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Here's a real world example to think about....
I was inbound to an airport with FSS on the field and Class E to the surface. At about 15 miles out FSS reported the visibility was quickly dropping. By the time I got to 5 miles FSS was reporting less than 1/4 in fog.
It was clear and beautiful where I was and had the field in sight. I could see that half the field, including the FSS, was socked in with sea fog. The rest of the field (and the world for that matter) was VFR to the moon.
As a Part 91 flight I could fly an instrument approach with less than minimums reported. Unfortunately, I was flying Part 135 and didn't have this option.
At this point, what would you do?
I initially requested a special VFR since I had the field in sight. This was turned down by FSS since the reported visibility needs to be at least one mile. I then requested a visual approach from Center but was denied for the same reason. I eventually got cleared for a contact approach based on the fact that I had at least one mile of flight visibility and landed without incident.
After putting the plane to bed, I looked up the regs and confirmed a sneaky suxxxxion; a contact approach requires one mile of REPORTED visibility so center should never have cleared me. BTW... As I taxied to the ramp, I entered the fog. It was thick!! I could barely see from one taxi light to the next.
In my mind, the legality of the landing is still up in the air (no pun intended). If the FAA should ever question me on this, I will claim that I had three miles of flight visibility and stayed at least 2000 feet from clouds (minumums for flying in Class E below 10,000 MSL). I could also claim that I was in an emergency situation, but that would cause all sorts of additional headaches.
I'd be interested in hearing any comments, suggestions, even the "you stupid idiot, what were you thinking" stuff.
Common sense should always come first.
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