Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Non-Airline Forums > Private Flying
Reload this Page >

Every day is a school day #2

Private Flying LAA/BMAA/BGA/BPA The sheer pleasure of flight.

Every day is a school day #2

Old 2nd Sep 2015, 06:57
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Glens o' Angus by way of LA
Age: 60
Posts: 1,975
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Every day is a school day #2

Went flying tonight 15 miles North from Santa Monica to Van Nuys for some pattern work and took a young kid from the local school as a casual ride along who has just started training for his IFR ticket. On the return at 7:30pm the basis were down to 2000 so the tops of the hills on either side of the Sepulveda Pass were mostly covered, the pass is about 1 mile wide and 6 miles long with the highest point being about 1100 AMSL,. Upon entering the pass at about 1800 AMSL I had an uninterrupted view of the car lights on the freeway below all the way thru and could clearly see the city lights in Santa Monica at the end of the Pass, the tops of the high rises and LAX beyond that. My right seat asked if he could fly the final part till we got to the pattern at SMO to which I agreed. About 2 miles from the end of the pass just before the J Paul Getty Center I went to start folding charts and getting things tidied away, the chart would not slide all the way into the door pocket so I looked down to see what was blocking it which took about 10 or 15 seconds, upon looking up we were in full IMC ! I was shocked, in 23 years of flying I have never stumbled by mistake from VFR into IMC . I immediately said to him “What the foxtrot are you doing?” He froze, the altimeter read 2000, I took control and expedited a descent down about 200 feet and into the clear.

Upon landing I asked him what had happened. He responded “Well we were flying at 1800 and I don’t believe I was climbing” I asked did you see the clouds in front? To which he said he did and well prior to entering. I asked if he had seen the cloud why did he fly into it? He said he wanted to "hold altitude" which puzzled me. I then asked why if he had seen it did he not descend? He said he felt we were to close to the ground (the ground at that point was about 500 amsl (1300 feet below us). So the takeaway I got was a trained private pilot would rather fly into a cloud than avoid it by descending with 1300 feet of room till the ground. Truly bizarre, I am not picking on the guy as an individual, merely wondering how that mindset manages to manifest itself in the decision making process of a trained pilot.

Lessons learned by me:
1. Regardless of the certifications, if you’re going to let a right seat fly, watch them like a hawk.
2. If conditions are not clear skies for miles no casual shots on the controls.
3. Never assume anything.
piperboy84 is offline  
Old 2nd Sep 2015, 08:42
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Most of us VFR only pilots know fully well that flying into IMC without IFR training and currency carries a very real risk of becoming a dead pilot.

Me, I'd be doing a 180, descending or doing whatever it took to remain VMC - but history shows that not all VFR pilots do this - clearly sometimes a a key survival strategy that is surely taught at every flight school is ignored.

Do you think the fact that he had started IFR training affected his decision making or was it a misjudgment of risk that had him feeling that the bigger risk was descending below cloud base when he felt so close to the ground?

CC
Captain Calamity is offline  
Old 2nd Sep 2015, 10:36
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: UK
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What astounds me is that he said nowt.

Maybe he thought it'd be fine since he had an instrument rated pilot sat next to him?
Loggerheads is offline  
Old 2nd Sep 2015, 12:45
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Radlett
Posts: 115
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What astounds me is that he said nowt
That is exactly what I was thinking.
londonblue is offline  
Old 2nd Sep 2015, 16:52
  #5 (permalink)  
Moderator
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 14,212
Received 48 Likes on 24 Posts
Originally Posted by Captain Calamity
Me, I'd be doing a 180, descending or doing whatever it took to remain VMC - but history shows that not all VFR pilots do this - clearly sometimes a a key survival strategy that is surely taught at every flight school is ignored.
The school I teach at part time, and my own opinions are that Piperboy did the right thing.

Knowing the height available below him, a gentle descent out of cloud, wings level, offers much better chance of getting out of cloud under good control than a 180.

Also, just as here, the majority of VFR PPLs, most times, will tend to climb into cloud, rather than fly into the side of it - so a gentle descent will almost always reverse that mistake efficiently.

