|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : san|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 5000|
msl bound upper : 9500
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : san|
|Operator||general aviation : instructional|
|Make Model Name||Small Aircraft, Low Wing, 1 Eng, Fixed Gear|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Function||oversight : pic|
|Qualification||pilot : private|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 132|
flight time total : 132
flight time type : 22
|Function||other personnel other|
|Qualification||pilot : private|
|Anomaly||inflight encounter : weather|
inflight encounter : vfr in imc
non adherence : far
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||flight crew : exited adverse environment|
none taken : anomaly accepted
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||Pilot Deviation|
We were, as students in professional pilot program, building x-country time and intended a flight from psp to san diego montgomery field. The WX briefing was misinterpreted and we read sufficient ceilings and visibilities at the destination. Navigating via the thermal and julian vors at 8500' we could see a cloud layer in front of us, so we climbed to 10500' instead. We did not have contact to ARTCC due to high workload. Further west towards the julian VOR we saw, that the layer was about to become more concrete and we decided to descend VFR to an altitude below the clouds, which we were able to, but later the terrain clearance became insufficient and the ceiling too low, so we deviated from our original course to the south and flew on a v-arwy west to san diego and contacted approach. They gave us a squawk code and cleared us to the TCA. Further west the ceiling became lower and the mountains higher, so we had to fly in between the mountains in order to avoid getting into the clouds, that still had some bigger holes. Suddenly approach called up, said 'radar contact lost, squawk 1200, clear of the TCA.' we repeated our intention to go to montgomery field but approach only said the same again. We could in the meantime no longer maintain sufficiently clear of the clouds, so we found ourselves caught in a valley, in an unfamiliar area and asked approach for a clearance to climb VFR in between the clouds to VFR on top, which they denied, because we did not (and could not) file IFR. So we found a distinctive terrain feature, made sure that we were clear of the TCA, found a hole and began circling in between the clouds upwards to the altitude, where we anticipated that the clouds would end. On the way up, ATC called us up, gave us a new transponder code and asked us to climb VFR to 9500' on a north easterly heading. We flew in between the clouds and suddenly entered one. When we found ourselves in instrument conditions, I as the PIC decided not to turn around, because our heading indicator was out and I was not familiar enough with timed or compass turns. So we applied full carburetor heat and got a climb rate of 3-400 FPM. Once the stall warning sounded twice, I pitched down and recovered. Later ATC advised us about traffic 12 O'clock, a couple of mi away and on the same heading. We just acknowledged and went on until we after 5-10 mins in the clouds came out of them on top. We continued VFR at 9500' eastbound, advised FSS of our new destination (imperial airport) and descended as the clouds disappeared further to the east. We never told ATC about being in IFR conditions as VFR pilots and we never asked for help as we considered ourselves being caught underneath the clouds in a valley. We also found out, that we have read the printed WX briefing wrongly in palm springs. And on the way to san diego it never came into our minds, that we maybe better should cancel our flight to san diego and fly elsewhere instead.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: GA SMA VFR IN IMC AS STUDENT PLTS TRY TO CONTINUE A CROSS-COUNTRY FLT TO GAIN FLT TIME.
