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MadamBreakneck
20-02-15, 13:31 PM
We all make mistakes. I'owned up to a few in my years of flying. I've also offered condolences to the families of friends and acquaintances who didn't survive theirs.

We've got two threads running on here started by pilots who have survived frightening incidents of being caught above or in cloud. Vince's thread has developed into discussion of technological lifeboats for people caught in that situation. Rather than forking that interesting thread, I thought I'd start a new thread about how we can avoid (or at least predict the probability of) needing the lifeboat.

At the risk of being shot down as a killjoy, could our two cloud pilots have avoided the situation by checking the weather in more detail before the flight? Did they really need to climb into, or fly out over, the cloud layers? We have mobile phones which are capable of voice calls to our destination to get a real human to tell what weather they've got. We have radios which can give ATIS or which we can even use to talk to people at the destination airfield... there's even, as discussed, D&D* who are sitting there, being paid, to help any of us up there who cares to ask. The clue's in the name, Distress and Diversion.

For those amongst us who prefer to remain technologically independent, there are weather apps available.

To start then: there are, of course, all the charts and tables available from the Met Office and available on the interweb. I've also discovered, and have found disconcertingly accurate for my local climate, RASP described in detail here: (http://rasp.inn.leedsmet.ac.uk/DOCS/RASP-Sherwin.pdf)
I've generally found it to be more accurate predictor for my home airfield and its local climate than the more generalised aviation forecasts. Of course it can still be caught out by weather systems travelling at different speeds to the computer model predictions.

We've two threads on what to do if stuck up there. Can we keep this one for help in deciding whether or not to go, please?

Joan

<asks self: do I want to do this?... hit send?... let's try to be helpful to each other... Submit!>

Brand1068
20-02-15, 15:20 PM
I guess the chances of needing help are directly related to your particular tolerance for risk.

Without the trite comments, I'm only newly qualified so at present I want 2,000 cloud base wind down the runway if above 12kts or so, if the weather is questionable, drink coffee - talk bollox.

It seems the more hours you have the more risks you are likely to take until you either a) scare yourself or b) kill yourself - the lucky ones (a) then dial it back a bit and carry on.

Of course pure dumb luck comes in to play ...

Of course I've seen a couple of people so far with few hours who seem to want to fly in almost any condition - then its up to the skill of the instructor to improve there odds..

goldrush
20-02-15, 18:02 PM
I guess the chances of needing help are directly related to your particular tolerance for risk.

Without the trite comments, I'm only newly qualified so at present I want 2,000 cloud base wind down the runway if above 12kts or so, if the weather is questionable, drink coffee - talk bollox.

It seems the more hours you have the more risks you are likely to take until you either a) scare yourself or b) kill yourself - the lucky ones (a) then dial it back a bit and carry on.

Of course pure dumb luck comes in to play ...

Of course I've seen a couple of people so far with few hours who seem to want to fly in almost any condition - then its up to the skill of the instructor to improve there odds..

I would suggest that your comments are pretty accurate and shows a "survival" instinct which is not often present in new pilots.

Certainly I have experienced enough of your para a.. to ensure that I "dial it back a LOT!"

I am by no means a fantastic pilot although I have actually been flying various machines for sixty five years and I shudder to remember the numerous "close shaves" I survived in my earlier, and even Not so early days.... now I try not to put myself in that situation... but with the best will and planning in the world, "Sh1t" happens.

For example, I once got caught out in a sudden heavy SNOW storm whilst on downwind......
landing via the side mounted open "clear vision vent panel" was an "experience".............
and before anyone points out that I should simply have diverted to a nearby airfield.... I was in a sailplane and had little choice but to land:-@9

I also got caught in a sudden sandstorm in Egypt in which the engines (a twin) also said enough......... we do not want to play anymore:-(

It's how you deal with "the unexpected" that matters, and I would venture to say that the more you experience "slowly pushing your own personal limits just a little bit" ...... (always with regard to safe operation) the better you become.
Don't be swayed by the "Gung Ho" crowd.:-)
As an example, those who have been trained on a major airfield, often find a problem trying to land on a "farm strip"....

