This is one of the most disturbing videos that I have ever seen. It’s taken from the inside of Beechcraft Bonanza and shows a pilot in formation with an L39, flying in marginal VMC conditions around mountainous terrain. The pilot ‘inadvertently’ enteres cloud at low altitude and comes within inches of killing all on board his aircraft. The pilot shows a callous disregard for the law and seems to completely overlook the dangers of flying in IMC in such conditions. The video has no doubt made its way into the training arsenal of every flight instructor that’s seen it.
When I undertook my rotary licence my instructor continued to reinforce the idea that “there was a wire out there with my name on it” if I went looking for it. The same sentiment applies to fixed wing pilots and terrain.
It’s one (stupid) thing for a pilot to have such a blatant contempt for safety and endanger himself. It is unconscionable that this pilot’s careless and reckless disregard for safety almost cost the lives of others.
A lot of people are calling this a near-miss. It was not… It was a crash. It was a CFIT. The pilot impacted terrain damaging the right wingtip and collected some souvenir foliage in the process. To say that this clown was lucky is a ludicrously gross understatement.
Having flown countless formation sorties in the past, I question why the operation went ahead in the first place in such marginal conditions – it was a photo shoot after all.
As part of any formation exercise – particularly in questionable conditions – an IMC escape procedure would be discussed as part of the pre-departure brief. This moron continued in straight and level flight in IMC when the terrain was known to be a factor… I imagine that this suicide maneuver wasn’t the discussed option. Having said that, and on the basis on the poor airmanship demonstrated, I find it unlikely that a comprehensive brief was discussed anyhow.
A turn in such conditions are fraught with potential dangers. One could argue that the only sensible option in such a situation would be to fly a wings-level, maximum power, maximum angle climb. If the pilot wasn’t instrument rated I imagine that this procedure itself would have been quite challenging in the circumstances, particularly since it would have taken them deeper into IMC conditions.
The video is sourced from YouTube (which has since been removed by the author). The editing on the video is not mine.