You earned your instrument rating years ago, but you haven’t been current in a long time. Now you’re kicking yourself for that lapse in currency, because your VFR-only limitation is going to make an easy IFR flight a marginal VFR flight. You’re hoping to fly your 1972 Cessna 182 from your home in Middletown, Ohio (MWO), to Marion, Illinois (MWA). That flight should take just under two hours, but while the weather is great at your home airport and it seems to be good at your destination, in between isn’t as promising.

Proposed departure time is 3pm eastern (1900Z). Read the weather briefing below and tell us what you would do: go or no go?


The Maps page in ForeFlight shows a pretty calm weather picture, but the satellite layer suggests there might be some clouds to deal with.

The surface analysis shows a similarly calm picture, with a weak warm front running parallel to the Mississippi River.

The prog charts show no significant weather developing tonight.

Radar and satellite

The radar part is easy: there are hardly any returns anywhere in the central United States.

The satellite imagery is a little more complicated, especially for a VFR pilot. Your home airport is in a hole, but a thin layer of clouds seems to be sitting along your route.

The infrared satellite suggests it is indeed a shallow layer, so flying VFR over the top might even be an option.

Winds and clouds

The cloud forecast chart adds more details to the ceiling question. It looks like the layer starts at about 3000-3500 feet and the tops are at 5000 feet through southern Indiana. But remember, this is a forecast.

The winds aloft forecast at 6000 feet adds a little more detail—at least you won’t have much of a headwind.

Text weather

Your departure airport is showing severe clear, but is forecast to become marginal VFR overnight.

En route, a consistent ceiling seems to be hovering around 2500 or 3000 feet, but with good visibility and light winds underneath.

Your destination is showing good VFR conditions and is forecast to stay that way.

There’s one PIREP that might be helpful. Just south of your route, a regional jet reported bases at 3900 feet MSL and tops at 4700 feet.

Decision time

The weather definitely isn’t “bad,” but there are just enough clouds to make you think here. Do you launch and stay under the clouds, confident that you have good visibility and no rain? Do you climb up above the clouds and enjoy the sun, confident that your destination is clear? Or do you cancel, worried that this might turn into a scud run in the fading light of a December day?

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