Katie
20-02-15, 20:16 PM
I manage to do around 250 hours each year with taking unnecessary risks with the weather, I will do circuits down to vis of 5k and 900ft cloud base, but would never set off on a cross county flight in those conditions. I've noticed the biggest risk takers are often those who can only fly at weekends, perhaps when you've been looking forward to going to a fly-in all week then there is a reluctance to just do a local flight instead. But then other weekend flyers are happy to sit it out eating the biscuit in the club house.

Unfortunately some pilots don't listen to warnings but instead seem to need to a near death experience before they wake up and are more careful, sadly for the accident rate not all survive, but the worst thing is that they often take innocent victims with them, often several family members as with the recent Pioneer 400 accident.

Sam
20-02-15, 21:23 PM
I can see your point, but you'll never make any significant tour without pushing it a little !

Katie
20-02-15, 21:39 PM
A fair point Sam. I would be the one who turned back, diverted, or got home 2 day later than everyone else. I got laughed at once for turning back instead of flying over high ground at 500ft in mist and rain, others got though but from their description of the flight I'm very glad I didn't attempt it.

Perhaps some feel a sense of achievement in getting though bad weather?

For me, even if I did get though I would be very unhappy with myself for putting myself in so much danger of being killed. Of course there is a risk in flying anyway, but why times that risk by 10. Or probably much more than 10x the risk of a normal flight, from the always very high percentage of fatals in which IMC is a factor. Maybe 100x the risk?

Paul Dewhurst
20-02-15, 23:20 PM
Its threat and error management. Two pilots can be flying on the same day at the same time on the same route and one can be taking big risks and the other operating with minimal risk. One above cloud with holes small when they went up - fortified with a GPS comfort blanket so they don't need big holes to navigate, at the mercy of small deterioration in the weather, and with minimal other planning or contingency. The other could be scud running below, but with diversions planned, and hopping from good emergency / precautionary landing areas and noting their position for use if a back track becomes necessary. Setting and monitoring a minima, and well planned and only undertaking the trip if forecast and actuals indicate that it will remain above minima.

Its about awareness and planning. Not being a pansy - but being a pilot!

Its always about having some reserve. We build skills reserve by active practice of handling - challenging ourselves to be able to fly a fluent max bank angle turn, fly in turbulence, fly in crosswinds, practice lots of slow flight and stalls, PFL,s, different types of takeoff and landing etc . Step by step increasing those skills, for the day they might be called upon. But hand in hand must go the thinking - analysis and planning. And constant recalibration of what constitutes acceptable risk thresholds. Baby steps of constant boundary exploration - trying to avoid giant leaps into 'oh **** land'..!

part of it is to share with others when we do and try to learn from other people's mistakes rather than have to learn them all from our own experiences - which we are unlikely to fully complete the set of!

Paul

Unregistered
20-02-15, 23:52 PM
Katie,
The Pioneer 400 was a very tragic accident and whilst it has deprived a young child of both his parents I don't think his father thought " Ah sod it, lets go and play Russian Roulette today "
That Pioneer 400 had a very well equipped instrument panel and under normal circumstances the aircraft was a Go Places Aircraft.

So far all the comments emulating from the folk who express an opinion on almost every accident are all conjecture.
I am inclined to think that the pilot was faced with worsening weather and was attempting to get into Popham to safeguard his family and not continue onto his destination in worsening conditions.

Until the AAIB Report is published the best course of action is to keep an open mind on what happened. It serves no purpose to draw conclusions from rumours.

With the recent discussions about being caught out in Cloud or Bad Weather, we are all lucky that the people involved are still around to discuss their scares instead of us all drawing conclusions on what we think happened.

Until you have been the subject of any AAIB Report it is not that pleasant to have conjecture thrust upon what others think happened, but it is still better to be around to defend the conjecture than it is to have been judged on first impressions having died.

Unregistered
21-02-15, 00:36 AM
I can see your point, but you'll never make any significant tour without pushing it a little !

