Forums: Skydiving: Safety and Training:
VFR=>IMC or CFIT

 


winsor  (D 13715)

Dec 22, 2008, 12:28 PM
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VFR=>IMC or CFIT Can't Post

In powered aviation we have a few standard ways to die that require just a couple of boxes to complete in a boilerplate incident report form to capture the event in its entirety. Visual flight into instrument conditions is as fatal as it is routine, so is controlled flight into terrain.

In skydiving we have ways of coming to grief that are easily as standard, and I won't bother to name them for the purposes of this discussion. Since it's six of one, half a dozen of the other, the airplane paradigm will do nicely without anyone getting defensive (okay, maybe some of the pilot types who skydive will be thin-skinned, but this is as good as I can do).

When I had my pilot's license for about a week, I was flying home at night in marginal conditions. All the weather reports indicated that I should have VFR for another couple of hours at least, and it was only a 20 some-odd minute flight from Northeast Philadelphia to Doylestown.

I was just over 3,000 feet past Willow Grove Naval Air Station, trying to pick up the beacon at Doylestown, when I lost ground contact. All I could see was the glow of the nav lights on my wingtips.

Since I knew things were good behind me, I got on the panel and played Atari until I had executed a U-turn and broke back into the clear. I shot a visual approach into Northeast Philly and got a ride home.

When I later got a heated dressing down about what was described as a near-death experience, I blew it off as overreaction. I had done all the preflight activities by the book, and went to Plan B when conditions were much worse than reported. What's the big deal?

Fast forward to now, many thousands of flying hours later. I have buried too many friends for whom things did not work out as well - some of whom were more experienced than I am now. I have become the person giving hell to the low-timer who can't see anything wrong with pushing their luck as long as they get away with it.

Incidents in skydiving share a remarkable commonality with those in aviation, in that the bulk of them are carbon copies of previous incidents. The fact that too many of those lost were people I liked very much does not change the nature of the process whereby they came to grief.

Thus, when I read a skydiving incident report it is with the same eye that I would one titled "VFR into IMC" or "CFIT." Beyond the name and location, there is not a lot to be learned that we did not already know a long time ago.

Skydiving can only be made so safe. With a few choice decisions, however, it can be made downright fatal in a hurry.

Let's be careful out there.


BSBD,

Winsor


(This post was edited by winsor on Dec 22, 2008, 3:47 PM)


Premier LouDiamond  (D 25931)
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Dec 22, 2008, 12:36 PM
Post #2 of 12 (1744 views)
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Re: [winsor] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

Well said. I couldn't agree with you more.


diverdriver  (D 19012)

Dec 22, 2008, 3:27 PM
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Re: [winsor] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

So very true. Alas I believe only those in the "choir" will choose to read. It is a great reminder though. Thanks Windsor. I hadn't read anything from you in awhile. Good to hear from you.


diablopilot  (D License)

Dec 22, 2008, 8:59 PM
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Re: [winsor] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

Well said.


pchapman  (D 1014)

Dec 30, 2008, 7:13 AM
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Re: [winsor] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
When I later got a heated dressing down about what was described as a near-death experience, I blew it off as overreaction. I had done all the preflight activities by the book, and went to Plan B when conditions were much worse than reported. What's the big deal?

The psychology of the feedback also has application to skydiving. Winsor may have been particularly defensive at that early point in his aviating, but it could also be that the criticism he got made the others feel better while just making Winsor angry and defensive, without really helping him understand the situation.

Sometimes criticism is hard to take when one's efforts to do things right aren't recognized, even if the efforts were amateurish or insufficient. Winsor could say at the time that he flight planned properly, had a legal night VFR forecast, and as soon as he encountered poor weather, used his panel training to 180 and divert. He might wonder why all the fuss because even in professional airline service, aircraft sometimes have to divert for weather reasons to their alternate destination.

The point should have been impressed on him at the time that while he was careful to be legal and not just out busting regs, his decision making took him into a nighttime weather situation that is particularly dangerous for pilots.

Winsor should still have been praised at the time for some of his decision making -- a check of weather reports, a decision to 180 immediately, and an early decision to divert.

Criticism will help more if it is specific about what was good or less than good, even if we still want to retain the right to be able to call someone a dumbass from time to time.


LloydDobbler  (D 30655)

Jan 12, 2009, 7:18 PM
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Re: [winsor] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

Well said, Winsor. Thanks for posting that.

As for the thought above that students should always be approached with a sugar-coated 'good' and 'less-than-good' analysis, I disagree. I think some students respond better to that sort of thing. But some respond better to a good kick in the pants. Depends on the student. (It seemed to leave an impression on Winsor.)

