VFR into IMC proves fatal

Aircraft: RV-4. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Cedartown, Ga. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, took off in VFR conditions on a cross-country flight. There was no record of the pilot obtaining a preflight briefing.

About an hour and a half after departing, the airplane encountered instrument meteorological conditions. The accident site was located within an area covered by an AIRMET for IFR conditions due to ceilings below 1,000 feet AGL and for visibility less than three miles. The location was also immediately south of the boundary for a convective SIGMET for an area of embedded thunderstorms moving southeasterly at 20 knots with cloud tops to 45,000 feet AGL.

Witnesses on the ground said the ceilings were low and it was raining and foggy at the time of the accident. They could hear the airplane circling above them, but they could not see it due to the clouds. The airplane crashed in a left-wing-low and nose-down attitude.

Based on the witness descriptions, investigators determined it is likely the pilot was trying to navigate out of the inclement weather, did not maintain airspeed, and lost control.

Probable cause: The pilot’s continued flight into instrument meteorological conditions and his failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering for a forced landing, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and collision with terrain.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA467

This July 2012 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. says

    IFR is the most safe way to fly. Many do not venture into that “Rich Mans Land”, because you must be fairly well off to do it. Getting your license under the current rules, and then upgrading your aircraft to comply with the current rules. Everybody knows that the VOR is going away, and most of the other IFR type equipment is not only antiquated, but also very expensive. Every airport has a GPS approach, and most pilots that would like to use IFR for flight, have no desire to try approaches at minimums. Why does the FAA not get off it’s duff and give some options for complying with IFR under less severe, but still IFR, conditions. I have synthetic vision, GPS, ADSB in/out, and Mode S transponder, yet my craft is not compliant with the current IFR rules. I only NEED GPS approaches into minimums that would qualify for VFR. Then no more of this “getting into IMC when VFR” and ending up dead.

  2. RudyH says

    btw Sweep…orange you glad your six hour bender is over….pour yourself another one or two or three…..

  3. SR says

    RudyH, you comment very often on these accidents with a strong leaning against a persons age and medical status as being the cause for safety issues. Again, this is a clear case of failure to properly plan for a flight and another vfr pilot attempting to fly in imc. Age and medical certificate have nothing to do with it…this happens with many people of various ages. The drugs detected may have had some affect, but clearly are not what would have created his bad decisions which started with planning assisted by a competent friend. I am not sure of your motives, but you need to start looking at the overall facts of this type accident and stop using every opportunity to bash people over 40 and third class medicals. If you are a pilot, I am sure you are no saint. If your are not a pilot, then stop commenting. You bias is insulting. Pilots need to at a minimum check all weather issues related to their flight as required by regulations, try to call flight service or use DUATS to have a record of checking, and stop trying to fly beyond their limitations. Again, age, medical certificate level, medications, and number of hours experience have been all over the “chart” in this type of foolish disregard for safety. The bottom line is…if you are not instrument rated, stay vfr period.

    • RudyH says

      It’s called speaking my mind sonny….I can accept the plain truth of of a factor that negatively Permeates our entire global society, and is costly to safety, yes….that is Acceptance….can you? I’ll be on here for a long time to come……got that??

      • Sleepy says

        Thank God not very many globalites are ready to accept your “plain truth”. Real truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

        • RudyH says

          Well Sweepee……we knew we’d get you out here……we know what you aren’t….what do you know? There that is.

          • Sleepy says

            rude de. rude de. rude de. HA Ha, HE HE. Your incompetent dribble always provides a few whimsical moments for myself and others. You know I and several others have called you out…..none of us think you are a pilot. Why don’t you refute our assertion? Only a fool tries to claim knowledge where none resides.

    • Sleepy says

      SR you’re axactly right. rude de is no pilot just another want a be member of the ama. It is a free country and he has a right to be an idiot….so let him. He is clearly biased and his opion will not make any difference in the aviation society, brotherhood or safety of our profession and pastime. Nor will he every experience the grandeur and opulence of flying your own air machine or the freedom that act brings. He likes to espouse his so called ” plain truth” as gospel which he would not know if it bit him in the A&&. I think most pilots recognize what he has to say for what it “truly” is. Blue skies my friend.

      • RudyH says

        We play hardball out here Sweepee….you can down your six o’ Schlitz and head back to your nap……..give it your best shot….so is this all you got *t*r*o*l*l*i*e* ?

          • RudyH says

            We get the last word l*i*b*t*a*r*d* *t*r*o*l*l*i*e*…….don’t cry…in your Schlitzies, that is. Momma say you be nappie, Sweepee……

          • Sleepy says

            rude de. I must say adieu and au revoir as I must go slip the surly bonds and do a 100 things you have never dreamed of.

        • Phil says

          Rudy, I can’t say your comments contribute much that is constructive re: aging and pilot skills. But they do demonstrate quite clearly that age does not necessarily lead to emotional maturity.

          • RudyH says

            You didn’t read the post mortem at all Phil, Mind Altering Drugs, repeating all after..? We have clearly noted that Most of you can’t handle the Plain Truth. So now what…..huh?

      • Sleepy says

        rude de. Delirium, such a big word for you. I just followed up on Brett’s satire. Was that more than you can understand?

        • RudyH says

          We’ll comment on the fatals….you and yours get the sidelines (they all know who they are). You’ll be gone by then though, nimrod…

          • Sleepy says

            I’m back on the ground. I know you were worried. Never tire of catching a glimpse of God’s eye view. No fatals in my post rude de. Don’t you realize Joe, Suzy and family are all doing well. Never in danger. Now granny is a little over stuffed on turkey. Kind of a little like you. I see you are not going to admit you are not a pilot. That’s ok because in your reply to Phil you state ” we have clearly noted that most of you can’t handle the (plain truth — read disinformation / falsehood / deceit.). “We” being you and your ilk. “You” being us pilots. So thanks for clearing that up. What I’d like to know is why do you think you have any reasonable business on this site. You have no credibility, no one could possible care what a fool thinks is the truth. Once again only a jester a fool could possibly claim knowledge where none exist.

          • RudyH says

            Weelll Sweepee.. you forgot again….We will have the last word…You are no philosopher, you don’t know the topics and can’t handle it….ya’ just plain Suck rookie…best for you is STFU…more hardball for ya;

          • Sleepy says

            O by the way the evening air was smooth and cool. Did not have any problems with the ama nor any jesters out at the hanger today claiming they have been endowed with all truth and know what’s best for all us poor pilots.

  4. RudyH says

    Older than 65, and medications (possibly yet having mind altering effects)….def. an over age 45 candidate for 3rd class…..and safety continues to decline…..

  5. Brett Hawkins says

    That’s flying. At least he died doing what he loved.

    And in other news, Joe Smith, his wife Suzy and their two children died when their Range Rover rolled down an embankment on the way to Christmas dinner with Granny. Troopers reported that snow and ice were predicted for the pass road that day, but none of DOT, NTSB or any other federal agency is investigating. Smith had an ordinary driver’s license and there was no record that he had visited his doctor or a driving instructor in the 24 months preceding the accident.

    • Sleepy says

      Yes it was sad to hear about Suzy and Joe and family. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing them several years. Even been up that pass with Joe on several occasions and can attest to his driving ability and decision making. It is hard to understand but sometimes bad things happen to good people. I do know he was more competent than any 40 year old I’ve ever known. Some people are trying to say it happened because he hadn’t yet applied for his ama Super Third Class Save You’re A$$ piece of paper driver’s license. I know that to be complete BS. Guess there was more turkey for granny this year.

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