August 1999 Issue

Departure Surprises

Even qualified IFR pilots can get in over their heads when the weather tanks

Most pilots know that one of the major causes of fatal accidents in light aircraft is “continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).” But many are surprised that more than one quarter of those accidents involve instrument-rated pilots, according to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. You might think that the idea of an instrument-rated pilot dying in a “VFR into IMC” accident is oxymoronic. Unfortunately, you’d only be half right.

So why is it that pilots who are qualified and current to fly in the goo turn themselves into smoking holes trying to scud-run through less-than-marginal weather? There are several factors at work here, including attitude, lack of foresight,...

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