Even so, I agree - he should've been praised for his performance when he had assessed the situation. (In addition to the solid kick in the pants for getting himself into the situation to begin with). Wink


airathanas  (D 29277)

Jan 13, 2009, 10:47 AM
Post #7 of 12 (1276 views)
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Re: [LloydDobbler] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent point Winsor. Your post reminds me of a conversation I had with a low-timer this weekend. I'm not a skygod myself, and I consider myself a low-timer as well, but I had to speak up when this situation came up.

I jumped with a guy this weekend who said he had 70 or 80 jumps and he's ready to strap on a camera and a wingsuit. Instead of telling him that he's wrong, and that he's rushing things (which would have motivated him more to do those things too quickly), I reasoned with him. I said, think of all of the things that you've learned between now and when you started. Now you never know what you're going to learn between now and 200 jumps. Instead of arguing, he said, yeah, you're right. Now it makes sense to him. I just hope he follows my advice.


Premier wmw999  (D 6296)

Jan 13, 2009, 11:18 AM
Post #8 of 12 (1271 views)
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Re: [airathanas] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Now you never know what you're going to learn between now and 200 jumps
I remember being at a boogie where someone was putting together impromptu bigways. A very talented newbie (<100 jumps) was going on some of them. It got to 80, and said newbie was manifesting.

The discussion was something to the effect of: "I know you can handle flying your slot -- you've proved that again and again. Can you handle being in the middle of an 80-person funnel?"

Worked for them. And last I heard, they were still alive, too Smile

Wendy W.


nomal2day  (C License)

Jan 15, 2009, 4:52 PM
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Re: [wmw999] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
Now you never know what you're going to learn between now and 200 jumps
I remember being at a boogie where someone was putting together impromptu bigways. A very talented newbie (<100 jumps) was going on some of them. It got to 80, and said newbie was manifesting.

The discussion was something to the effect of: "I know you can handle flying your slot -- you've proved that again and again. Can you handle being in the middle of an 80-person funnel?"

Worked for them. And last I heard, they were still alive, too Smile

Wendy W.

An excellent point well made. I almost always find things of value when reading the disparate threads on these forums! And thank you to all those who take the time to respond with their input.Cool


velvetjo  (D License)

Jan 30, 2009, 4:58 AM
Post #10 of 12 (1083 views)
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Re: [winsor] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

Great post!

The thing I've noticed with a lot of folks who are intelligent, athletic, and have assertive personalities is that they sometimes need to "see it for themselves" to be convinced. This generally serves them well in life, but in aviation it can significantly shorten one's lifespan.

I've recognized some of this tendency in myself, and have actively sought out opportunities to fly with pilots who've been around the block a few times. It's little stuff like where to look for the first indications of ice on the airframe that saved my bacon on later solo flights. Rides in more advanced aircraft with better weather and de-icing systems were great ways of seeing what little airplanes were *not* capable of getting through too.

But skydiving is more of a solo deal, and there's less opportunity to learn directly from other jumpers while in the air. It's cool that folks on this site offer constructive suggestions to break down skills into manageable chunks - it's about the next best thing to being in the rig with somebody else.

I get a lot of questions about flying video & stills lately, and see a variety of reactions to the answers. I'm still learning a lot myself, so it's sometimes discouraging when a jumper with no camera experience tries to rush the process or simply won't listen to answers they don't like.

I heard a very accomplished mountaineer a while back who likened climbing to an appreticeship with the mountain. Seems that we could do well to emulate this ethic.

Lance


Bill_K  (D 30260)

Feb 1, 2009, 4:00 PM
Post #11 of 12 (1027 views)
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Re: [pchapman] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Winsor should still have been praised at the time for some of his decision making -- a check of weather reports, a decision to 180 immediately, and an early decision to divert.

Yes and no. The get-home-itis caused a judgment call that early in his career caused him to have to fall back on using the 180. So while he should be praised for what he did right, he also, understandably should have been talked to for a poor judgment call to start with.

How many skydiving incidents start with a poor judgment call?

Anyway, great post, great thread. Not sure if I'm one of the choir, but I hope to stay around long enough to someday be considered one of church members at least.


Premier DSE  (D 29060)
Moderator
Feb 1, 2009, 6:14 PM
Post #12 of 12 (1010 views)
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Re: [winsor] VFR=>IMC or CFIT [In reply to] Can't Post

Sometimes, they do listen.
I wish I'd have listened more closely a time or two.



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