Taking off below minimums

I've gotten a couple of notes about my taking off IFR below minimums. Good questions, and deserving of an answer.

The MDA for my home airport, Reid-Hillview is 1440 ft.

Often during the summer there is a cloud deck at 800-1,200 ft. over RHV and the Silicon Valley, a layer of marine mosture that comes in late night and dissipates by 9-11 AM. It's usually dead calm inside, and only 300-400 ft. thick, and completely clear underneath. It's a drawback to VFR traffic, always a good idea to plan to take off after 9. But it's hardly a hazard to IFR flight. And, as we know, Part 91 operators can take off zero-zero if they choose.

The choice is the issue, if this meets the safety criteria for you.

For me, and to answer the questions, my safety criteria are met. Yes, I cannot return to RHV in case of an emergency with the ceilings below 1,440. But look at my normal IFR routing, almost every flight begins with; Left turn to 290, radar vectors SJC.

Which means that on almost every IFR takeoff I'm headed straight towards an ILS with a 200 ft. DA, five miles off my nose.

I consider that a very high safety factor, and in some ways safer than turning back towards RHV and trying to make a normal pattern if I were VFR.


That's the reason why I feel comfortable taking off below RHV's mins. Less than 600 ft., no, but any ceiling above 600 ft. yes.


29 July 2006