Mistakes are a fact of life and we will all make our share of them. However, making a mistake as a pilot is different than making other types of mistakes as the consequences can be fatal for both those in the air and people on the ground.
Hence, a post written late last year by Vincent, the blogger behind the PlasticPilot, about three mistakes that can kill a pilot is well worth repeating again. His three mistakes included the following:
Pilot Mistake #1: VFR in IMC. Vincent pointed out that entering into clouds during a VFR flight can happen much quicker than you think and he pointed out that VFR pilots will probably have a hard time maintaining a straight and level flight unless they are flying on autopilot. Moreover, any climbing or descending through a cloud layer can turn out to be a bad idea as there is always the possibility of colliding with another aircraft or with terrain.
Pilot Mistake #2: IFR special – descent below minimums. Vincent noted that the first rule of IFR is to never descend below the minimum altitude as well as to avoid the lost of visual contact with the runway environment by missing approach points. However, he also noted that every year a pilot will descend below the minimums without having visual contact. Hence, Vincent wrote that no matter how much pressure you are under to land, to not go below minimums as you don’t want to find out the hard way what the actual difference is between minimums and any terrain or obstacle below them.
Pilot Mistake #3: Overweight – out of balance. Vincent wrote that while you can probably take off with a few extra kilos of load above any published maximums, doing so can seriously reduce your take-off and climb performance. Moreover, high temperatures can further increase your chances of having a fatal accident while not paying attention to your aircraft’s center of gravity can cause an aircraft to become unstable and un-flyable. In fact, Vincent added that:
I’ve experienced take-offs at the very limits of the weight and balance envelope in different aircraft. None of them has been enjoyable, and the following climbs ranged from scary to shameful.
At the end of his post, Vincent asked his readers to comment on their experiences – specifically what mistakes they have done and what aviation rules they respect the most. Hence, we would also love to hear your comments and thoughts as well.