With respect, that's a typical example of the flawed thinking that's behind many of the posts in this and the other thread. Microlight aircraft are not and never will be a reliable form of transport for getting from A to B. If you want to do that in an aircraft you will require at minimum a Group A aircraft with a full instrument fit and an IR. And if you are serious you'll need a twin. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

LeeMc
21-02-15, 00:57 AM
Well I think Paul sums it up really. Sadly in any activity with risk there are accidents I hope to train to know when I might be entering something beyond me and if I miss it how to try and keep my kids in the back as safe as able. AAIB reports are depressing reading but help all.

I recently heard a presentation by the chap who flew to Oskosh. Never in a million years for me but he thought his machine was able and it was. Isnt it all really about personal honesty in your abilities?

Frank Thorne
21-02-15, 01:28 AM
With respect, that's a typical example of the flawed thinking that's behind many of the posts in this and the other thread. Microlight aircraft are not and never will be a reliable form of transport for getting from A to B. If you want to do that in an aircraft you will require at minimum a Group A aircraft with a full instrument fit and an IR. And if you are serious you'll need a twin. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

With respect its a serious error of judgement to assume that a higher level of equipment fit makes a group A aircraft a reliable form of transport. If you want to get from A to B ontime then take British airways ..... and even then you might achieve only 95% success.

In our form of recreational flying if your going from A to B then you will get there..... but you cant always predict exactly when. The point is if your Ok with that and conduct your flights accordingly then you dont have a problem. In the world that we live where our lives are controlled by time its a difficult habit to break. On our last tour of France I was asked by she who must be obeyed when would I be back, to which, after a considered risk assessment, I replied "I dont know" - try explaining that one.

thearb
21-02-15, 09:29 AM
Katie,
The Pioneer 400 was a very tragic accident and whilst it has deprived a young child of both his parents I don't think his father thought " Ah sod it, lets go and play Russian Roulette today "
That Pioneer 400 had a very well equipped instrument panel and under normal circumstances the aircraft was a Go Places Aircraft.



And that is the whole point. The report on this accident should be mandatory reading for every pilot reading this thread. This is the aircraft involved.

http://forums.flyer.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=81807

A well equipped LAA permit aircraft with an AI. An experienced pilot, a degree in electronic engineering, paramotorer, paraglider, successful businessman who built his previous Pioneer was killed along with his wife and his son only just survived. If it can happen to him it can happen to any of us, regardless of how well equipped the aircraft is or how well experienced we think we are.

John S
21-02-15, 11:11 AM
Isnt it all really about personal honesty in your abilities?

Makes perfect sense to me. If you're not confident you have the ability to handle particular weather situations - don't attempt it!

Keveng
21-02-15, 12:20 PM
I may have posted this one before but think its pertinent to the discussion. its worth a read
http://www.caa.co.za/Accidents%20and%20Incidents%20Reports/9281.pdf

Keven

Flyingboy
21-02-15, 14:15 PM
We all make mistakes. I'owned up to a few in my years of flying. I've also offered condolences to the families of friends and acquaintances who didn't survive theirs.

We've got two threads running on here started by pilots who have survived frightening incidents of being caught above or in cloud. Vince's thread has developed into discussion of technological lifeboats for people caught in that situation. Rather than forking that interesting thread, I thought I'd start a new thread about how we can avoid (or at least predict the probability of) needing the lifeboat.


We've two threads on what to do if stuck up there. Can we keep this one for help in deciding
Joan

<asks self: do I want to do this?... hit send?... let's try to be helpful to each other... Submit!>

Joan, I have to say I was very much aware of the weather forecasts and actuals of my route.
I had planned to depart early, but was still on the ground at 11am.
I was watching (from the clubhouse), the past weather radar merging into current weather and predicted weather with lots of squally showers.
Also, I was trying to decide if east or west coast would be best.
A call from a friend at Aberdeen tower made me decide on West.

So I did have access to all that weather info, and I thought I was using the latest weather rainfall radar info...
However, when I got out of the situation and checked my phone, the actual radar details hadn't updated since before my departure.

To show the conditions that I was flying in and to gauge how others may have decide, the following image shows the weather looking south west from the Ardrossan as I coasted out into the Clyde. I am flying North west, not towards this, but ultimately it's what catches me up.

