As a family physician, aviation medical examiner and active pilot with 28 years of flying experience, I have some understanding of the factors involved in this preventable accident. A review of my of log books brings to vivid recall my four encounters with the terrifying condition that resulted in this crash:
- February 26, 1975 - Student pilot. Entered snow squall with instrument conditions east of Pitt Meadows Airport. Solo, 30 hours total time, instrument time - nil. Inexperience with deterioration from VFR to IFR conditions.
- August 21, 1977 - Private pilot. Encountered instrument conditions in heavy rain east of Denman Island on flight from Comox to Pitt Meadows. 320 hours total time, instrument time - 13 hours (Hood). Wife and two daughters. “Gethomeitis” with rental aircraft. Marginal VFR
- July 17, 1978 - Private pilot. Inadvertently entered cloud over Bowen Island in VFR conditions on flight from Pitt Meadows to Comox. 390 hours total time, instrument time -24 hours (Hood). Wife and two daughters. Visual illusion of cloud proximity. Wife did not fly with me for the next 20 years!
- August 6, 1982 - Commercial pilot. Flew into a fogbank departing Ocean Shores, WA, for Newport, OR. 790 hours total time, instrument -32 hours (Hood). Flying partner with one child each. “Gethomeitis”.
In three of these situations, VFR conditions were forecast when IMC was encountered. After which aircraft control was in doubt if it existed at all. There is only one reason that I am on this side of the twilight zone to take pen to paper - blind unmitigated LUCK.I hope that other pilots can learn from my past errors as they may not get four kicks at the cat. - The American student had less than one.