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Be careful on those ferry flights this winter. IIMC is just a brain fart away!

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El Nino's comming, so be safe, and remember;



Inadvertent,…there’s that first word often overlooked during discussions of IIMC.


in·ad·ver·tent [ìnnəd vúrt'nt]

adj

1. resulting from carelessness: done unintentionally or without thinking

2. careless: failing to pay enough attention or take enough care



Trying to prepare for an IIMC encounter is like trying to plan what you’ll do during Saturday night’s drinking binge! Sure you can prepare for an engine failure, or a chip light suddenly coming on, those things just “happen”. IIMC on the other hand does not! It occurs because you suddenly turned off your brain and started flying stupidly!


You have two choices at the first sign of deteriorating weather, COMMIT TO IFR, or LAND NOW! Once you ignore both those choices it’s too late and your fate is now in the hands of random chance. If you do make it out in one piece consider yourself to be extremely lucky, because you just survived what kills a lot of pilots!


“Both pilots were instrument rated”,…such a common quote in accident reports.


Remember, you got into this mess because you were, “failing to pay enough attention and/or not thinking”. “I’ll just look at the artificial horizon and make a 180 to get clear”, or “I’ll just execute a steady climb to get on top of it.” These are rational thoughts. Do you really believe that rational thought will follow the irrational thinking that suddenly turned the windscreen white?


Don’t kid yourself, you cannot prepare for IIMC. You can only prepare for what to do before it occurs, and even then, you still have to listen to what you learned!


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I disagree with about three fourths of what you posted.

Inadvertent IMC isn't always due to "failing to pay enough attention and/or not thinking".

It also doesn't always result from "turning your brain off and flying stupidly".

 

If you're on a long cross country, over inhospitable terrain, miles from no where and without the possibility of landing, things sometime happen that foil the best of planning. Try a long flight over the Adirondacks and tell me how "stupid" you are when you run into dimishing visual conditions and low ceilings {while the nearest ATIS (50 miles away) reports clear skies} with nothing under you but trees and steep terrain.

 

I agree sometimes pilots do foolish things, but I also know at times inadvertent IMC isn't what you characterize. Read #2 definition shown below...

 

Merriam-Webster

Full Definition of INADVERTENT

 

1

: not focusing the mind on a matter : inattentive

2

: unintentional <an inadvertent omission>

— in·ad·ver·tent·ly adverb

 

I've gone IIMC and thank God I live today. But I wasn't being stupid or careless or not paying attention.

Sometimes events unfold without warning.

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The only preparation for IIMC is avoidance. If you properly train to avoid IIMC, you’ll probably never have a problem. Moreover, if you are not flying for compensation or hire, your IIMC avoidance training is probably lacking. Therefore, if I was you, and deteriorating weather is forecasted, I wouldn’t go at all. No reason to. Right?

 

Additionally, IIMC is not a matter of preparation. If anyone suggests pilots prepare for IIMC, then they must be IFR certified while operating an IFR certified machine or at minimum, a machine with IFR instruments. If you are a VFR operator and encounter IIMC conditions, then you must execute IMC EP techniques. No question. Either you are, or are not, in IMC….

 

Specifically, I go IIMC approximately 7 times annually, day and night, albeit in AIRBUSs AS350 level B sim at the IIMC training course. I can attest, even though I know I’m going IIMC, during the first scenario, aircraft control is difficult and, it's the same initial difficulty for the past 3 years. Mind you, the most important part of the training is not in the sim. I call that part “Survival Training”. The important part is; how to AVOID IMC. Avoidance is the key. An R22 or R44 pilot with no training? Do your family a favor. Don’t go……

 

Furthermore, if any pilot finds themselves over inhospitable terrain and deteriorating weather, the accident report will read, pilot error… And, the error is, failure to adequately forecast weather conditions……..

Edited by Spike
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The reason I posted this in the Ferry Flight/Time Building Forum instead of the General Forum is that this post is simply a PSA from one time building ferry pilot to others. It was not my intent to offend any pilots of IFR helicopters.

 

Although I don't understand how you can "know" you're going IIMC? It has been my understanding that you get into IIMC because you are trying to stay in VMC when you should just go IFR?

