Steering Clear of Instrument Approach Paths

Even if you only fly VFR in good weather, it pays to check for the location of instrument approaches along your route of flight. Just as you always ensure that your course doesn't take you dangerously close to terrain or obstacles, you also want to avoid flying through the inbound course of an approach that may be in use.

The reasons should be fairly obvious. Even on good weather days, IFR traffic often concludes a flight with an instrument approach. VFR traffic might be shooting practice approaches as well, and not always to the runway you think makes the most sense based on the surface winds. As always, make sure you monitor the CTAF of nearby airports.

Keeping clear of instrument approach paths requires a little extra work on your part, but taking the extra time to make sure you avoid them can pay big dividends in safety. Usually the best way to ensure you don't wander across an active approach is to cruise at altitudes above 3,000 feet agl. If there is an airport with instrument approaches near your departure or destination, review the appropriate charts to make sure your flight path steers you well clear of these hazardous areas.


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