the discussion of winter weather hazards from the previous issue
of Callback, the following reports offer more insight into the
risks of attempting to fly VFR in IMC. Most of these reports
were submitted by pilots flying in Alaska, but the lessons apply
into a valley under a low overcast is tempting fate. If the
weather deteriorates, the only VFR escape may be a 180-degree
turn. As this C207 pilot learned, one turn may lead to another,
and another, and...
planned to head south along the shoreline and then continue
northwest...then direct Bethel. I departed as planned and
flew about 23 miles south. Low clouds blocked the valley I'd
planned to follow... but the next one south was open. I proceeded
into this valley at approximately 800 feet MSL with three
miles visibility. I continued to the end of this valley where,
due to lower ceilings and visibility, I decided to turn back....
I traveled back about three miles to a point where I did not
want to continue due to low weather conditions. I again reversed
course and began looking for an alternate route. I found an
open pass leading to the north and proceeded into it. At first
this pass looked good. As I continued in further, the turbulence
began to increase and the ceiling began to lower. I had not
gone far when I could see that I would not be able to continue.
At this point I was having trouble controlling the aircraft
due to the turbulence caused by the gusty winds out of the
east. I made the decision to turn around and head out of the
pass.... Due to rising terrain and lowered ceilings, I was
now at 200-300 feet AGL. I was struggling to maintain control
of the aircraft. My attention was being divided between looking
outside and at the instrument panel. I was looking outside
to maintain clearance from the terrain and to try and navigate,
but I was becoming very disoriented as the plane pitched and
rolled and went in and out of the clouds. I had very few visual
clues and the sloping terrain was making it very difficult
to gain a horizon reference. Basically, I was looking outside
to maintain terrain clearance and using the instruments to
maintain control of the aircraft. I decided that at this point
my safest option was to climb above the terrain and head directly
back to [departure airport]. I turned, added full power and
climbed quickly, leveling off at 3,200 feet MSL. This altitude
gave me 1,000 feet of terrain clearance. I then began navigating
this occurrence, I have advised my fellow company pilots to
only travel established routes or not go at all when the weather
the Weather II
PA32 pilot did a commendable job of getting on the ground under
difficult circumstances. The decision to enter and continue
up a canyon in the face of deteriorating weather, however, could
easily have resulted in something worse than a minor runway
was able to maintain 5,500 feet MSL until about 40 miles from
ZZZ. Lowering clouds took me into the Yukon River canyon,
where I maintained a VFR altitude of 1,500 feet MSL. The ceiling
was still about 2,500 feet, with 15-20 miles visibility. Outside
air temp was steady at about -10 degrees centigrade. Due to
the lower cruise altitude and being in a canyon, my normal
attempts to monitor the ASOS (Automated Surface Observing
System) were unsuccessful. As I got to within five miles of
the airport, the weather deteriorated with visibility dropping
to just over three miles, but still with an adequate ceiling,
so I continued my approach. About two miles from the airport
and with the field in sight, I began picking up the first
indication of precipitation on my windscreen. Within less
than one minute, my windscreen went from clear to totally
iced over from freezing rain. I was still able to maintain
contact with the airport through my side windows and elected
to land. I judged this to be a better option than attempting
a retreat back down the canyon in deteriorating weather with
an iced-over windscreen, and facing a 200 mile return in dwindling
light. With constant attention to airspeed, altitude, and
visual contact with the field, I made a close-in overhead
approach to Runway 24 and landed. Upon touching down, I briefly
lost visual reference, and the aircraft veered off the left
edge of the runway.... There were no injuries....
the Weather III
this C208 pilot made a wise decision to climb out of the weather
before becoming a CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) statistic.
departed...for Nome. Departure weather was VMC. Nome had been
IMC, although the weather was reported to be improving. About
30 DME from the Nome VOR, I began a descent from 4,500 feet
MSL in an attempt to get under the weather. I stopped the
descent at 500 feet MSL. Between 12-14 DME from the Nome VOR,
I was scanning outside while attempting to keep ahead of my
instrument scan. I made visual contact with the terrain. A
glance at the radar altimeter indicated 300 feet AGL and decreasing.
I immediately pitched the aircraft up, added full power, and
executed a climbing 180-degree turn to 3,500 feet. I returned
to VFR conditions and landed safely back at [departure airport].
the "Go Mode"
a rough departure, this B737 flight crew questioned the wisdom
of trying to get out ahead of the weather.
Captain and I had finished all of our preflight planning and
viewing of the radar in station operations. We were just sitting
in the cockpit waiting for the passengers to board. Looking
out my window, I saw the weather deteriorating to the west.
