Instrument approach in VFR

In IMC, you’re cleared for an instrument approach to an uncontrolled field, say the VOR/DME RWY 1 into Rutland, VT (KRUT).

A few miles out from the field, IMC turns to VMC and the runway’s in sight. Would you normally continue the VOR approach and conduct a straight-in landing on RWY1, announcing on the radio of your intentions, or would you perform a traditional VMC landing (cross at midfield/downwind/base)?



As far as ATC goes, you were cleared for the instrument approach. As PIC you can do whatever you need, but keep in mind that with that instrument approach clearance, ATC has protected the airspace around the airport for your instrument approach (per your clearance for that approach). If it becomes VMC prior to ATC dropping your target, announce your intentions with the controller. They can then clear you visually into that airport, leaving you on your own as far as landing goes. But if ATC sees the field as IMC, they’ve protected the entire area from IAF all the way down for you. Best to not go off doing what you need to do until you’re switched over to the CTAF and have maded it to the FAF.


What he said. Just be very careful about canceling IFR during that transition to a visual approach. I’ve heard guys cancel when they had the airport in sight, even though it was 1200 and 2. Make sure you have legal VFR weather before you cancel in the air.

And, if you are still on the IFR clearance you must still adhere to any restrictions, such as no circling north of the airport etc. If nobody else is in the pattern do what you want, I also like to cancel IFR so the next airplane can get started. Just make sure ATC knows you havn’t landed yet so they don’t clear somebody out on runway 19 while you are talking on CTAF and landing on 1.

I typically continue the approach making sure everyone knows where I am. Saying ROXIE inbound means nothing to a student pilot. So I’ll say 5 mile final on the instrument approach. If it’s really busy I’ll cancel and break off entering the upwind leg VFR

Frank Holbert


There was an event years ago (Golf?) and the uncontrolled airport was IFR. The Biz Jet pilots were canceling as soon as the broke out so the next guy could get in.

The FAA was sitting on the field with a hand held and violated several for canceling.

Frank Holbert


ATC does NOT clear aircraft onto a runway at a uncontrolled airport.

Frank Holbert


Of course not, what I meant was they will give an IFR release if the inbound cancels IFR. The situation I’ve seen is the inbound cancels, gets the acknowledgment from ATC then immediately switches to CTAF while the outbound is reading back his release on the ATC frequency. They don’t hear each other. The controller should mention to the departing traffic that somebody has just canceled but sometimes they don’t. The other mistake I’ve seen is not using both radios to prevent just that situation, if you have 2 that is. Too many pilots leave one on the FBO’s unicom or ATIS frequency then turn down the volume, that doesn’t do you any good. Or talking without listening. that bugs the beezwax out of me.
I am also not recommending canceling if the weather is not pretty good, keep the clearance just for the reasons mentioned. I learned to fly at a pretty busy uncontrolled field, canceling after breaking out at 1700 with good visibility just sped things up for the 5 aircraft in line.

John in Saudi

AOPA magazine has an article on this exact scenario. It happened a few years ago in Rhode Island.