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VFR Pilots - flight into cloud.

The one single task of keeping the butter-side up should work well for most VFR pilots entering IMC.

I think it is when they have to manage other tasks in addition to flying that they are challenged.

Tasks like trying to find out where one is, tuning radios etc. Also if it's a little bit bumpy, it adds to the challenge.

An untrained pilot would normally get exhausted fairly quick. The risk of loss of situational/positional awareness is also high and would add to the severity of the situation

Doing a 180 would in most cases take you out of the cloUds within a couple of minutes if you act swift. I think it's the best solution.

All of my instructors have been remarkably unisono on this one: "enter solid cloud, and you have two minutes until you're dead" . (the only difference being the interval left alive, some saying one minute, another three). Mind you I am speaking from the microlight world where AI's are found heavy and expensive, and generally avoided. Thus my only reflex about clouds is to remain VERY distant, much more than legally required. The one time I was flying into EBFN on the coast, from the landside, and saw a massive wall of sea-fog blowing in, my 180 was an almost instinctive reaction even at several miles away. The very serious tone of the EBFN radio operator's warning must have helped.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

You can keep wings level, in very smooth air and with a lot of care, just using the compass or the DI. Absolute last resort though!

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I agree Peter - but I'm also aware in training microlight pilots for the NPPL(SSEA) [according to the flying school I teach at, I'm now the "specialist" in this - having taught nearly two whole students ! - possibly more relevantly I was a microlight pilot first myself], I'm training people who'll quite likely buy permit aeroplanes that lack any form of artificial horizon, and may also lack a DI.

So the ASI and the compass are quite possibly all they'll have in their future flying career, and the flying school spamcan I'm teaching them in is quite possibly the best IFR instrument fit they'll ever see.


Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.

I was talking to my first instructor just a week ago, and we happened to touch the subject of flights in clouds. In his opinion (which I agree with), the primary reason for crashing within minutes of entering IMC is not so much the lack of skill as pilot panic. As a result, flying into small shreds of clouds where you pop in and out every several seconds may be still more dangerous than one big solid cloud.

LKBU (near Prague), Czech Republic

If you don't have an AI, then you should be taught to avoid it altogether. An untrained pilot who is shown how to fly on compass in IMC during training is never going to remember how to do it under pressure years later.

EGTK Oxford

Flying in clouds like a lot of other things just takes a little practice.

But unlike most other things, the price for not doing it right is often very high. Therefore, IMHO it is not to play with until one is properly trained.

the ASI and the compass are quite possibly all they'll have in their future flying career

Quite correct, but my little bird does boast an altimeter AND a vario on top! These four, plus the engine tachometer, being the legal minimum here. In Hungary, where I found her, she didn't even have a compass.

I do should like to be taken into cloud though, just to know what it looks and feels like, and to be taught the best way of getting out in the given circumstances. Only I'm afraid I'll be frightened out of my wits, given the horror stories I've been told.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Take a cat with you... if you fly into cloud throw it out... it's legs point downwards...

What? :) I'll get my coat.

One item that appears to be missing from the debate, is that statistically, CFIT, Loss of control in IMC, rates very high in the fatality list.

There is obviously a reason for that. The OP, is perhaps attempting to get closer to that reason.

Two schools of thought, train well, experience the flight in true IMC, and get comfortable with flying in it, properly equipped of course.

Minimum training, and stay out of,it, and if inadvertently you encounter it, then 180 ASAP, back out.

During my IMC, the instructor never once went into true conditions. What did I want to that for, was his remark. After getting my rating, I then paid others to take me into the stuff, and complete some real life scenarios. Here in, may lie the problem.Bit like spinning in the PPL syllabus.

I am with the first option, train well, and experience the condition. Like many things, many just do not like flying in cloud, for any reason, be it climbing/descending. Others are more comfortable with it. However, there is no debate, that unless the individual is current, and comfortable, it can be an uncomfortable experience.

Fly safe. I want this thing to land l...
EGPF Glasgow
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