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Your biggest ever mistake

My biggest ever mistake was to fly with a Touring Motorglider to a German Frisian Island (Juist, EDWJ) yesterday.
All was fine till the sea fog rolled in.

The forecast for the today showed a temp/dew point temp of about 5 degrees, so we decided to spend the night on the island and leave the next morning. Not a big deal. Shouldn’t be a problem to depart VFR, right?

Today, with CAVOK conditions at our destination, we were facing 0600 FG BKN001 for the whole day :-(
The TMG has an unreliable AI and no TC. So frustrating being Instrument Rated but stuck with a uncertified aircraft..
A 20sec climb would bring you in VMC on top…

Tomorrow the conditions won’t get better, so we will get home with the ferry which runs once per day.
It will take about 7 hours to get back home by public transport… Flying will take less than an hour…

Last Edited by lenthamen at 31 Mar 17:56

A certified aircraft wouldn’t help you since – legally spaeking – you would still need to depart VFR. Depending on the Flugleiter on duty, he might close an eye or not.

Are you sure it won’t open up a little tomorrow? Forecasts suggest so.

If not, see the positive side… quite a few fellows seem to share your fate. Sounds like a good party tonight!

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

We had a nice evening with some German pilots who were also stuck on the island.
The weather for today turned out to be better then expected. After spending two unplanned nights on the islands, we flew back home in marginal VFR conditions..

I have now seen how unpredictable sea fog is. It can catch you by surprise. And very persistent too: The guy in the tower told us that they once couldn’t fly for a single week because of sea fog…

On a list of things likely to kill you, forgetting takeoff flaps in an aircraft that requires them is pretty high. It has killed lots of professional crews despite takeoff config warnings and so on.

My worst mistake was setting the wrong QNH in IMC on transition. 1015 instead of 1005. I was flying a GPS approach without vertical guidance. The 4 reds on becoming visual scared the living daylights out of me. I gave myself a severe talking to after that one. I had about 300h and about 40h SPIFR at the time and was getting a bit complacent.

London area

My worst mistake was setting the wrong QNH in IMC on transition. 1015 instead of 1005. I was flying a GPS approach without vertical guidance.

Following a congested static port, I started flying non precision approaches with the GPS altitude. The Garmin 695 allows me to display it prominently. Both GPS altitude and baro altitude are constantly being compared and the lower of the two counts. The GPS altitude is extremely accurate.

Yesterday due to inattention retuned COM1 and standby freq but had been using COM1 as my active which is not my usual practice enroute. Was at FL280 in controlled airspace obviously and inbound and talking to London Control. Lost the old frequency.

Clearly a stupid mistake. So interesting quiz – what would you do?

Last Edited by JasonC at 03 Apr 20:09
EGTK Oxford

Squawk 7600 and own up on 121.5?

I’ve done this myself (mistunung), although I was in good weather talking to farnborough at the time, so figuring out the correct freq wasn’t difficult.

The GTN has a recently used frequency list. Seems like a useful get out of jail function.


well didn’t change the squawk as I was very quick but yes, 121.5.

EGTK Oxford

So interesting quiz – what would you do?

I write down all frequencies before selecting them.

Can’t beat a kneeboard with paper on it

You must write down all clearances anyway, taxi and in-flight, and their number is comparable to the number of frequency changes. IMHO one should not fly a plane without a capability to write down all this stuff, anyway, and the capability needs to be very quick and very reliable, so I use a clutch pencil. I believe some people have played with tablets which can capture handwriting; I would never do that in case it packs up or crashes.

Last Edited by Peter at 03 Apr 21:24
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I don’t write down frequencies but do write initial clearances on the iPad screen. I don’t write every ALT change on paper.

EGTK Oxford
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