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ATC - Worth their weight in gold!!!!

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ATC - Worth their weight in gold!!!!

Old 13th Nov 2003, 23:36
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Down the field!
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ATC - Worth their weight in gold!!!!

Went flying today from Sturgate, up to the Humber and spurn point. The weather wasn’t the best, but it was ok… There was a bit of haze about but it was well within limits, and there was a good 10K viz... I was talking to Humberside radar all the way.

Anyway, recovering back to Sturgate, I have to descend due to low cloud. I descend a bit more, and a bit more until I’m at 600’. It’s not looking good, but I’m still with Humberside and there’s only 6 miles to run. I could see Hibalstow and Kirton in lindsey… Then suddenly, it’s totally white… I cant see anything in front, above, and more importantly, below! I descend another 100’ down to 500’. I still can’t see anything.

I’d never been in a situation like that before. I must be honest, for the fist 30 secs or so, I was ‘worried / scarred / nervous’… Anyway, I made a 180 turn, called Humberside back, told them the situation I was in and asked what the Wx was like there. They said it was pretty good. So, I climbed in top of the haze and got Humberside to direct all the way in.

The morel of this store… Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

If the controller at Humberside is reading this… THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH for all your help today… I really appreciate it.

Fortunately my passenger had never flown in a light aircraft before and had no idea of the seriousness of the situation!
Grob Driver is offline  
Old 13th Nov 2003, 23:54
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Well done for keeping your head, many storeys have been told with a different ending.
YYZ is offline  
Old 13th Nov 2003, 23:55
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
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Good to read it all ended well!

Why not give them a ring to say thank you, am sure they'd appreciate it!


Take it the IMC is at the top of your Xmas list now?
Flyin'Dutch' is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 02:24
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Join Date: May 2002
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Well done fellow, you did the right thing!!!

Too many pilots are to stubborn to ask for help!!
cblinton@blueyonder. is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 02:58
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Flying Dutch mentions an IMC. I too am interested in an IMC however I know little about it and its uses and would appreciate your comments on how it would have come in helpful in this particular situaton. I fly from a field with no instrument approach procedures. Presumably this is the same at Sturgate? Would I be wasting my time and money going for it? OK i could divert elsewhere to a better equiped field but then i could be stranded for days.... Your comments appreciated.
Number Cruncher is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 04:11
  #6 (permalink)  
Carbonfibre-based lifeform
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Number Cruncher,

The IMC gives you a much better chance of emerging alive from this sort of situation, which must count as a significant plus!

Many people have been caught out in this sort of weather in the UK. Grob Driver did well to execute a 180 degree turn in a stressful and dangerous situation, but this is a classic fatal accident scenario.

The biggest benefit of the IMC in this sort of circumstance is that you don't need to get into it in the first place.

Instead of being forced to keep descending to maintain VMC you can stay at a safe altitude inside the cloud or climb above it if that's practicable. The IMC training will teach you how to do that - not to IR standards, but well enough to keep you alive. You will also be legal, though in such a situation that probably isn't one's main worry.

As far as the lack of any instrument procedures at your home field goes you're right - it means that the IMC (or IR for that matter) isn't going to get you all the way home by aeroplane, but at least no part of the journey will involve a hearse!

The cheaper alternative to the IMC is simply to be cautious about the weather. At this time of year that means a lot of days when you either stay at home, or end up stranded somewhere. If you need to use an aircraft as a vaguely practical means of transport then an IMC (and a night qualification) is pretty much a pre-requisite for a large part of the year. If on the other hand you prefer flying on nice days rather than miserable ones then you may never use an IMC, though there's quite a lot to be said for it simply as a means to learn about some different aspects of flying. Almost everyone finds that the IMC course improves their general flying too.
Fly Stimulator is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 04:49
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Number Cruncher:
The October issue of the AOPA magazine General Aviation carries six pages on the IMCand IR, how, where, how much, and particularly, why. It makes the unarguable point that the British Isles is no place to be flying about with a basic PPL at this time of year. Getting an IMC rating is about the most sensible thing you can do, and it's worth starting the course as soon as the ink is dry on your PPL. It's saved a lot of lives, mine included. Get one.
t'aint natural is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 05:52
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Thanks for all the kind words of support…

I’ve phoned Humberside and told them of my appreciation. The reality is that if there had been on one to talk to then I’d have been in real trouble. It taught me an awful lot today…. How you can be happily flying along VFR, and before you know it, you’re into IMC conditions.

Number Cruncher… Sturgate has no instrument approach procedures, but that’s really not a problem… You should always be able to find somewhere to land (like Humberside). Yes, the aircraft might be stranded there for a few days, even weeks and it might cost £20 a night, but who cares… The reality is that it could well save your bacon!!! I don’t want to sound like an expert because I’m not. I’m still very much a young pilot who is learning all the time. But one thing is for sure… I’ll be starting my IMC training very soon!

I can honestly say those first few minutes were awful, having to keep descending to maintain sight of the ground, was one of the biggest problems…. Not only did I end up lost and disorientated, I was also VERY low… A bad combination to be in! It might have been better if I’d experienced that before with an instructor, but I was on my own. Despite having someone on the end of the radio, it felt very lonely when I popped out on top of the haze and it was all white!!

I guess I was fortunate today… I cant stress to people enough how valuable ATC are, and if you need help… Ask!!!
Grob Driver is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 06:51
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The main difference between having a straight PPL and an IMC is that next time that GD found himself in this situation he would have more arrows to his bow.

Climbing into safety (albeit in IMC) would be one.

If you are going for an IMC rating make sure that your instructor knows what he/she is talking about so that they can teach you beyond the basics.

