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Left Coast Pilot: Instrument Alternates

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March 2005

I flew from my home base (Modesto, Calif.) to Santa Monica this past weekend, and encountered a situation I’d never quite run into before: trouble coming up with a workable IFR alternate.
An alternate is a place to land in case you can’t get into your intended destination. It’s required on IFR flights, unless the destination weather follows the 1-2-3 rule: For one hour before and one hour after your planned time of arrival, you must have a cloud ceiling no lower than 2000 MSL, and at least 3 miles visibility.

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