Saturday, October 11, 2008

Payson - Coolidge - Chandler - Carefree / Beechcraft Baron 58 / VFR

Tonight's flights ended in tragedy, I'm afraid.

I took the Baron out for some nighttime VFR. First, I flew alone from Payson to Coolidge. The Baron is loaded with fancy avionics, including a luxurious ST3400 TAWS, so I figured I could safely carry out the flight despite the mountains and darkness. Sure enough, I arrived safely in Coolidge. From there, it was a very short hop to Chandler, which was uneventful. I picked up my virtual passengers in Chandler, and we set out for Sky Ranch at Carefree, a very tiny private airport. Unfortunately, I was too careless and confident by then. First, I busted the Bravo airspace over Phoenix on my departure from Chandler, although ATC didn't say anything. Then, in my zeal to get there quickly and avoid the Class B, I ignored the GPWS and then tried to turn to avoid a displayed conflict with the Superstition Mountains, but I hit the highest point of the Superstitions when my turn was too slow to avoid it. The last thing I saw was a dark silhouette growing in front of the windshield with terrifying speed, and then it was all over.

This was my first crash in quite some time. I just wasn't paying attention, and I put too much trust in the fancy gauges, and I was in a rush to arrive and very concerned about staying well clear of the Bravo, which was very crowded (there were many arrivals just a few thousand feet above my head, streaming into Sky Harbor). It wasn't pretty. Hopefully I wouldn't be so careless in real life; I'm pretty sure I would not, with so much more at stake. But it goes to show how complacent one can get.

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