More emphasis should be on en-route and cockpit management than most people experience.

Flyin'Dutch' is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 07:09
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Why do it if it's not fun?
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IMC Rating at airfields with no published approach

Nice one, Grob Driver - you lived to tell the tale, which means a job well done. I've never experienced that myself, but I've come close, and I can imagine it's not pleasant.

As for using an IMC rating at a field with no instrument approach, yes it certainly can be useful. Under IFR, you have to be at least 1000' above the nearest object within 5nm. So, if your field doesn't have a published approach, you can still use your IMC skills to fly directly overhead the field. Once overhead, you can descend (or you could descend on the way to the field) to 1000' above blah blah.... Hopefully you'll become visual in that time, and you can then switch to VFR. As an IMC-rated pilot, you can legally fly VFR with vis as low as 1500m - not something you'd ever use for a cross-country, but useful for getting into a field after becoming VFR in the vicinity.

Of course, if you can't become visual without breaking the IFR low-flying rules, that's the time to divert to your nearest airfield with an instrument approach.

FlyingForFun is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 15:48
  #11 (permalink)  

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I did the same as you Grob a while back. I was getting squeezed down by the cloud until I was at 900', with terrain up to 300' below me, with hills to 900' around me with antennas up to 1300', hidden somewhere ahead of me. I tell you it was a scary place to be. The difference between your flight and my flight was when I had had enough, I gave it full power and climbed to FL45 and became IFR.

I was doing this VFR flight as an experiment to see how far I could go, and to be honest had I not had instrument training, I would have probably ended up in a field....I recommend getting an IMC it may save your life sometime....

Under IFR, you have to be at least 1000' above the nearest object within 5nm
Unless intending to land of course.....

englishal is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 16:58
  #12 (permalink)  
Simplicate and Add Lightness
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Talking Still Smiling

Hope this isn't too off-topic...

Had my first few IMC lessons earlier this week - just can't recommend it highly enough.

The last lesson had me in foggles (and actual IMC) finding the airfield, holding until I was nearly getting giddy, then doing the procedural let down. It was an amazing feeling when, at 850' the foggles were removed and the runway was sitting there slap bang in front of me

Better than the first solo in my book - and still grinning madly when I think about it
In Altissimus is offline  
Old 14th Nov 2003, 21:03
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In Altissimus

Well done. The IMCR should be the baseline for any PPL who wants to actually go somewhere.
IO540 is offline  
Old 15th Nov 2003, 06:43
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Thumbs up

Well done Grob Driver! Turning back before the situation really gets out of hand shows good airmanship - perhaps THE most important quality to be a safe pilot.

Once got into a comparable situation myself, and the IMC rating allows you to get out of it. As has been mentionned, it will also improve your standard of flying. Highly recommended!


P.S.: once safely on the ground, I assume the drinks were on you...
FougaMagister is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2003, 01:40
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Under IFR, you have to be at least 1000' above the nearest object within 5nm

Unless intending to land of course.....

I think FFF meant the HIGHEST object within 5 nm!

You must still remain 1000 ft above etc. EVEN IF you are intending to land, UNLESS you are following a published approach procedure. Otherwise we would all be setting up GPS approaches to our local strip and barrelling in in all weathers!
eyeinthesky is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2003, 02:12
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Grob Driver,

Good job in getting out of it unscathed.

Don't forget, there is often (not always, depending on terrain, etc.) the option of a precautionary landing in a suitable field.

As an ex-glider pilot, I still have the habit of looking at the ground around me in terms of suitable landing sites.

Remembering one a few miles back might save your bacon sometime! Getting down safely when you have still got power, fuel and visibility has to be a good result, even if it's tricky to move the aeroplane afterwards!


Saab Dastard is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2003, 03:09
  #17 (permalink)  

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You must still remain 1000 ft above etc. EVEN IF you are intending to land,
If you're in G airspace, and landing at an airport WITHOUT a published IAP then you can descend down to below 1000' so long as you comply with the other relevant rules of the air (rule 5 for example). There is no reason why you cannot create your own GPS or other procedure outside controlled airspace, and its not illegal UNLESS a published IAP already exists. May sound a stupid thing to do, but imagine you're coming into an airport on the coast. If you are 100% certain of your position (GPS / cross radials confirm etc) and you're over the sea, then realistically it can be a relatively safe thing to do.

englishal is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2003, 09:11
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Why do it if it's not fun?
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Eyeinthesky - well spotted. You're right, that's exactly what I meant.

I decided not to mention descending below 1000' in order to land where there's no published approach, because I know it's a contentious issue, and I didn't want to drag the thread off-topic! I agree that, as far as I can tell, it's legal, and in some cases can be safe, though.

FlyingForFun is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2003, 23:47
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Descent B010 in G airspace is exactly what is done in the company for whom I work on the ambulance flights. This is often in some quite ......er.......challenging(!) conditions.

The trick is to be thoroughly familiar with the region and use whatever navaids are available eg I often fly a 12.5 DME ARC over the ocean to position myself over a village from which I can track visually in minimum VMC conditions to another town which is directly on final. I have a radial from a regional airport 25nm away that marks the furthest point around the arc I should fly - there are hills further on - & fixes the initial town. If I can't get visual then I can try an alternative procedure using similar techniques from another direction. After that it's a diversion to an ILS.
Tinstaafl is offline  
Old 17th Nov 2003, 16:41
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
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What avionics fit is needed in the aircraft before you can do the IMC course? I'd like to do the course, but our aircraft only has VOR, no ADF, no DME.
Kolibear is offline  

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