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3855/15101848889_61ae68164d_b.jpg (http://flic.kr/p/p1uVwZ)Faroe Islands by Microlight Strathaven to Stornoway 201420140602_0511 by -flyingboy101- (http://flic.kr/p/p1uVwZ)

A small boat and a RN sea king is seen practising winching exercises.
(I remember thinking... Ha, that's handy, ...hope it's not an omen.).

To add to help find a solution, I now find myself using weather undergrounds web cam feature a lot now.
Seeing the actual conditions before setting off is far better...

Unregistered
21-02-15, 15:00 PM
With respect, that's a typical example of the flawed thinking that's behind many of the posts in this athemselveser thread. Microlight aircraft are not and never will be a reliable form of transport for getting from A to B. If you want to do that in an aircraft you will require at minimum a Group A aircraft with a full instrument fit and an IR. And if you are serious you'll need a twin. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

OK lets look at your reply in greater detail...
Amongst us we have some either very adventurous or very inept microlight pilots, some are adventurous in that they want to achieve something and some are very inept in wanting to achieve the impossible, I will not categorize each person as it is best to leave that to your own judgement.

Colin Bodill wanted to fly around the World in a Mainair Blade......Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
Brian Milton wanted to fly around the World in a Mainair Blade......Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
Brian Milton wanted to cross the Atlantic Non Stop.....Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
Martin Bromage wanted to fly from Gloucester Staverton to Sydney Australia in a P&M Quik........ Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
Richard Meredith Hardy wanted to fly over Everest in a P&M Quik........Was he Adventurous or Inept?
Richard Meredith Hardy wanted to fly to Sydney in a P&M Quik......Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
Dave Sykes wanted to fly from Rufforth to Sydney Australia in a P&M Quik..... Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
John Hilton wanted to fly to Canada and back in a CTSW.....Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
Eddie McCallum wanted to fly to Oshkosh and back in his CTSW.....Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
Dave Sykes wants to fly to the North Pole......Is he being Adventurous or Inept ?
The Fly for Freedom Team want to fly to the South Pole...... Are they being Adventurous or Inept ?

There are quite a few more examples I could add to the list but by now I am sure you can see that quite a few microlight pilots have either been very Adventurous or very inept in trying to achieve a goal.

For the benefit of all readers none of those aforementioned pilots held any form of Instrument Rating at the time of attempting their challenge.
Does this mean that they are all extremely daft or does it mean they calculated the risks and stuck to a game plan throughout the challenges that fsced them ?

I believe that the above achievements show that in the right hands any microlight can be used for ' Going Places '
I am not saying I think anyone could achieve these challenges, but equally I don't believe that any GA Pilot could achieve these challenges in a Superbly equipped Aircraft either.

It is more about the person who is flying than it is about the actual aircraft, sure the extra toys help you keep safe but when you consider that a GPS III Pilot got Dave Sykes to Sydney it isn't necessarily about the toys that achieve the goal.

I consider myself in the Adventurous category but I wouldn't have the balls to try any of those challenges that were achieved by flexwings, I would also need to have a very serious think about whether I would even consider the Atlantic in a CTSW.

I am an avid follower of anyone adventurous enough to take on these challenges and from what I have read in Reports by the flyers themselves I think the reports could have been a totally different outcome if different pilots were in the hot seat.

Sam
21-02-15, 16:01 PM
With respect, that's a typical example of the flawed thinking that's behind many of the posts in this and the other thread. Microlight aircraft are not and never will be a reliable form of transport for getting from A to B. If you want to do that in an aircraft you will require at minimum a Group A aircraft with a full instrument fit and an IR. And if you are serious you'll need a twin. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

I'm not sure I like this ability to post as an unregistered user, I'm never quite sure whether to associate any weight to a reply.

But in this instance sir, I give no weight, your either trolling or a newbie ! A little bit of knowledge is dangerous.

I am by no means suggesting flying in full IMC conditions, but tentatively pushing and exploring the boundaries safely I'm right up for. Now the problem lies where individuals define safely. I have my criteria which I believe is safe and on occasions I believe I have pushed it too far and reigned it in. I've sat at Le Touquet for two days weighting to get back whilst one half wit left and scrapped into Headcorn. Taking this approach for me has seen many a reliable trip from A to B in a microlight.

I expect your safely Mr Unregistered is when your instructor says its so !

