pilot. So yes, you can pick the clearance up in the air, but if it isn't severe clear, I really recommend that you don't do it."


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