It has been fascinating to read the accounts on Morey’s IFRWEST site, and I think they bring up a larger point which hasn’t been represented here.
On the one hand, the trip-reports on that site are full of events and decisions that I would NEVER DREAM of undertaking myself. Deliberately flying into lenticular clouds. Laughing off “Scaremets” and warnings from the “Fright Service System.” Deliberately stalling the plane (a) in IMC (b) with ice. Read these things-- you’ll be amazed.
I’d never do this because-- I am a 400 hour pilot with 40 hours of “actual” IMC and I think that erring on the side of safety is the way I’ll get to be a 1000 hour pilot, and then more. When I got my IFR rating two years ago, I told a friend who is a former F-15 pilot that I was America’s newest instrument pilot. “Great,” he said. “Now your goal is to become America’s oldest instrument pilot” – ie, to survive the years.
On the other hand, the instructor who is deliberately encountering these hazards has flown 29,000 hours, and has taught for 15,000 hours, and presumably there is something he knows about perils in the air. My friend (and fellow Atlantic Monthly author) William Langeweische - the best current writer about flying, although he mainly writes about other things – has a chapter in his book ‘Inside the Sky’ about flying deliberately into huge, giant, plane-busting storms, or deliberately flying at extremely low altitude. Again, he presumably knows what he is doing. His father was, of couse, Wolfgang L, and William has been in planes since before he could talk. I have never flown on this kind of mission with William – but I would like to, and I now have become more interested in Field Morey’s adventures. There are circumstances in which you learn more about limits and risk-management by going with people who have been beyond the normal envelope – as long as you have reason to trust their judgment about what is actually dangerous. It seems to me that people like F. Morey and W. Lang. have earned trust of their judgment.
My proposal: that we retain contradictory-sounding principles in mind at the same time. People like me should NEVER stay around when the icing starts, or fly near a lenticular cloud, or take other such risks, if we are operating the plane ourselves. But at the same time, it’s not necessarily wrong for people with many decades’ more experience to expose students to calculated risk for instructional purpose, based on their judgment of when exactly the risk becomes unacceptable. That is, I would never fly like Field Morey on my own, but I can see the value of learning from someone like him.