10,000 Hour Pilot Flies into Hill

The October 2017 AAIB Bulletin reports the tragic death of a 64 year old pilot of a Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche. The pilot had 10,673 hours (2,140 on type and 0 in the past 28 days) and was flying into Chalgrove Airfield to pick up two passengers for an onward flight. It was likely that the aircraft flew in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) below Height 1000 ft for at least 1 minute 45 seconds before flying into some trees standing on a ridge of high ground. 

The report cites Safety Sense Leaflet 23, Pilots - It’s Your Decision. In particular: 

'Pilots who had fatal Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents were typically ... very experienced. Of all CFIT accidents, 82% included unwise reaction to weather conditions (such as continuing to fly into worsening weather) and 64% had not adhered to their Minimum Safety Altitude, trying to get ‘below the weather’ or hoping to confirm their position.’ 

It is all too easy to conceive that the little bit of cloud that you have suddenly flown into is just a patch and you will soon fly out of the other side. Remember that higher ground often attracts a lower cloud base, so that little bit of cloud may be your early warning of something much worse just ahead. Just waiting to see what will happen next is not a good plan.  

Scud running is always best avoided but if you must, remember that keeping well below the cloud base is much safer than scraping along just below.  

GASCo offers its sincere sympathy to the pilot’s family and friends.  

There are 16 other reports of fixed wing accidents in the bulletin and these include 8 landings accidents, including one resulting from gear failure. There are 3 taxying accidents, 2 take off accidents and 3 forced landings following power loss at less than Height 500 ft on take off or go around. In two cases the three occupants walked away uninjured. However, the two occupants of an Europa were seriously injured. The engine began to lose power at about Height 100 ft and they collided with trees during the final stages of the approach to a field and crashed. 

There were two gyrocopter accidents, one on landing and one on take off and there was one UAV accident where control by the operator was lost and the vehicle eventually crashed into the sea.