Sam Baerstard
21-02-15, 16:44 PM
I think its helpful to encourage people to tell the truth about there risks etc,. But equally important to qualify whats been said. Some instructors (Kate?) might do hundreds of hour's but if they are nearly all in the circiut what real experience is that?

Sam Baerstard

Terry Viner
21-02-15, 17:40 PM
I can see your point, but you'll never make any significant tour without pushing it a little !

Says the man who finished up in a ditch.

LOL

TV

VinceG
21-02-15, 18:01 PM
Perhaps it would be a fairer system if it allowed those who wanted to post about a personal incident to remain anonymous and unregistered, but not to extend that convenience to the people commenting on others misfortunes.
Appreciate this would be an extra moderation workload though.

Too much for me!

woodysr2
21-02-15, 18:06 PM
I am just back home from the airfield was intending to go out for an hour or two but ended up fettling the carbs and a tidy up in the hangar.
Why because although the wind was only 15 degrees off the runway the clouds to the south and north were telling a completely different story and looked like we would be in for a rough flight and the sudden snow squalls coming from nowhere, one of the joys of being at 900 feet amsl and in the hills.
Could I have flown yes would I have liked it probably not, would it have been safe yes I do think there are a lot of people out here who never fly anymore than 15 miles away from their home strip It takes me that long to get out of the hills. So as Sam says depending on your experience and location what is a major experience for some can be completely normal for others.
I dont think I have had a rotor free landing in nearly 8 months and all the way down to about 15 to 20 feet off the runway and as Michael has said the weather up here can change from clear to OH SH!T very quickly.
I have a couple of pilot friends who have said they would not fly into our field and they have been flying for at least 20 plus years does that make me foolhardy them woose's?

Sam
21-02-15, 18:18 PM
Says the man who finished up in a ditch.

LOL

TV

Yes I do, and I've learnt from it and not once have I made excuses for my own incompetence !

And I'll continue to crack on in the same vain !

MadamBreakneck
21-02-15, 18:50 PM
...Was he Adventurous or Inept ?
....Was he Adventurous or Inept ?


You are setting up a false dichotomy on which to base your argument. The situation is more nuanced than that. People like the ones you quote generally understand the risks and do what they can to mitigate them to a level they are prepared to accept. I was prompted to start this thread to seek help for ordinary club pilots who want to avoid getting caught out by weather they hadn't expected.

Can we stick to methods and techniques, not morals or willie-waving, please.

Terry Viner
22-02-15, 00:17 AM
Yes I do, and I've learnt from it and not once have I made excuses for my own incompetence !

And I'll continue to crack on in the same vain !

Got o admit Sam Ive learnt from it to, I saw your plane at P&M and decided to stay out of Ditches as well.

T

renmure
22-02-15, 00:27 AM
Haha.. Terry, that is the most (intentionally) funny thing you have said :)

MadamBreakneck
22-02-15, 12:28 PM
Flyingboy wrote http://www.microlightforum.com/showthread.php?10897-Working-out-the-probability-of-needing-rescue&p=105608&viewfull=1#post105608

Trying to bring the thread back off the Sofa: Thanks for the constructive comments and the lesson learnt. Very much in the spirit of what I tried to start this thread for is your remark that you now use the webcam network more extensively. That's a good idea to add to the pot.

Another set of web cams I've used it the Highways Agency traffic network at trafficengland.com (http://www.trafficengland.com/map.aspx?long0=-403.4613960041688&lat0=3276.6173111324606&long1=173.3223076995351&lat1=3027.4688365561897&navbar=true)*, eg this one (http://www.trafficengland.com/trafficcamera.aspx?cameraUri=http://public.hanet.org.uk/cctvpublicaccess/html/56274.html) looking towards North Weald. The cameras can be selected via 'current Information' selection panel. OK quite a few are 'unavailable' and others are looking downwards, but many do show the sky and give a clue to visibility.

Another guideline which I got out of Brian Cosgrove's book which is applicable to bimbling at least if not, perhaps, for adventure flying, is to fly out towards an incoming weather system which allows you to scuttle back to base ahead of it.

Joan

* I think trafficscotland.com might have similar.