The Captain coordinated, through station operations and departure
control, the best route around the building weather. We blocked
out early so we could "beat" the weather. As we
were going to Runway 14R, the winds shifted (clue #1) to favor
a Runway 18 departure. We taxied out and were primed to go.
The tower queried us as to whether we wanted to "take
a look" at the weather and the runway (clue #2). We had
viewed it on the radar as we taxied out and decided we could
"press on" (clue #3). As we were rolling down the
runway, the gust front overtook the field and required almost
full rudder input to maintain runway centerline. Once we got
airborne, I had to fight with the aircraft to maintain control.
We experienced a gaining-performance [wind] shear. The rest
of the flight was uneventful except for the continuous conversation
between both pilots as to how we got into the situation and
how to prevent this in the future. We were definitely in the
"go mode." We should have taken a much more conservative
view towards the takeoff, read the clues, and constantly reevaluated
the threat. Had we done this, I believe we would have waited
for the weather to pass and had an uneventful takeoff with
much less risk to our passengers and ourselves.
pilot's experience was directly related to cold weather operations,
but the lesson learned applies to aircraft preflight procedures
in any conditions. By making a walk-around inspection the last
procedure before startup, a pilot can catch items such as chocks,
tie-downs, covers, or other items that may have been forgotten
or put in place without the pilot's knowledge. This is especially
true if the aircraft has undergone loading or fueling operations
to my scheduled flight, I did my preflight and repositioned
the aircraft by hand for fueling and loading. I removed the
wing covers and thought I had unplugged the cord from the engine
heat plug-in. After loading, I removed and stored the engine
cover. I then taxied out with ground control, did my run-up,
and got takeoff clearance from the tower. As I lifted off, the
controller informed me that there appeared to be a "rope"
trailing from my aircraft. I requested and was given landing
clearance. After landing and taxiing back, I shut down and got
out to investigate. I saw that the engine heater extension cord
was still plugged in and had trailed behind me throughout taxi,
takeoff and landing. There was no damage to the aircraft....
I don't know whether someone plugged the cord back in after
I removed it, or I simply missed unplugging it. However, I am
ultimately responsible for the safety of the flight, so the
blame lies with me. Our goal is to come up with a procedure
to ensure this doesn't happen again.
each tenth of an inch of barometric pressure (Hg) equaling 100
feet of altitude, the possibility of significant altitude errors
can result when flying in areas with very low pressure. The
old adage about barometric altimeter settings, "High to
low, watch out below," takes on a whole new meaning when
you are the one "below."
were cleared to hold as published...and reported established...[in
holding]. Another aircraft [in the holding pattern] reported
accumulating ice, and requested lower. ATC assigned 11,000
feet MSL which was 1,000 feet above our assigned altitude.
A very low altimeter setting (29.02) was confirmed with ATC
twice. We visually acquired the other aircraft as they descended
to, and entered, holding within 200 feet of our altitude just
behind us. We were probably obscured below their nose. Obviously,
the aircraft's altimeter remained at 29.92 inches as our standby
altimeter was set to reference their possible deviation. ATC
queried their altitude two or three times. They responded,
"11,000," apparently unaware of the altimeter setting....
We accelerated our aircraft briefly to achieve some spacing
in the pattern. ATC then told us to be sure and hold as published.
ATC advised, "This is a very low altimeter setting and
proper setting is important." The other aircraft became
aware of the altimeter error and climbed to 1,000 feet above
our altitude. There was no TCASII alert!
cabin crews informed about anticipated adverse weather conditions
can help to avoid injury and aid in planning cabin service procedures.
climb out, our aircraft experienced sudden and abrupt turbulence....
It occurred 15 minutes after takeoff as I was setting up my
beverage cart in the galley area. I did not pull the cart
out. The aircraft took a sudden drop and I was forced to the
floor. My elbow and shoulder hit the bulkhead. I crawled to
a seat that was unoccupied. I buckled the seat belt and remained
seated until the cabin stopped bouncing around. The captain
called on the intercom to find out if we were hurt and told
us to remain seated. I was totally unaware that there was
severe weather in the area and that we would be going in or
around thunderstorms. ... I would have remained strapped in
my jump seat if informed prior to departure of any expected
Recently Issued Alerts On...
rudder and stabilizer trim failure
nose gear extension failure
brakes installed on B737-700
Breathing Equipment (PBE) explosion
U.S. airport taxiway signage deficiency
November 2004 Report Intake
Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots