Jump to content

VFR>>IMC • US pilot's video fess-up


Recommended Posts

In (almost) real time this video shows just how disorienting it is to find yourself suddenly in IMC on a VFR flight, even - as here - if you're IFR rated and AP equipped.  

 

 

FROM THE YOUTUBE DESCRIPTION:

 

"I am publicly sharing this embarrassing video of an inflight emergency that was totally due to pilot error! I hope it will help someone else learn from my mistakes. I've decided to turn on the "comments" section so that others in the pilot community can learn from each others insights and comments. PLEASE be gentle on me! In the comfort of my home today, it's very clear how many bad decisions were made. I promise you, in the moment, it simply wasn't that clear. I made some stupid decisions that began to build as time went on. It's as simple as that. UPDATED...... Here are some answers to additional questions raised by others...
 
1) Q. Why didn't I just file IFR to begin with? A. The weather on this leg of the trip looked "fine". 7,000' AGL ceilings in Farmington NM and 6,500' ceilings in Page AZ. Weather at both ends, and my last 2 hours of flight, showed that I had plenty of ceiling for a safe VFR flight. Since I was flying over Monument Valley and all its beauty, I wanted the ability to go lower and circle if I wanted. But, here's where the problem arose, there are no weather stations between those two points of my flight. This is a very remote part of the US. There is 168 NM distance between those two points with no reported weather. I had no way of knowing in advance that the clouds just after Monument Valley would erode to just below 1,000' AGL. It simply happened, but without weather reports in that area, I was not able to "plan" for it. Not saying filing IFR every time isn't a good practice. Just sharing insights on why I didn't on this particular trip.
 
2) Q. Why didn't you use your auto-pilot more? A. GREAT question!! I should have! But, what doesn't show well in the video (due to stabilization technology of the camera) is the turbulence I encountered. Just before entering IMC, my AP had begun to porpoise (oscillate up and down). That has happened before on rare occasions, and when it does, I simply disengage the AP, steady the plane, then reset AP. I did use the AP for much of the video, but when airspeed went to zero and stall warning kicked in, I THOUGHT I had lost my AP. I have learned since then that the AP was still working!!! When the AOA stall warning alarm went off I felt a sudden and strong pitch up of the plane. This was the anti-stall feature of the autopilot kicking off, not the AP shutting down. Garmin AP servos will pitch the plane downward if they sense and impending stall. That's what it did when I was losing airspeed. When the IAS gets below 30 KIAS, it kicks off. So, what I felt was not the AP kicking off, but the impending stall limiter kicking off (that's why it pitched up). When I took the control stick in my hand, I hit the disengage button because I didn't think it mattered at that point. The AP was off in my mind already. That's why I was "hand flying" during the worst part of this emergency.
 
3) Q. For an IFR rated pilot, why was this such a big deal? A. Two things to understand. One, you are seeing my piloting skills during the 15 minutes of me at my very worst. What you don't see are the 1,100 hours of safe, competent flying under my belt. 191 of those hours in IMC conditions with no previous safety concerns. This video illustrates what can happen to someone when they encounter IMC they don't plan for! It was like someone slipped me the "stupid pill" and sucked very ounce competency out of my brain! That's point of posting this. Don't let it happen to you! Second thing to understand, I'm sure professional pilots (military and commercial) would not have panicked or had their brains shut down like mine. They are pros, with many more hours of experience and with the ability to practice such emergencies in multi-million dollar simulators! I don't have access to that level of training, or the ability to fly as much. I'm not a "pro", I'm an average amature that simply enjoys flying. I will never be as good as the pros. Just like I'll never shoot a 66 on the golf course (even though the pros can), I will never be as good or practiced as a "pro" pilot. This video is for the amature, "average" pilot to learn a valuable lesson from, TURN AROUND!!!
 
 
 
 
 
  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

a great video to show how bad no visual is, I watched both horizons when he was banking steep whilst fiddling with the tech, cringing at how steep the angle was becoming.
Bushfire smoke is closest I’ve came to fir for real, not a place you want to be. Every noise seems extreme when you lose visual. 
thanks for sharing

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Yeah, for me, one of his most telling observations was this:

 

"It was like someone slipped me the 'stupid pill' and sucked every ounce of competency out of my brain!" 

 

That panic reflex is really the joker in the Human Factors pack.  Our thinking powers depart just when we need them most. We can't really know how we will react; and it's a tough one to train for.  How do you simulate losing it?

 

Maybe the mantra should be  "Aviate, meditate, navigate, meditate, communicate, meditate"  😉

Edited by Garfly
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know were the time to meditate comes from. When the crap hits the fan Load shed to doing the "essentials". Don't overload yourself by being distracted by peripherals. That means FLY the plane. Keep it under control. Next point it somewhere that helps. Then talk to someone IF that doesn't overload you. Some times they may be able to assist other times they may not help much. Usually the buck stops with (just) you. Will YOU panic? You never really know till it happens.  IF you do panic you very much reduce your ability to perform effectively. Work out what  "systems" you have going for you and perform actions deliberately and carefully so you don't make errors and have to repeat or correct things.. Do an effective abbreviated check if you are short of time..

