We periodically get onto a doom and gloom kick when something nasty happens that really shouldn’t have. VFR into IMC is one of those. In 2009 there were 14 accidents of which twelve were fatal. That doesn’t sound like a lot and relative to prior years it isn’t. Earlier in this decade the average has been closer to 30 mishaps.
Not many pilots or their passengers come back from this misjudgment. Compared to GA accidents as a whole, where about one in 5 is fatal, weather is not something to trifle with. The Air Safety Institute has a new Pilot Safety Announcement (PSA) that was published a few weeks ago.
Some of the really old timers out there may remember this “Scare’em straight” video which comes from a study AOPA funded through the University of Illinois in 1954. It took the average VFR pilot less than three minutes to lose control in IMC and crash. Many don’t even make it to the two minute mark.
It’s a different approach from our other PSAs which are more tongue in cheek. This one’s brutal and probably should not be shown to prospective passengers if you’re a VFR pilot about to take a trip on anything other than a clear day.
Should this be distributed to new VFR pilots as they get ready to spread their wings or is it too much? . We’ve shown this occasionally at safety seminars to gauge audience reaction, which has been mixed. Some thought it was tough love and appropriate. Others thought it was over the top. Were we too tough? Lock in your votes please.