Flight into IMC fatal

The instrument-rated pilot departed in the Cirrus SR22 with a reported cloud ceiling of 400 feet above ground level and 3 miles visibility.

A witness, who was about 0.3 nautical miles west of the departure end of the runway in Chesterfield, Mo., saw the SR22’s navigation lights for about three to five seconds as it traveled west. It appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed and in a descent. He saw a fireball as the plane hit the trees and terrain. [Read more…]

Unstabilized approach bends 182

As the pilot approached the airport in Stanwood, Wash., he maneuvered the Cessna 182 to enter a standard traffic pattern. On final approach, he fully extended the wing flaps while reducing the engine power. He then temporarily added power to attain adequate clearance from trees located before the runway. [Read more…]

Stearman ground loops

Prior to landing, the Stearman A75 pilot listened to the automated weather station at the airport in Appleton, Wis., which reported the wind out of the west at 8 knots. During the landing roll, the right wing lifted suddenly, the left wing hit the ground, and the airplane ground looped. [Read more…]

The last link: Dealing with the loss of a friend

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“Oh, $%*@# !….” Waking up to the news that he had lost another friend to an aviation accident was not a good way to start the day for Tom Bush (CDR, USN, ret.)

This latest tragic mishap claimed pilot number 21 in his own necrology of civilian and military pilots he had known over the years. Bush’s friend, former airport neighbor, and fellow Mooney driver had flown into trees in pre-dawn fog in Norfolk, Virginia, killing the pilot and two passengers onboard.

Bush’s aviation safety analysis training kicked in almost before the morning’s coffee, and he pored over weather charts, ATC tapes, and the Mooney’s flight path tracings toward his old Tidewater, Virginia, stomping grounds.

It began to look very much as if his friend’s accident was the last link in a distressingly long chain of questionable decisions. [Read more…]