Be Very Afraid of This Pilot

By Robert Mark on October 30th, 2009

After running this blog for three years or so I can honestly say I’ve seen and heard quite a few really interesting stories about the aviation industry. I’m headed to AOPA Summit in Tampa next week because I want to hear a few more.

The other day I got a note with a video link from another avid blogger, Max Trescott, the Digital Cockpit god at Max Trescott on General Aviation. Quite frankly it sent shivers down my spine even though the video ran just a few minutes.

close call - jetwhine I’m not sure precisely where it was shot, but it was a bunch of guys in a 36 model Bonanza providing chase plane photography services to an L-39.

It became terrifying to me as an instructor when the Bonanza inadvertently flew into IMC. In a flash, I caught a glimpse of trees flying past the windshield and realized how close these idiots all came to meeting their maker. Hang in when you watch it for the part where they survey the damage to the Bonanza after they land.

This video should be required viewing for every VFR pilot about the dangers of getting lost in the clouds. As Max said, “This pilot should have his license pulled.” Give the video a few minutes of your time and pass on the link. And if you ever survive a flight like this, turn the pilot in, please. You might just save a life or two.

Rob Mark

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6 Responses to “Be Very Afraid of This Pilot”

  1. Charlene G Says:

    That’s absolutely terrifying.

  2. Eric Says:

    Jesus H Christ!!!!!

    What happened to the L-39? I mean this guy is beating the weeds and theres a jet trainer somewhere nearby in formation?

  3. Robert Mark Says:

    That’s a very good question Eric. I got so focused on the Bonanza that I completely lost track of the jet.

  4. jeff Martin Says:

    ” I got so focused on the Bonanza that I completely lost track of the jet.”

    Sounds like that’s what the bonanza’s pilot should have done.

  5. The best of 1000+ aviation blog posts | Plastic Pilot Says:

    [...] One impressive video appeared in several blogs. It shows a VFR aircraft entering IMC and continuing. At one point, the wingtip hits terrain, in the closest call I ever saw. I’m not sure this pilot learned anything from this mishap, but I share Rob’s opinion: be very afraid of this pilot. [...]

  6. Paul Cox Says:

    The video- and your advice to turn in pilots when they’re like this- calls to mind a debate that I have off and on with people I work with.

    I’m a controller, and I’m a big believer that ATC should be turning far more pilots over to the FSDO folks. We see guys bust clearances or do things wrong (say, flying approaches incorrectly) far more frequently than we actually refer things to FSDO.

    The tendency, at least at my facility, is for ATC people to think “well, we’re not skycops, so it’s not our job to see to it that these pilots are punished.”

    My point is that they’re exactly correct- so we should turn what happened over to the FSDO folks, who ARE in charge of that kind of thing, and let them deal with the issue.

    The answer back is “well if some pilot loses his license for that, does he deserve it?” Or if it’s a professional pilot, he’ll get in trouble and maybe lose his job over it. “It was just this one little thing…” people tell me.

    Well, fine- right now. But what if this pilot has been screwing stuff up once a month, but since it’s on a Tuesday swing shift in Seattle Center this time, and next time it’s on a Monday day shift in Salt Lake Center, and another time it’s at Portland Approach?

    Suddenly it becomes obvious that it might well be a big problem, that this is a pilot who’s going to wind up killing him/herself and probably some passengers, but to each of the ATC facilities involved it was that “one time thing” so they never turned it in…

    My stepmom was a FSDO inspector for several years. I asked her about the “big bad inspector that just wants to cause trouble for pilots” image that many people have. She admitted that sure, there’s some FSDO inspectors who can be like that- but that in her experience, the majority are like anyone else. They’re just folks who want to do a good job.

    Her emphasis was always on increasing safety. If that meant telling a guy to review the procedures for proper course reversal into an approach and then get back to her for a verbal quiz, and that would suffice to educate him and get him flying right, that’s fine.

    On the other hand, if she had to throw the book at a guy who flew (for example) after 9/11 when the airspace shutdown had been going for some time and he was specifically told “no, you cannot fly”, she would do that, too.

    The point is that I 100% agree with you, Rob; we need to quit hesitating to turn crummy pilots in. If it’s truly “just a one-time”, not very serious thing, great; the pilot can learn and move onward. But if it’s what it takes to keep guys like the one in the video (which is unfortunately no longer available) from flying, it’s definitely what we need to start doing.

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