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Reading that gave me the creeps. I had an inadvertant IMC incident about a year ago. Scariest thing that ever happened to me in all of my life. During the 106 seconds I was in the soup, the one thing that kept going through my mind was "178 seconds to live" from my ab initio training...

 

I was fortunate to be flying a brand-new Astar equipped with functional AI and DG, and I wasn't in the mountains, so I was able to do a standard rate 180° and backtrack, after about ten seconds of bouncing around trying to get my bearings from the instruments.

 

Since then, whenever I'm flying a machine with working instruments, and the situation permits it, I make a point of doing some 180° turns using the AI and DG. Seeing as we don't do any instrument work in annual training, I figure doing this could potentially save my life (again) sometime in the future...

 

Also interesting to read the discord between the TSB and TC regarding the absence of recurrent instrument training for VFR pilots. I suppose the fact that the majority of VFR helicopters don't have basic instruments would make recurrent training pointless for many, but still...

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Perhaps shed some light on why/how you got stuck in imc? Pilots learn from others and this seems like a good example.

 

Classic human factors:

 

- last day of a long tour, been trying to get out of camp for two days

- marginal weather (300 ft ceiling, ~ ¾ mile vis in snow)

- pilot (me) too focused on passenger pointing things out on the road we were following below

- slowly rising terrain (I had flown this route about ten times a day for the past three weeks and should have known better)

- falling snow made it impossible to identify ceiling

- basically climbed right into the ceiling while looking down at the ground (1-2-3 whiteout !)

 

Basically, I was getting too comfortable flying in limited vis conditions and it bit me. I should have been more focused on flying and not looking at what was going on on the ground (road construction).

 

That incident has profoundly changed how I evaluate wx before every flight. I still have bad dreams about it on occasion.

 

They say what doesn't kill you makes you better, but I never ever again want to learn a lesson the way I did that day...

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RIP the guys in the heli... truly chilling reading

 

And Skidz... Wow... that gives me the chills... And the fact that in your 180 degree turn you were attempting to find your way back to 3/4 mile visibility and a 300 foot ceiling is the scariest thing of all!

 

I personally don't see much benefit in inadvertent IMC training if your working around the mountains... I can't remember who said it but my favourite quote about this is "if you enter cloud in a valley and attempt to fly on instruments a CFIT accident is assured". I do not believe HTAWS or anything else will help with this either. When you're in the rocks you are intimate with the terrain and should be so close to the rocks as to make out the grain... If you get in a cloud at that moment things are not likely to have a good outcome... Please park the machine way before this point!

 

And one thing about CFIT... I think the term is used in appropriately at times because if you enter a cloud and lose control so that you hit the ground inverted or in some other "unusual attitude" this should be considered "Out of Control Flight Into Terrain" or something... CFIT means you're straight and level (or otherwise "under control") and you inadvertently hit the ground because you didn't know it was about to make your acquaintance...

 

HV

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I too had a similar experience to "Skidz" On a ferry flight to our next gig in an L1 around 8 years ago. Two on board, me (low time guy) in the right seat another higher time guy in the left. Thing was no dual controls. It was getting late, it was raining and we were GPS scud running maybe 75 to 100' above trees (ceiling was another 200' above but vis was better where we were). Stupidity (one of them anyway...) was.... the terrain ahead was (as Skidz scenario) rising and we were balls to the wall trying to make skids down before dark. Flew right into the goo! Complete loss of reference...... gone that fast! I got on the intruments ( VFR- but working) and proceeded with a right hard turn with back pressure and ball centered......... interesting thing was I was most concerned with my VSI. If it was indicating up I was in some kind of a climb!?!?..... accuracy delay (didn't care) crossed checked my AI and Altimeter and rolled out on my reciprocalish heading........ finally the trees reappeared. The guy on the left was freaking out the whole time as there was zero he could do. I kept repeating... we're good...we're good......... What did I do next...... slowed down and found somewhere to spend for the night.

 

Lesson learned (for me anyway): when terrain following, pick a max Altitude and stick with it-let the ground come to you not the GOO! and you'll know when to turn around and/or land.

 

This was in flat land not the rocks.......

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Thanks for the related experiences fellas,,,

 

I just finished providing low vis training to a high time vfr pilot and we worked on low weather in mountain pass, ensuring airspeed is low enough and once on the other side of pass to ensure airspeed was kept low to ensure weather on other side good enough to descend. Marking altitude of pass etc. 180' turn was done but not on dials,,,,wasn't any. I don't have answers to any low vis accidents,,,,well no new answers. But it still catches people and guys don't slow down....

 

I read the old Okanagan accident file from 50-60s,,,,lots of Bell 47's crashed into trees for whatever reason and very few were fatal,,,,why,,,,going slow. Some folks(including me) train pilots that when they are at 60 mph the weather is too bad and should look for a place to land and wait it out or go back. So what is the wrong solution,,,don't slow down to less than 60. To be honest I have found myself doing 40 and not for vis or clouds but it just feels better when the weather is crap. Maybe all the birdtowing done at 40 and just feel ok that slow.

 

Keep er safe!

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A friend and I were the first at the scene and immediately thought 'Loss of Visual Reference'.

Tight snow bowl with limited rocks for reference with low cloud on overcast day.

Sad day for everyone at Bailey, my thoughts and condolences go out to all the family and friends again...

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Hello. I was the pilot with kief that day and agree with him. The weather was atrocious and a challenging day for us all. My respect to kief after a difficult hike to the scene and the subsequent discovery of 3 persons . The resulting commendations from the RCC was small comfort but did indeed verify that the WRH crew of Kief and myself made the correct decisions in conjunction

with the SAR crews on that fateful day. The pilot on the day was a close friend of the owner at White River and known well to me .

 

My continued condolences.

 

Andy.

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