Almost Crash - Glider flies into IMC - What could happen if VMC pilot flies into IMC?

Looks pretty scary!! :open_mouth:


Inadvertently flying into IMC is the #1 reason for accidents in aviation IIRC.
Scary stuff.

Except of course, this doesn’t look very accidental… Not sure what they were thinking.

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I think the intention was to stay above the clouds and then fly through the next hole.
However there was no hole. So the glider descended through the cloud. And nasty stuff happens in clouds. And the ground was very close.

He should never have flown there.

What happened there is exactly the reason why flying like that is not permitted (at least here).


Jeebus Flipping Thrivst.

I have never had my stomach drop out from me so much as that video just caused me too.

I cannot believe those guys are alive. @Scoop did you watch it yet. Wow.


That was scarier than any horror movie I ever seen. Sheesh.


I’ve been sucked into cloud in a glider a couple of times - not dramatically, but seeing whisps, then suddenly in grey. Brakes out and a few moments later back in the blue, but its remarkable how quickly you lose all sense of up and down.

Years ago (decades I suppose) a Southern Cross Gilding Club member got caught by a southerly buster south of Sydney and spent some scary time being buffeted in the storm, only to emerge over the ocean! Luckily he found he wasn’t far from land and made an outlanding once he worked out where he was. He lost his licence if I recall correctly (no longer a member so I can’t access the story)…

The best story like this I heard was Ewa Wisnierska, a paraglider who got sucked into a storm in Australia in 2007 and spent several hours in the storm, most of it passed out, and topped out above 30,000 feet! Her GPS faithfully recorded it all.

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Here’s an old article that asks that same question:


Awful pit in the stomach feeling there. Due to the title…we knew what was going to happen. As such…the whole time I was wanting them to bail out to the right the whole time. Ugh.

@smokinhole - would it be correct to assume that glider distance to cloud requirements are the same as for VFR powered aircraft?

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In Germany they are allowed to go near them horizontally and climb to the cloud base, but not into the cloud. Cloud flying used to be allowed but was forbidden in the 1970s IIRC, because too many accidents happened.

It looks like they were disoriented more than once in that video…“Nose DOWN!” The amount of time that they descended from cruising to going through the clouds and right above the terrain was ridiculous. So lucky, but so stupid

Fudge me. Those guys very nearly made the news.

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I have a feeling they may still be in the news… :eyes:

You are right, actually…

Remind me to keep a good lookout of the skies above when I next drive through Manawatu region…might be raining gliders


The cloud clearance requirements are the same. But there is such a close relationship between cloud and pilot in a glider that is easy to get a bit cavalier about proximity. You want every foot of that precious elevator ride. (Plus, they’re pretty). Although I’d imagine that the pilot in the video thinks otherwise now.


I actually didn’t watch that video when I made the post above. I knew that it might interfere with some much needed sleep before work. It’s one thing to get cavalier with a cloud when thousands of feet above the deck. But those guys were working a ridge! They were hundreds of feet (at most) off the ridge. Holy smoked turkey! That was nuts!

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Yeah that blew my mind as well.
Descending through a cloud is not great already, but doing so over, or in the direction of a ridge borders on suicidal.
I mean: they presumably know the mountains are there, their elevation, and the glider’s altitude. What did they expect? That the cloud cover was paper thin?


I THINK they (and particularly the CFI) thought they were safe descending through. They seemed to have felt fine above until their hand was forced when they hit sink (as indicated by the low tone on the vario). What almost killed them was not the IMC conditions directly. It was the misfortune of hitting a very nasty rotor off the ridge. I have very little ridge experience but I have never in my flying ever encountered anything like that. It was the type of rotor you hear about when discussing wave, not ridge. I know they screwed up very badly. Insanely badly. But the airmanship shown at the bitter end was actually pretty darn good.

As a total aside: this is one area of flight sims that continues to frustrate me. Weather is everything in flying. Even combat flying. It isn’t just a visual feature of nature. It is very much a physical feature of nature. Condor (a soaring simulator) is better than most because it has to be. But even it could use some work.


Yeah they definitely saved themselves with a good amount of skill there.

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