Personal Minimums

"It's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground."

I am a private pilot. Unlike a commercial pilot, whose ongoing income depends on being able to fly, I'm flying for fun and can stop doing it whenever I want.

On average, private general-aviation flying has an accident rate comparable to riding motorcycles. That's a pretty sobering statistic, but something the raw numbers don't convey is that motorcycle accidents tend to be dominated by factors outside the rider's control (e.g., being run off the road by idiot drivers) whereas aircraft accidents are often caused by pilot decision making.

Happily, that gives us the opportunity to "opt-out" of accidents by making better decisions. For example, if 9% of accidents are caused by fuel exhaustion, a disciplined approach to fuel management, buttressed by decisions about when, where, and how often the aircraft should be refueled, can empower a pilot to say, "Ah, that entire category of accident doesn't apply to me."

I apply risk controls to my flying. The most basic risk control is a go/no-go evaluation performed before flying starts. I can't have an in-flight accident if I'm not in-flight.

I publish the criteria I use in my go/no-go decision making as an accountability measure.

These personal minimums will change over time: As my experience and aircraft capabilities improve, the go/no-go criteria will be amended to suit.

I welcome discussions about these from anyone, regardless of whether they are directly involved in my operations, particularly if there are situations where observers are unsure about whether or how I have applied these principles.

These minima are in addition to the legal minima in CASR Part 91.

Meteorological minima

I will not take off if the observed crosswind is in excess of 15 knots. If the wind is in excess of 20 knots, I will only accept a take off if it is within 15° of the runway alignment.

I will not take off VFR if cloud is within 1000' of ground. I will not take off "special VFR due cloud" unless there are enroute observations within 15 nautical miles which indicate CAVOK or a higher ceiling. I will not take off "special VFR due visibility" at all.

I will not take off IFR if there is SCT or thicker cloud below the instrument approach minimum to the same runway, or 500' AGL, whichever is higher.

I will not depart in more than light showers.

I will not depart if thunderstorms are within 15 nautical miles of the departure airport, unless they are clearly isolated and not on-track.

I will not depart IFR if the forecast freezing level in the GAF is below LSALT on any planned route segment.

I will not depart IFR if thunderstorms are forecast in the GAF on any planned route segment, and the cloud forecast and freezing level forecast indicates a likelihood that I will be cruising for an extended period in cloud.

I will not fly if the GAF indicates SEV TURB for any planned route segment.

Operational minima

My minimum arrival fuel reserve, taking into account all predicted meteorological conditions and diversion likelihoods, is 1 hour at leaned cruise power settings.

I will not fly above the freezing level except in nil cloud conditions by day.

The RV-6 has no published takeoff performance charts. I will not operate from a dry runway less than 650m or a wet runway less than 800m, and will abort a takeoff if I am not off the ground by the 400m point.

The RV-6 has no Minimum Equipment List to govern equipment unserviceabilities, but must comply at all times with the CASR Part 91 Manual of Standards.

Health minima

I will not fly if I have ear or sinus congestion.

I will not take off if I feel fatigued. I will not fly if I don't feel fatigued, but I received less than six hours sleep the night before.

I will not fly if I can't attest to successful completion of an IMSAFE check:


I will not fly if predicted operational considerations will require me to exceed 10,000' AMSL altitude and supplemental breathing oxygen is not available.

If I have symptoms of dehydration, I will not fly until I have consumed at least 1 litre of water and the symptoms have cleared.


These minima will be updated over time, in accordance with training, comfort levels, operational considerations and aircraft capabilities.

This revision is dated 13 November 2023.

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