22 October 2009

Speaking of reckless jackasses...

Yesterday's post involved some reckless driving of HMMWVs and MRAPs. Today, we'll explore some reckless flying, thanks to a video I received from Greg in Mexico.

Basically, two aircraft--a Bonanza and a Russian-made L-39 jet fighter trainer--are doing some formation flying in a mountain range. Then, it happens: they go inadvertent IMC. For the non-aviators out there, this means that they accidentally flew into a cloud bank. IIMC, as it's known, is the cause of many aviation accidents, as the transition from visual meteorological conditions (where a pilot can see outside) to instrument conditions (where a pilot can't see, and must trust the flight instruments) is particularly dangerous. Many pilots become overconfident and attempt to "see and avoid" obstacles even when their vision is severely limited. This is a particularly dangerous scenario for multi-aircraft operations, as all aircraft involved must not only avoid obstacles on the ground, but also each other.

Take a look at this video:

Part of effective pre-flight planning involves the inadvertent IMC plan--what to do if one accidentally punches into the clouds. For multi-aircraft operations in particular, the flight crews know to turn away from one another and climb to safe altitudes, with each aircraft in the formation climbing to a different altitude to avoid colliding with one another. During the preflight briefing, all pilots know what altitude to climb to, so that, in the event of an emergency, the actions are instinctive.

Note that the pilot of this Bonanza simply takes the lazy route and looks at his GPS to keep him away from a mountain ridge, failing to climb to the published minimum safe altitude. He almost dies as a result.

Don't let GPS make you lazy--remember your pre-flight planning from flight school. It might save your life.

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