AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 101

4 STEPS TO PURCHASING
subsequent reports of the crash, and the
fog, and the loss of control, and the inevitable finger pointing and shaking heads as
yet another air medical helicopter crashed,
with four fatalities. People talk about their
lives flashing in front of them. I could see
the headlines with my name in them.
My alternatives that night were limited, but they were available, if only I'd
used them. I could have left the team
with the patient, insisting that they use
the ground ambulance instead, and flown
home. I could have climbed and radioed
a distress call to any open air traffic control (ATC) resource. I could have landed
right away when I noticed the extent of
the fog. In other words, I had options; I
chose not to use them. Sadly, the patient
later died.
At the time, I was a member of the
Iowa National Guard, assigned as one of
the unit's instrument flight examiners. I
had many hours of weather time, so the
fog itself didn't elicit panic, or distract me
from the immediate task of flying the aircraft. Loss of control can happen within 30
seconds of inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions. Pilots
lacking the skills and confidence to fly on
instruments are naturally more vulnerable.
My instrument flying skills were
excellent. But the helicopter I was flying
that night wasn't equipped for instrument
flight. It had a single artificial horizon; a
crude turn and bank indicator; one generator that, fortunately, didn't fail; and no
GPS or night vision equipment like many
cockpits have now. So, the lack of proper
navigation equipment in that helicopter
added to my burden.
I was fortunate on that foggy night.
After landing, I literally kissed the helipad. The error chain in my flight in the
fog was one, assuming that weather would
hold; two, a false belief that the medical
team would expedite with the patient;
three, my haste with pre-takeoff preparations; four, a takeoff with no weather
report; five, a lack of orientation to obstacles in my flight path. 
AOPA
This article is excerpted from BYRON
EDGINGTON'S forthcoming book, Postflight:

An Old Pilot's Notes.

aopa.org/pilot AOPA PILOT | 101

YOUR

FIRST AIRCRAFT
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3

Apply and get
approved.

4

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Purchase.

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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 5
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover4
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