Ambushed by Ice

A Real Pilot Story produced by the Air Safety Institute

December 15, 2012

Ice ambush

When your flying club gets together for hangar flying sessions and safety meetings, there is likely a lot of story-telling from pilots who have “been there, done that.” In flying, as with many things in life, it’s a good idea to learn from the mistakes of others. The latest installment in the Air Safety Institute’s (ASI’s) Real Pilot Story series of videos helps pilots do just that, and is a must-see before flying this winter.

Imagine you’re planning a flight along a route you travel often, in an aircraft you own, and there is no serious weather in the forecast. You are feeling well, you’ve done a thorough aircraft preflight inspection, and everything else checks out.  It makes perfect sense to go on that flight. Now imagine your surprise when you begin picking up severe ice en route, enough ice to nearly bring down your Cessna 182. That’s exactly what happened to pilot Dean Clark.

Hear Clark, in his own words, describe what started as a routine flight he had flown hundreds of times, and almost ended in tragedy. He came close to being one of the 13 icing-related accidents that occurs each year, on average, in general aviation aircraft.

Encourage all members of your flying club to watch the 10-minute-long Real Pilot Story as Clark recounts the tale of his unexpected struggle in ice-filled clouds, see the aircraft photos taken after the flight, and take the opportunity to review some critical facts before flying this winter. Some of the important lessons learned from his experience include: Fly the airplane first; tell ATC when you have an emergency; remember that ice prediction is an inexact science; and understand the limitations of your aircraft.

In addition to this Real Pilot Story, ASI offers many other resources for pilots participating in cold weather operations. A webinar, accident case studies, safety videos, online courses, quizzes, and PDF downloads can be found at: http://www.aopa.org/asf/hotspot/winterwx.html. Also remember to help out your fellow pilots by giving pireps, especially when the weather is worse—or better—than forecast. ASI offers an online course, SkySpotter, about how to get, give, and use pireps.

According to ASI’s most recent Nall Report , 33% of the icing-related accidents that occurred in 2010 were fatal.

So gather your club together for a winter flying safety session, view the Ambushed by Ice Real Pilot Story, and learn from each other. As the saying goes, we don’t have time to make every mistake ourselves.

The Air Safety Institute is a division of the non-profit AOPA Foundation. Funding for this project was made possible by generous contributions from the Donner Canadian Foundation and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) Flight Safety Foundation.