Narrative: WE WERE, AS STUDENTS IN PROFESSIONAL PLT PROGRAM, BUILDING X-COUNTRY TIME AND INTENDED A FLT FROM PSP TO SAN DIEGO MONTGOMERY FIELD. THE WX BRIEFING WAS MISINTERPRETED AND WE READ SUFFICIENT CEILINGS AND VISIBILITIES AT THE DEST. NAVIGATING VIA THE THERMAL AND JULIAN VORS AT 8500' WE COULD SEE A CLOUD LAYER IN FRONT OF US, SO WE CLBED TO 10500' INSTEAD. WE DID NOT HAVE CONTACT TO ARTCC DUE TO HIGH WORKLOAD. FURTHER W TOWARDS THE JULIAN VOR WE SAW, THAT THE LAYER WAS ABOUT TO BECOME MORE CONCRETE AND WE DECIDED TO DSND VFR TO AN ALT BELOW THE CLOUDS, WHICH WE WERE ABLE TO, BUT LATER THE TERRAIN CLRNC BECAME INSUFFICIENT AND THE CEILING TOO LOW, SO WE DEVIATED FROM OUR ORIGINAL COURSE TO THE S AND FLEW ON A V-ARWY W TO SAN DIEGO AND CONTACTED APCH. THEY GAVE US A SQUAWK CODE AND CLRED US TO THE TCA. FURTHER W THE CEILING BECAME LOWER AND THE MOUNTAINS HIGHER, SO WE HAD TO FLY IN BTWN THE MOUNTAINS IN ORDER TO AVOID GETTING INTO THE CLOUDS, THAT STILL HAD SOME BIGGER HOLES. SUDDENLY APCH CALLED UP, SAID 'RADAR CONTACT LOST, SQUAWK 1200, CLR OF THE TCA.' WE REPEATED OUR INTENTION TO GO TO MONTGOMERY FIELD BUT APCH ONLY SAID THE SAME AGAIN. WE COULD IN THE MEANTIME NO LONGER MAINTAIN SUFFICIENTLY CLR OF THE CLOUDS, SO WE FOUND OURSELVES CAUGHT IN A VALLEY, IN AN UNFAMILIAR AREA AND ASKED APCH FOR A CLRNC TO CLB VFR IN BTWN THE CLOUDS TO VFR ON TOP, WHICH THEY DENIED, BECAUSE WE DID NOT (AND COULD NOT) FILE IFR. SO WE FOUND A DISTINCTIVE TERRAIN FEATURE, MADE SURE THAT WE WERE CLR OF THE TCA, FOUND A HOLE AND BEGAN CIRCLING IN BTWN THE CLOUDS UPWARDS TO THE ALT, WHERE WE ANTICIPATED THAT THE CLOUDS WOULD END. ON THE WAY UP, ATC CALLED US UP, GAVE US A NEW XPONDER CODE AND ASKED US TO CLB VFR TO 9500' ON A N EASTERLY HDG. WE FLEW IN BTWN THE CLOUDS AND SUDDENLY ENTERED ONE. WHEN WE FOUND OURSELVES IN INSTRUMENT CONDITIONS, I AS THE PIC DECIDED NOT TO TURN AROUND, BECAUSE OUR HDG INDICATOR WAS OUT AND I WAS NOT FAMILIAR ENOUGH WITH TIMED OR COMPASS TURNS. SO WE APPLIED FULL CARB HEAT AND GOT A CLB RATE OF 3-400 FPM. ONCE THE STALL WARNING SOUNDED TWICE, I PITCHED DOWN AND RECOVERED. LATER ATC ADVISED US ABOUT TFC 12 O'CLOCK, A COUPLE OF MI AWAY AND ON THE SAME HDG. WE JUST ACKNOWLEDGED AND WENT ON UNTIL WE AFTER 5-10 MINS IN THE CLOUDS CAME OUT OF THEM ON TOP. WE CONTINUED VFR AT 9500' EBND, ADVISED FSS OF OUR NEW DEST (IMPERIAL ARPT) AND DSNDED AS THE CLOUDS DISAPPEARED FURTHER TO THE E. WE NEVER TOLD ATC ABOUT BEING IN IFR CONDITIONS AS VFR PLTS AND WE NEVER ASKED FOR HELP AS WE CONSIDERED OURSELVES BEING CAUGHT UNDERNEATH THE CLOUDS IN A VALLEY. WE ALSO FOUND OUT, THAT WE HAVE READ THE PRINTED WX BRIEFING WRONGLY IN PALM SPRINGS. AND ON THE WAY TO SAN DIEGO IT NEVER CAME INTO OUR MINDS, THAT WE MAYBE BETTER SHOULD CANCEL OUR FLT TO SAN DIEGO AND FLY ELSEWHERE INSTEAD.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.