In case you aren’t familiar with VMC Club it is a monthly gathering of individuals who discuss a VFR flying scenario presented by a discussion coordinator. VMC Club is an EAA function developed as an off-shoot of the International IMC Club which merged with EAA a few years ago. Both gatherings are conducted conducted in the same format. Consider it semi-directed hangar flying.
Our EAA Chapter’s VMC Club coordinator is in the middle of moving into a newly constructed home, which is enough stress without trying to prepare a public presentation. Add to that the current challenges EAA is having with their website server migration causing the inability for both VMC and IMC Club coordinators to reach the database of discussion scenarios.
I had, just in case, put together a short VFR flying/Sectional Chart quiz and found an AOPA Safety Foundation video that would work for a discussion so I stepped in and conducted the meeting.
The night’s discussion got me to thinking about these scenarios in general. Most of the time we sit there watching things unfold and asking ourselves “What in the world was he/she thinking?”
I see the same thing with the IMC Club meetings that I conduct. About 80% of the time our solution to the scenario would have been to do a 180 degree turn in the driveway and not even go to the airport.
The scenario last night started out with a light twin taking off 300 lbs over gross with a c.g. aft of the allowable limit – after being questioned by an unrelated pilot who had been watching the loading process. The flight went downhill from there with a VFR pilot who seemed to intentionally keep flying toward and then into IMC conditions on a 5-hour leg with 3 1/2 hours of fuel. Yes, all 5 people on the plane died as a result.
Can we be so blind to our actions that we don’t see what is so plainly visible to everyone around us? The FAA talks about hazardous pilot attitudes in its Aviation Instructor’s Handbook such as Macho, Invulnerability and Anti-Authority. They were all totally obvious at one point or another in this particular scenario. We all saw it.
Continuous training is a natural part of being a pilot, and it can be fun as well as challenging
But that is the rub, isn’t it. Those of us who attend these events to keep ourselves informed and actively engaged in aviation are the ones who can see the events unfolding. We’re the ones who are the most confused about the individual’s continued course of action when obvious alternatives were available.
We could probably almost zero-out the accident rate if we could get these individuals to engage in some sort of formal or semi-formal continuing education. The perpetual challenge of the FAA Safety Team.
But then you look at our driving record with roughly 100 fatalities from driving accidents every single day in this country and you see what we as human beings are willing to accept.