Pop Quiz Part III

Sun Oct 19, 2003 1:46 pm

Here's one for the pilots...

When scud running, why is it that a pilot often is deceived into believing that the weather ahead of the airplane usually is better than the weather behind?
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 11:10 am

RE: Pop Quiz Part III

Mon Oct 20, 2003 6:41 am

Well, nobody has replied yet so I figured I would. I can't exactly say I know the answer...never been involved in scud running and never plan on being, nor do I know too much about it. Really would like to know the answer to this one though, it seems like it'll be something quite interesting. The only guess I have is the whole "the grass is greener on the other side" type idea along with some good old fashioned "things will get better, they couldn't be as bad as what I've already been through."
Posts: 532
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2001 7:09 am

RE: Pop Quiz Part III

Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:01 am

I'll take a stab:

It's probably two reasons:
-Expectations, like what Flyf15 said. 'It'll clear up just ahead'

-You're getting closer to the objects in front of you. As you do, they come into view, while objects behind you are dissapearing.
A normal tendency would be to continue in the direction in which things are 'appearing' (ahead), instead of doing what you SHOULD do: turn around and go where things are 'disappearing'.

RE: Pop Quiz Part III

Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:30 am

Well done. I was typing my reply while you were posting your answer. When looking aft, ground objects disappear in the veil of reduced visibility, creating the illusion of worsening visibility. When looking ahead, conditions seem to be improving because forward motion causes progressively more terrain to come into view.

When you go through the accident reports you'll find one phrase in a significant percentage of them - "Continued VFR into IFR conditions". The average life span of a VFR or unprepared IFR pilot (and their passengers) when suddenly and unexpectedly placed in actual IFR conditions can be measured in minutes and precious few of them at that. It's very easy to say that "I would never scud run", but when faced with unexpected weather and a need to be somewhere else ("Gethomeitis") you can find yourself rationalizing many things if you're not extremely disciplined. I would dare say that this has been the undoing of thousands of pilots over the years. I personally have known 3 or 4 pilots who were involved in fatal accidents involving scud running and I am positive that each and every one of them had said that same thing to themselves.

A similiar principle affects us professional guys in our turbine-powered aircraft as well. For us, it's the attenuation of our weather radar caused by precipitation. If we allow ourselves to get "boxed in" an area of heavy precipitation, attenuation can cause us to head directly for the worst part of the storm. If we aren't aware of the shadowing effects of heavy percipitation we can be duped into believing what the radar is incorectly showing us - that the quickest way through a line of weather is through the area of a "radar shadow" and this will send you directly into the area of heaviest precipitation. This has caused several airline accidents and cost many lives over the past 30 or 40 years. Oh well, enough of that. I'll get off of my soapbox.


[Edited 2003-10-20 00:33:03]

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