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Accident Case Study: In Too DeepAccident Case Study: In Too Deep


If you or your flying club members think you’re immune to being a victim of VFR into IMC because you have an instrument rating, think again.

In 2010, there were 29 VFR into IMC accidents involving general aviation aircraft, and 21 of those – or 72 percent – were fatal. This continues to be an area of high lethality, and it involves pilots of all certificate and experience levels. Twelve of the 29 accidents (41 percent) had at least one instrument-rated pilot on board, and 8 had a commercial pilot or ATP on board.  Nineteen of the accident flights were flown by private pilots.

The Air Safety Institute (ASI) offers many products and publications for pilots on a variety of safety education topics…including VFR into IMC. One of ASI’s most popular products is the Accident Case Study series. The latest in the series, In Too Deep , is a re-creation of an accident that occurred in suburban Chicago on November 26, 2011.

The 207-hour non-instrument-rated private pilot took off from Marion, Indiana, in a Cirrus SR20, and was flying to DuPage Airport, near Chicago. On board were his two daughters, and the boyfriend of the younger daughter. The purpose of the flight was to bring the older daughter back to college and then return home to Indiana. All four occupants were killed when the aircraft plunged to the ground after nearly two hours of flight time.

Using audio of the pilot’s discussions with ATC and factual information from the NTSB report, ASI’s program pieces together the story of the flight and looks at what may have motivated the pilot to continue past the point of no return.

There are many lessons to be learned from this accident. Encourage your flying club members to view this Accident Case Study online, or better yet show it to the entire group at your next safety meeting. The discussion that you are sure to have after watching it is an excellent way to learn together. 

In addition to this Accident Case Study, ASI offers many other resources to help pilots avoid VFR into IMC. Online courses and PDF downloads can be found here.

Many ASI products are eligible for Wings credit and AOPA Accident Forgiveness. In addition, you may download certificates of completion from your ASI Transcript.

The Air Safety Institute is a division of the non-profit AOPA Foundation. Funding for this project was made possible by a generous contribution from George Bumb, Jr.

Topics: Accident, Safety and Education, Instrument Rating

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