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Although I don't understand how you can "know" you're going IIMC? It has been my understanding that you get into IIMC because you are trying to stay in VMC when you should just go IFR?

 

When you operate IFR, you plan for the flight. IIMC is when you are flying VFR and lose your visual reference. When this happens, is becomes an emergency. Therefore, wise pilots will do whatever they can to avoid an emergency. For avoiding IIMC, it’s recognizing when to land, or just not go. An example would be; having weather minimums set for yourself that is in excess of VFR. Or, deteriorating MVFR, especially for any flight not operated for compensation or hire.

 

It’s not the weather that kills you. It’s not your decision making either. In the end, it’s your ego that ultimately does you in….

 

Think of it this way, if you had to, could you avoid flying in the dark?

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The statement is kind-of vague…. Normal cruise as in what exactly?

 

In the 350 sim, I was taught to establish 90kts if I encountered IIMC…. Plus, if you inadvertently climbed into an overcast layer, why not descend back out of it? Again, in the sim, this is exactly what I got to practice….

 

Additionally, something else I learned, using airspeed ala pitch changes to control altitude rather than maintaining a particular airspeed and using the collective to climb or descend. If I did, I had to deal with yaw changes as well, which increased my workload and sometimes led to fixation.

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The point is that if you find yourself slowing down or descending because you see deteriorating weather in front of you, you are making the most critical mistake that leads to IIMC, trying to stay VFR.

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if you inadvertently climbed into an overcast layer, why not descend back out of it?

 

Because you were climbing to stay clear of rising terrain, or power lines, or buildings, etc...!

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Overcast layer as in at altitude. Not as a fog layer near the ground. I assumed this went without saying but apparently not........ If anyone routinely flys around in bad weather near the ground is asking for it..... But again, I thought this went without saying......

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I've gone IIMC and thank God I live today. But I wasn't being stupid or careless or not paying attention.

Sometimes events unfold without warning.

 

Ditto. My IIMC wasn't forecast or reported even though we were in Class B airspace in the middle of the day. That may or may not be the norm in IIMC encounters, but I've learned not to put much trust in weather briefers - specially those who aren't in the local area.

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The statement is kind-of vague…. Normal cruise as in what exactly?

 

In the 350 sim, I was taught to establish 90kts if I encountered IIMC…. Plus, if you inadvertently climbed into an overcast layer, why not descend back out of it? Again, in the sim, this is exactly what I got to practice….

 

Additionally, something else I learned, using airspeed ala pitch changes to control altitude rather than maintaining a particular airspeed and using the collective to climb or descend. If I did, I had to deal with yaw changes as well, which increased my workload and sometimes led to fixation.

 

"Never slow from normal cruise or descend en route unless you're landing."

If you are en route VFR and the weather becomes "iffy", a first reaction is to slow down and decrease the rate of closure, giving you more time to evaluate and react. The next inclination is to descend to establish/increase visual reference and orientation. Down can be fatal, that's where the hard stuff is.

I cruise higher than a lot of helo pilots, often 5 or 6 thousand AGL, so I'm not saying I'd perform a precautionary if I left a high cruise. But I would be considering what's happening very carefully. If I came down to a 1000 agl or whatever, and I became uncomfortable pulling max cruise, that's my signal to head for the best place to wait it out. Company minimums are an absolute MINIMUM of acceptable weather, I'm not paid to work any harder than that.

Down is deadly.

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If you are "at altitude" and there is an overcast layer above you, why are you climbing?

 

I’m not climbing. I’m orbiting over a scene just below a layer at night. I’m there because it’s my job to be there. The layer is jagged and boom, I in the soup….. Or, when flying at night on goggles and due to the parallax view, boom, I punch into the layer…. Both instants, if I descend from 800 ft to 600 ft, I’m out….

 

Again, its survival and you do what you got to do in order to survive… Additionally, knowing the local weather is critical. Me, I must deal with a marine layer 90% of the time and thus why I train for that scenario…..

 

Ferry fliers, or joy riders shouldn’t need to worry about it simply because they, more-then-likely, won’t be on goggles, at night, beneath a low overcast marine layer…. You’ll be at home….

