Never again on PE - share your mistakes

Unanticipated icing - lived, but still screwed up

Postby BradG » Mon Dec 07, 2020 8:56 am

[Copied over from Discord General chat]
Since I know there are a lot of RW pilots here, I thought I would share another stupid thing I did the other day on PE. Flight was from KONT to L35 - Big Bear. Using Zulu weather, with a cloud layer about 200' above minimums at L35. A/C was a Baron. Temp. at KONT was 53°F, with light rain, overcast 8500'. Cruise altitude was 11000'.

During the climb, OAT dropped to about 38°F at about 7000', so I turned on all anti-ice. Continued climb into clouds up to 11000. Proceeded direct to SOGGI, which is NE of L35, to put me in a position for the RNAV 26 Approach. About 35 miles from SOGGI, airspeed started to drop from 150KTS through 145KTS, and rate of airspeed drop was increasing pretty quickly. Declared an emergency, and ask for vectors and lower altitude immediately. All good so far. Of course, since I was on Zulu weather, the controller had no idea of my weather. The controller gave me an immediate decent to 10000, and a turn that would put me on an intercept for the RNAV approach at Big Bear. Makes sense.

BUT... I knew from what I saw during the climb that the temp at L35 on the ground was likely to be below freezing. So this is where I screwed up. I had filed an alternate of KAPV, Apple Valley, at a field elevation of 3,062, and a TPA of 4,062. I should have rejected the turn to the South into the mountains, and should have asked for a turn to the Northwest, where the terrain was much lower, with higher temperatures.
I knew this, but still accepted the vector to shoot the approach at L35, in freezing conditions, while continuing to pick up ice which was overwhelming the Barron's ice protection. And of course, landing with enough ice to drop the cruise speed to something like 135KTS means I had become a test pilot. How do you know what the stall speed of the aircraft is in that condition? No idea.

All turned out okay. Because of the descent, I was able to keep up airspeed. I also broke out of the hard rain as I was established on final, and stayed out of the rain all the way to the field. But it was a serious bone-head move, and IRL, it was a really serious encounter.

So there you go. I gave up my role as Pilot In Command to a controller who had no idea what I was dealing with, and accepted what he thought was the best alternative for me, but which actually could have gotten me killed. What is particularly frustrating for me is that I knew there was a much better alternative, but stayed quiet. Just dang.
Delighted to share another story showing just how ignorant I am. Sigh.

KevinMToday at 10:32 AM
As for your point about giving up your PIC roll to ATC- this is a GREAT point and it’s something that controllers and pilots need to understand. There’s a common misconception that controllers know a lot about flying and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, there are some controllers who are also pilots, but there are plenty of radar controllers who, visually, don’t know a 737 from a citation (not joking).
There have been a good amount of accidents in the past due to the pilot assuming too much knowledge from the controller. A great example is a pilot reporting their pitot tube is iced over. The controller should hopefully ask if he/she doesn’t understand the effect of that, but they might not...and because of that they might give you an instruction that’s not safe for your situation.

As a pilot, you need to be OVERLY communicative as to what your problem is and what you need. Use basic English: for instance, instead of “my pitot tune is iced over” say “I’ve lost my airspeed indicator and have no idea how fast im going” Because at the end of the day, you’d hate to leave information on the table that could have saved your life

BradGToday at 10:33 AM
Thanks @KevinM. I had a very good friend who was an F-106 pilot and later accrued about 25,000 hours flying for Eastern Airlines. He is actually the one who taught me to fly (I am so honored that he would take the time to teach me.). One point he drilled into me over and over was to make use of absolutely every resource you have available to fly the aircraft, especially in an emergency. It is very easy to forget that ATC is one of those resources, but as you point out very well, they can't help you if you first don't take command of your situation, and second, if you don't give them the information they need in order to help you.
For example, in this icing encounter, the controller knew instantly what the minimum altitudes were for any direction I wanted to fly. Since I was over mountains, but the terrain fell away rapidly to the North, if I had said, I need to get below 6000' ASAP, the controller could have given me a vector in a few seconds. But of course, I did not do that.

KevinMToday at 10:42 AM
Absolutely! And adding to my common misconception point, it goes both ways. ATC needs to remember that the pilot generally has no clue what ATC does and what they can and cannot see. This is especially prevalent with weather. For instance, controllers only see precipitation. They won’t see mean looking clouds, strong wind gusts, etc... further, a center controllers only depicts a minimum of moderate precipitation on the radar, so anything less than moderate will look like a beautiful day on the center controller’s radar. Finally, the weather data can be up to 7 minutes old on the controller’s radar. For all of those reasons, never rely on ATC alone to tell you where the weather is, how we they’ll usually have a better overall picture than you might

BradGToday at 10:47 AM
@KevinM the one thing I will say I did right in this scenario, and that I would encourage others to remember, is that I declared an emergency early. Once I saw the speed had dropped to 145KTS, I was already double-checking that ice protection was on and working (check your ammeter, etc.). As soon as I saw everything was on and working, I called the emergency. Don't wait. One problem I have heard about is waiting to call an emergency thinking that somehow things are going to get better. Usually they won't, and asking for help doesn't come with any negative consequences.
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Re: Never again on PE - share your mistakes

Postby RonCraighead » Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:14 pm

Okay... Mea Culpa time.

I keep my sim running for extended periods. It's a dedicated sim.

I had connected to the network, got called away... Then hopped in to fly. Not on the network, just tinkering with some settings.

Took off from KSEE, and saw some traffic. I thought, "What's he doing up here?". Then it hit me. I quickly disconnected.

OOPS.

Sorry guys!

Cheers

Ron
Ron Craighead
VFR and IFR Pilot, High Performance and Complex Endorsement (AT-6 Texan), Tailwheel Endorsement (Cessna 170), Spin Endorsement (Great Lakes) and survived some acro!
FAA Advanced Ground Instructor, Instrument Ground Instructor.
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Re: Never again on PE - share your mistakes

Postby billh1 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:27 pm

Newbie here, SIM pilot (not real manned aircraft), and brand new to PE. I got scolded already - for making my traffic calls on the Guard frequency.

Now I check the frequency every time, and make sure I have the right radio selected, before pressing the Talk button. :oops:
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Re: Never again on PE - share your mistakes

Postby Keith Smith » Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:40 pm

I promise that you're not the first pilot to ever hear "you're on Guard!"

To make life easy, I tend to only use COM2 for RX COM1 for TX/RX. That way, guard and ATIS generally go on COM2 with that flow. The few times I've "gotten smart" and tried to set up a more complex sequence with COM1 and COM2, I invariably end up xmitting on the wrong radio.
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