 With IMC flying you not only need the qualification but also RECENCY.. IF you have a functioning autopilot use it as it doesn't know it's in cloud. Do a 180 back out of the cloud.. Smoke can hide cloud also. Some autopilots don't handle turbulence well and can hide bad out of trim conditions which are a problem when/IF they disengage.  Nev

Link to post
Share on other sites

'Meditate' like 'navigate' might need a little interpretation 😉  No yoga mats needed; just a wee pause to tell oneself in measured tones to cool it and "perform actions deliberately and carefully so you don't make errors".  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever works for you.. People used to say sit on your hands for a few minutes. That's not ALWAYS appropriate either. Nev

Link to post
Share on other sites

For us simple day VFR pilots the big test could come in the form of engine loss of thrust. History shows the very simple task of maintaining airspeed and therefore control is not that simple following engine failure.  

  • Agree 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps, but the process is not that complex. As the power stops the nose goes down to compensate. Many approaches are full glide. It's not as if it's a new sensation. A steep gliding turn is possible and utterly safe if the ROD and height loss is  adjusted for. Glides cannot be stretched . An engine failure means you can't go much  further. At say 3,000 ft AGL you have about 3 and a half minutes of air time left but the plane is fully controllable IF you do as you are trained to do. You are certainly better off with power but if it's not looking/sounding good, land rather than push on. . Nev

Link to post
Share on other sites

Errors of judgement aside, I thought he kept his head pretty well. Being IFR trained clearly worked in his favour, and even though he was stressed he wasnt panicking and was able to think fairly clearly despite being well outside his comfort zone. Could have ended much worse.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I went IMC deliberately once and with 2 passengers. I wasn't panicked and just put my head down and said in my mind "believe the instruments" over & over & never tried to look out the windscreen until after climbing around 9000 feet popped out into bright sunshine. It didn't really hit me for a couple of days and when I'd think about it and what could have happened. I made a decision because I had no other choice. I had 1 job and had to see it through. There were no other thoughts & nothing was said during the climb as far as I can remember.

 

In hindsight I don't think I would do anything different if presented with the same situation again.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Unpopular opinion to follow. I found flying in simulated instrument conditions in a C172 to be really easy. It was still easy with the artificial horison and the turn co-ordinator covered. At times I got into an unstable dive-climb oscilation but when the instructor got me to let go of the controls it just stopped - the wings were level the whole time. Having just the artificial horison covered but still being able to see the turn co-ordinator was easiest of all. I was not chasing pitch and the instructor would leave me alone about small deviations. No, I am not saying that it is the same as flying in actual IMC and I am not saying that... etc.. etc. Obviously, this has more to do with the aircraft than with me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You won't be able to fly the real thing without some gyro to aid you. and flying on just the limited panel is quite exhausting in turbulent conditions. You get overwhelming sensory inputs  due to your motion and detected by the semicircular canals in  your middle ear which create illusions of what you are really doing. People think they can always tell where down and up are. Not so when sight is not available. Spin yourself around and close your eyes and try to walk a straight line. Most people who get into cloud unless trained and with the right instruments come tumbling out of the cloud quite quickly. Nev

Edited by facthunter
Link to post
Share on other sites

This really shows the impact of mindset / preparation on flying in IMC, it’s not hard if you’re trained and prepared, but what he is discussing here is the impact of surprise and not being prepared on his mental state. Off he saunters for a vfr leg, ends up in the soup and all of a sudden has no airspeed and things get hairy fast. He’s more lamenting that he backed himself into the corner in the first place.

 

He’s made the right decisions (kill the automation, declare, get a plan to get down and then troubleshoot) and came out unscathed but it shows how quickly your cognitive ability can be overloaded in abnormal situations. What he was a bit hard on himself here was that he instinctively did much of this and flew power and attitude to get performance and didn’t do anything really dumb.

 

to really appreciate this load, talk to your instructor, tell them to slap a hood on you at some random time in some future flight when it’s bumpy, cover the asi and get you to simultaneously change charts, get the grid lsalt, or ask for it, brief the rnav for the nearest airport with an approach, set course and then work out what’s going on. Even this won’t give you an appreciation for real imc as you can still see the queues out of the hood no matter how hard you try not to cheat.
 

One of the harder things to learn when getting your ifr rating is juggling the flying with 2 to 3 other things going on at the same time and keeping a picture in your head if it all. I found for at least 10 hours I could do one or two things well but not everything I needed to. Again some people will probably be faster or better at this but it’s amazing how with time it clicks. Keeping current and sharp is also key, which is why there’s separate requirements on currency for ifr flying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...