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"Never slow from normal cruise or descend en route unless you're landing."

If you are en route VFR and the weather becomes "iffy", a first reaction is to slow down and decrease the rate of closure, giving you more time to evaluate and react. The next inclination is to descend to establish/increase visual reference and orientation. Down can be fatal, that's where the hard stuff is.

I cruise higher than a lot of helo pilots, often 5 or 6 thousand AGL, so I'm not saying I'd perform a precautionary if I left a high cruise. But I would be considering what's happening very carefully. If I came down to a 1000 agl or whatever, and I became uncomfortable pulling max cruise, that's my signal to head for the best place to wait it out. Company minimums are an absolute MINIMUM of acceptable weather, I'm not paid to work any harder than that.

Down is deadly.

 

Understood… I’m rarely above 1500 and, in a fishbowl (meaning; flying the same general location day-in-and-day-out). Plus, I would question why a R22 or R44 pilot, on a ferry flight (or joy ride) would be at altitude (above 2000 ft) pushing into marginal WX……

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I have heard many stories from too many pilots about being very close to the deck essentially scud-running to stay VFR while on a ferry flight. I've also read many accident reports of pilots crashing while doing the same! I myself had a run in with IIMC scud-running on a ferry flight! That's why I started this thread (the ferry flight I almost got myself killed on was found in this sub-forum).

 

So again, if you are not considering one of these ferry flight offers, or are a pilot who flies in the same area all the time in an IFR ship, or while wearing NVGs and thus are best buddies with IIMC, don't be offended by what I write here. Its not directed at you!

 

To all you time builders out there considering one of these ferry flight offers; don't slow down, don't go lower, and don't be afraid to just tell that guy next to you (who's R44 this most likely is) lets wait for the weather to get better!

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So again, if you are not considering one of these ferry flight offers, or are a pilot who flies in the same area all the time in an IFR ship, or while wearing NVGs and thus are best buddies with IIMC, don't be offended by what I write here. Its not directed at you!

 

To all you time builders out there considering one of these ferry flight offers; don't slow down, don't go lower, and don't be afraid to just tell that guy next to you (who's R44 this most likely is) lets wait for the weather to get better!

 

So, what I’m reading is; by your experience you suggest to ignore the advice and story from experienced folks and simply listen to you, a ferry flyer, that almost bought it in IIMC, and if ferrying a R44 you’d say “don't slow down, don't go lower”? IMO, you’re not listening. A “time builder” in an R44 in true IIMC has a miniscule chance of survival. Period....Furthermore, I’m not ashamed to say, as an 9K hour helicopter pilot who is IFR certified and multiple annual IIMC courses under my belt, I wouldn’t last 178 seconds in an R44 in IIMC…. If that’s not a warning to you and others, God help you…..

Edited by Spike

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... IMO, you’re not listening. A “time builder” in an R44 in true IIMC has a miniscule chance of survival. Period...

 

You are not listening to me either, since this is what I have been saying also!

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So, what I’m reading is; by your experience you suggest to ignore the advice and story from experienced folks and simply listen to you, a ferry flyer, that almost bought it in IIMC, and if ferrying a R44 you’d say “don't slow down, don't go lower”? .

 

We don't have the equipment you do! We don't get to practice IIMC recovery in the SIM as you do! So YES, IF YOU'RE ON A FERRY FLIGHT AND SEE DETERIORATING WEATHER IN FRONT OF YOU, DON'T SLOW DOWN! DON'T GO LOWER! BECAUSE IT MEANS YOU ARE TRYING TO STAY VFR! WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID!

 

IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE ADVICE I'M GIVING TO OTHERS WHO MIGHT END UP IN THE SAME SITUATION THAT I WAS IN THEN JUST PISS OFF!!!

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We don't have the equipment you do! We don't get to practice IIMC recovery in the SIM as you do! So YES, IF YOU'RE ON A FERRY FLIGHT AND SEE DETERIORATING WEATHER IN FRONT OF YOU, DON'T SLOW DOWN! DON'T GO LOWER! BECAUSE IT MEANS YOU ARE TRYING TO STAY VFR! WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID!

