It’s a familiar refrain – continued VFR into IMC. This particular case was worse than most as it involved 6 fatalities. A Piper Seneca – more than fully loaded – went down in West Virginia. The VFR owner-pilot was flying a group of flying club members to check out an aircraft that was for sale. You can review the whole sad saga in the Air Safety Institute’s latest Accident Case Study: Cross-Country Crisis. It will also be a landmark accident feature in the December AOPA Pilot.
It’s really hard – impossible actually – to defend the indefensible. The sheer magnitude of this pilot’s ignorance, or willingness to take risk with both his own as well as other people’s lives, is staggering. No trip, no mission, no reward is worth the outcome you’ll see here. And as usual, we know what happened but do not understand why. I suspect there is no good answer other than “I thought I could make this work and didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.” Ego likely plays a part.
Please take a look at this case study and let us know what you think – good or bad. The decision was made not to let this accident slide quietly into oblivion but rather to hold this up as a really bad example of decision-making. Share it with your risk taking friends. There will be more to say on this topic in the near future – received a very thoughtful letter from a reader who poses a good question.