# AOPA ePilot Custom ContentAOPA ePilot Custom Content

The following stories from the February 29, 2008, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
WHAT'S THE CEILING?
When it comes time for you to fly solo, your instructor will note limiting weather conditions for your flights in your logbook. One limit likely will be the lowest ceiling under which you are permitted to solo. Another may be a minimum visibility value. [See the Jan. 27, 2006, Training Tip "Solo Limitations."]

Not all cloud cover represents a ceiling. It depends on how much of the sky is visible. The definitions used to describe sky cover carry inferences as to whether a ceiling exists. "A ceiling, for aviation purposes, is the lowest layer of clouds reported as being broken or overcast, or the vertical visibility into an obscuration like fog or haze. Clouds are reported as broken when five-eighths to seven-eighths of the sky is covered with clouds. Overcast means the entire sky is covered with clouds," explains chapter 10, page 17 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge .

You'll find current sky conditions in aviation routine weather reports (METARs) and many automated observations. Sky cover reported as less than broken (few clouds, or scattered layers) does not constitute a ceiling. See the table of contractions on chapter 11, page 6 of the handbook for sky cover, represented in eighths (octas) of the sky from horizon to horizon, for each description.

Why octas? "Students frequently ask why sky cover and obscurations are reported in octas rather than tenths. The four cardinal points of the compass (N, E, W, S) and the four intercardinal points (NE, NW, SE, SW) divide the compass into eight sectors. Cloud cover and obscurations are easy to evaluate if you observe the conditions that exist in each of the eight sectors and base your report on how many sectors that condition occupies," Ralph Butcher explains in the August 2002 AOPA Flight Training column "Insights." Sky cover is also an element in pilot reports (pireps). See "Answers for Pilots" in the February 2006 AOPA Pilot and be sure to scan pireps for those valuable observations that only airborne pilots can provide.

On nonflying days, practice estimating sky cover and comparing your conclusions with aviation weather reports. Also check out the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online course "Weather Wise: Ceilings and Visibility" to further sharpen your skills.

My ePilot - Training Product