 

IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE ADVICE I'M GIVING TO OTHERS WHO MIGHT END UP IN THE SAME SITUATION THAT I WAS IN THEN JUST PISS OFF!!!

 

Nice reply…..

 

I didn’t always have the equipment and training that I do now and I've seen all kinds of weather. And, just because you survived, it doesn’t necessarily mean someone else would under the same conditions. That is, every scenario is different and in an IIMC emergency, ya gotta do what you gotta do to survive. In my experience, as the situation and conditions determine, descending a few hundred feet, while well above obstacles and obstructions, may be the only maneuver that could save your life…. Either way, you continue to believe what you want to believe… I'll go ahead and stay alive....

 

Have a great day….

Edited by Spike

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I have heard many stories from too many pilots about being very close to the deck essentially scud-running to stay VFR while on a ferry flight. I've also read many accident reports of pilots crashing while doing the same! I myself had a run in with IIMC scud-running on a ferry flight! That's why I started this thread (the ferry flight I almost got myself killed on was found in this sub-forum).

 

So again, if you are not considering one of these ferry flight offers, or are a pilot who flies in the same area all the time in an IFR ship, or while wearing NVGs and thus are best buddies with IIMC, don't be offended by what I write here. Its not directed at you!

 

To all you time builders out there considering one of these ferry flight offers; don't slow down, don't go lower, and don't be afraid to just tell that guy next to you (who's R44 this most likely is) lets wait for the weather to get better!

Fortunate,

 

Here is a better than PISS OFF reply.

 

Read and understand the USHST Safety Bulletin.

 

http://www.ihst.org/portals/54/insights/Training_IIMC.pdf

 

Know how to use En route Decision Points (EDPs).

 

Apply industry Best Practices.

 

 

How to Avoid IIMC

Get a good forecast for departure, enroute, and arrival.

Avoid flight in Marginal VFR (MVFR).

Check weather ahead of you enroute,

use ATC & Flight Watch.

Use planned Enroute Decision Points

(EDP)s.

Recognize signs

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We don't have the equipment you do! We don't get to practice IIMC recovery in the SIM as you do! So YES, IF YOU'RE ON A FERRY FLIGHT AND SEE DETERIORATING WEATHER IN FRONT OF YOU, DON'T SLOW DOWN! DON'T GO LOWER! BECAUSE IT MEANS YOU ARE TRYING TO STAY VFR! WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID!

 

IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE ADVICE I'M GIVING TO OTHERS WHO MIGHT END UP IN THE SAME SITUATION THAT I WAS IN THEN JUST PISS OFF!!!

 

Got a map? Use it to pick a route with frequent, survivable and comfortable options that you would use. Add a little flight time and add a lot of lifetime.

Do not go slower and do not go lower than customary cruise unless you're landing. If you're IFR capable, the rule is magnitudes more applicable. Works from whiskey compass only, up through full autopilot.

Worked for me since 1968.

Edited by Wally

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Great points Mike and Wally.

 

For me, it’s amazing how people rationalize.. That is, “don’t make the mistake I did”…. And, the mistake isn’t descending or slowing down. The initial mistake is taking off. The next mistake is not landing 30 seconds ago…. The last mistake is losing sight of the ground….. Strike 3……

 

For the audience in question, if weather is marginal, don’t go. End of story...

Edited by Spike
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Add a little flight time and add a lot of lifetime.

That's a great quote, Wally. Suitable for many different scenarios.

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Whenever the talk on the forums turns to people asking about doing a fixed wing private and then adding on helicopter it seems to devolve pretty quickly into a pissing match about who thinks they know better. A perspective I would like to add is - since I am a Private Airplane pilot along with Commercial Helicopter - Instrument - I've spent the last month punching holes in clouds in a little Cessna 150. For someone who's never been PIC of an aircraft in actual IMC I think it is an experience you are missing out on. Plenty of IFR rated and capable airplanes out there for reasonable price (I'm paying $55 dry for the 150) where as that option doesn't readily exist in helicopters. Long story short, airplane experience is overly downplayed on this forum, IMHO.

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