There is a risk trade here: a VFR PPL needs to do something if they're in cloud. A descent *might* take them into terrain, and a 180 *might* cause a loss of control. It seems to me however, that the latter risk is usually much greater.

In my opinion.

G
Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 3rd Sep 2015, 08:58
  #6 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Glens o' Angus by way of LA
Age: 60
Posts: 1,975
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A 180 was not an option as we were flying thru a one mile wide pass with hills on both sides above the bases. It was either up or down. As for his silence, I have no idea what he was thinking.

Edit to add: since getting his private over a year ago he has had little to no actual flying hours but has spent a whole bunch of time in the sim, not sure if that gave him some type of lowered regard to the dangers of IMC conditions.

Last edited by piperboy84; 3rd Sep 2015 at 09:12.
piperboy84 is offline  
Old 3rd Sep 2015, 09:52
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: In the boot of my car!
Posts: 5,982
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
PiperBoy

the only problem with a descent in cloud and going ahead is you must be really sure of exactly where you are and terrain ahead before letting down.

You may know the cloud base was 1800 behind you but thats no guarantee ahead
its a hard call but once in cloud its sometimes better to climb in cloud to the MSA than a wing and a prayer let down.

You mentioned that you were in a valley with high ground close by on both sides and were not aware of the climb. How do you know he had also not moved to the right or left of your track over the high ground if it was that close? With almost no experience how did you know he had not turned in that cloud a common thing for non IMC pilots

Glad it turned out OK and have only posted this as a warning as we have all been there at some time or other and I stress the importance of knowing exactly where you are before letting down in IMC below the MSA especially with high ground close around you. there are too many CFIT accidents

Pace
Pace is offline  
Old 3rd Sep 2015, 10:31
  #8 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Glens o' Angus by way of LA
Age: 60
Posts: 1,975
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Pace,

You're right I didn't know if he had turned, and to be honest I didn't look at the DG upon taking control and immediately descending. I guess it was an act of faith and a feeling my attention had not been diverted for long enough to allow a significant turn and the recency of knowing that my path thru was clear providing I was at or below 1800 as the view thru the pass prior to handing over control was clear all the way thru and beyond at that altitude.
piperboy84 is offline  
Old 3rd Sep 2015, 13:48
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: In the boot of my car!
Posts: 5,982
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
PiperBoy I can remember being stuck by a pretty nasty front lying west to East across northern Scotland. Having just got in through a wall of CBs IFR and finding a small gap towards Aberdeen I did not relish the fact of departing IFR blind into that weather.

Looking at the satellite pictures of the weather it was blood red in a line but clear to the western isles and I elected to fly low level along Loch Ness to that clear weather to the west and then head south.

Set off VFR under the 800 foot cloud base but down the lock I was being forced lower and lower and the visibility was dropping further and further.
i was in a twin and kept the loch visual below me knowing there was high ground to the side.

i was then at 200 feet above the lake and the vis was atrocious in rain. When wisps of cloud started appearing below my 200 feet I decided enough was enough and climbed to the MSA for the area taking the rough ride in cloud till I burst out into blue sky to the west.

We have all done crazy things sometimes
Pace is offline  
Old 4th Sep 2015, 01:33
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: EU
Posts: 497
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have to admit if the time scale was as you say then I don't know if I would have looked at the DG either! I also would have made a quick descent straight ahead with the caveat that if I didn't get VMC again when I thought I would be then its an immediate climb to MSA.

As for the actions of your RHS pilot, you mentioned about him not having flown much, flying simulators and starting IFR training. It makes me wonder if he was looking outside at all and maybe was just looking at the 6 pack/screen in front of him! I know that doesn't match what he said but I am sure we all have bent the truth or tried to excuse our errors at some point in the past when caught out. At least if this IS what he did, you had more chance of him not turning off heading!
OhNoCB is offline  
Old 7th Sep 2015, 23:41
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: England
Posts: 858
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As the pilot in command 15 secs away from becoming IMC you chose the wrong moment to become distracted by something that didnt need urgent attention. The first action on becoming IMC is to determine the minimum safe altude to descend to or climb above, not to just descend.

How can you be surpised at the actions of someone who has just started IFR training, There are many very experienced IFR pilots who have ended up being ex pilots due to taking the wrong action while IMC!
Pull what is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.