Safety Tip: Don’t Fly Into Clouds!
This blog entry is part of an ongoing series of blogs dedicated to the safety culture we’re creating here at Rogue Aviation. Read the overview for this series here!
Before we jump into this one, there are a few terms you need to be aware of. VFR, IFR and IMC. VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules. VFR is a set of rules for flying based on a pilot’s ability to fly using visual reference to the ground and their surroundings. IFR stands for Instrument Flight Rules. IFR is a set of rules for flying based on using cockpit instruments to fly when visual reference is unavailable. IMC stands for Instrument Meteorological conditions which refers to weather conditions in which a pilot would need to fly under IFR.
Got all that? Okay… let’s go!
Anyone who’s been flying for any amount of time should be well aware of this one, but it’s surprising how many people who are new to aviation don’t know about it. Flying into clouds (or other hazardous weather) is the most dangerous aspect of flying. In fact, the vast majority of fatal aviation accidents are weather related!
“Spatial awareness” is a term that pilots become familiar with in their training. It’s what you lose when you fly into clouds (IMC). Essentially, when a pilot cannot establish a visual reference for what is up or down, they tend to quickly make a series of small errors and corrections that result in catastrophe. In a cloud, all a pilot sees is white and they have no reference for up or down. With a combination of the right instruments AND IFR training (and certification), a pilot can successfully navigate these situations. However, many pilots are only trained as VFR pilots and many aircraft are not certified for IFR and/or don’t possess the instruments needed to fly in IMC.
While we offer IFR training at Rogue Aviation and have an IFR equipped helicopter (hello, “Rogue Four!”), Robinson helicopters are not certified for flying in IMC. Hence, “don’t fly into clouds!”
While there is obviously a lot more that could be said on the topic (like, a LOT), we’ll save that for your training!