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

I don’t fly gliders, but throughout the video I was thinking “and here’s where I’d turn right… and again, go right… now I’d make a 180 …”

Scary stuff.

1 Like

Just watched the video…
Ok. I knew what was about to happen, so I guess my threat and error management was triggered by that when I watched the beginning, thinking ”stay away from them clouds there, mate!” ”Don’t turn left”. But…if I was expecting to see just another happy glider video of some awesome ridge riding with some cloud surfing, I probably wouldn’t have reacted at all.
I remember back in flightschool, going on a trip with a classmate, who had some years of glider experience, before he started commercial training. I was at the controls of the Piper, swooping by some clouds, feeling happy and immortal, when my friend calmly asked: ”So, what would you do now if you lost the engine?”
I realized that I would have to descend through clouds and hope I came out below them in time to find a place to set down. Point taken! Easy, free lesson learned. Thanks!
It’s easy to think that flying is forgiving and harmless, just because you’ve been able to push the limits before and consistently too. But one day, lady luck is looking away…
So, as I have grown older, I am more reluctant to spending my margins. :wink:


Whenever I get brave enough to climb on top and have a look around up there i always get intensely nervous. I have to have at least one solid risk free escape route or at least 2 or 3 very good options before I wander too far from the hole. I really do not enjoy that part of flying. Having my choices artificially limited by cloud is not fun. Its lovely and pretty when your up there of course but I think about the bad stuff too much to relax and enjoy the view.
I am very trusting of my instruments though and I feel that is one part of flying that “simming” has definitely helped with without question. However confident I might feel though, I don’t kid myself and pretend I wouldn’t come a cropper. I just don’t put myself in that position. I’m not enjoying it so what’s the point. But each to their own


Clouds look lovely but they are not. I remember from skydiving one evening it was a warm summers day and storms had been over the country. We jumped among some lovely tall clouds(probably about 3000 ft tall), but plenty of space to go between. As soon as you got close to the clouds(not even in them) you could feel the temperature drop, you got wet and the parachute got heavier.

Clouds are no fun… They must be extremely scary in gliders since you get no horizon reference from any instrument!


People also underestimate just how quickly air can move (and change direction) inside a cloud. It is possible to experience pretty extreme conditions in there, even in a rather harmless looking cumulus cloud. Same right next to a cloud, both above and to the sides.
And that’s even though everyone has learned it!
That graphic with the arrows pointing into and out of the cumulus.

Why isnt there a horizon ball in a glider? That would save your behind in such a situation.

Re. Sims, i have high hopes for the DCS weather rework. Its been almost a year since they posted that awesome wake turbulence tech demo vid. They are cooking up something over there, and while its taking its sweet time getting ready, it’s going to be awesome.


Maybe it has to do with electricity requirements?

1 Like

Yes, and often times a vacuum pump, it would make gliders very much less glidey. It’s also one of the reasons you are not supposed to go into clouds because there’s no equipment to navigate through it once inside.

1 Like

They make some pretty nifty little iPad mini AHRS displays these days that give a nice six-pack. Not sure how it would fit into the glider cockpit…but it would be a nice little bit of kit to have (not only for inadvertent IMC, but also for ADS-B tracking of nearby traffic)…


Ah yes, completely forgot about that, not a bad idea!

Yeah…I think some experimental class planes in the United States at least have actually used iPads as their “glass cockpit”. Pretty cool…and cheap…although probably not as robust in the certification sense…


Ah, didn’t consider that. Thanks! :smiley:

Haven’t watches that video, but if the horizon is based on the ipad accelerometer, it would show wings level in a 1G turn, wouldn’t it?

Is there enough data if you cross compare the accelerometer with GPS motion?

The iPhone’s level function which you can also see on the compass seems to not be affected completely. Tip your phone on an angle and sweep it in an arc - mine would seems to go +/-5° but not didn’t completely lose track of it’s angle and return to where it was when I stopped sweeping it.

Curious how that all works.

Phones usually use a gyro based on the magnetic field of the earth. That’s why they sometimes require a good jiggling to get a bearing if you start up a app that uses the sensor for the first time that session.

1 Like

If it only used the accelerometer, yes. Usually there’s angular acceleration sensors there as well but naturally those have integrative error, so they need the occasional fix. I think with GPS and a Kalman filter they can probably be pretty ok.


At least OK enough to not come out of the cloud inverted and nose down!


That’s all that matters. It doesn’t have to be certified, it just has to work well enough to keep you alive long enough to get out of IMC.


Meh, I’ve seen all kinds of equipment fail in pretty unexpected ways over the years. The point of certification is to make reasonably sure stuff doesn’t show you nonsense when you most need it. The rates and forces involved in this flight differ substantially from what 99% of use cases look like. :upside_down_face:

The problem with an attitude indicator is that if it doesn’t show correct information, when you need it the most, it will do more harm than good. A slowly drifting gyro has killed many pilots.

I just watched the video and saw the external AHRS unit. So, no, not the phone accelerometer.