It was with great discouragement that I read of what appears to be another VFR into IMC accident this past weekend. A doctor flying with his wife, two of their children and a physician friend were on their way to Dallas. They made it all of eight miles after departing Jones Airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma, apparently betting on the flat terrain of the Sooner state to allow a quick trip to an Oklahoma University football game. Unfortunately, a tower guy wire only 150 feet AGL ended the flight. Witnesses noted very low clouds and fog in the area. Weather at Jones airport was reported at 600 OVC and 4 miles.
Football is a religion for some but it’s not a good reason to lose your life in an aircraft and take 4 other trusting souls with you. Pilot-in-command is an awesome responsibility that a few of us may take a bit casually. It’s not intentional but the results are the same.
It is premature to be too outspoken but I’ll make a strong bet on what the probable cause will be. We don’t yet know the pilot’s experience or ratings but this type of weather is exactly why there are instrument ratings and IFR flight plans.
Within our flying community, we have to start being a little more outspoken, in a respectful way, when we learn of someone pushing the limits. In most cases, the accident doesn’t occur the first time they try an end run. Success breeds contempt and the pattern of flirting with disaster may go for years before the last link in the accident chain is complete.
Fly VFR when it’s prudent to do so and IFR when you must! An IFR flight plan was on file butclearance apparently was never received.
I can’t say it more eloquently that this ASF Pilot Safety Announcement - Please forward to anyone you think might benefit. These accidents are tremendously expensive, monetarily, emotionally, and politically.