October 2000 Issue

Jersey Inferno

Instrument failure in IMC leads to loss of control and a fiery finish on the streets below

Confidence is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, confidence eliminates the uncertainties that make decisions harder. On the other, confidence can lead you into believing bad things only happen to other people.

Sometimes, bad things happen to skilled people. Confidence can be a magic cloak that wards off disaster, but it can also be an inviting smell that brings misfortune in for a closer look.

On a relatively balmy November morning last year, a pilot and two members of his family said goodbye to a fourth family member. It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the family had been together for the holiday.

The pilot had flown his 1964 Bonanza S35 from his home in Bethesda, Md.,...

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