Jayde M. King

Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Human Factors


College of Arts & Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Beth Blickensderfer, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Dr. Joseph R. Keebler, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Dr. Barbara S. Chaparro, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Dr. Thomas Guinn, Ph.D.


Low hour, inexperienced General Aviation (GA) pilots account for the majority of weather-related incidents, which often result in fatalities. Previous research identifies poor preflight planning practices and a lack of aviation weather knowledge as key contributing factors to the high novice private pilot accident and fatality rate. Research invested into resolving these issues often attempt to introduce new inflight weather technology to assist pilots with weather avoidance. However, these interventions usually result in pilots using the information to strategically navigate closer to degraded weather conditions (Beringer & Ball, 2004; Burgess & Thomas, 2004). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a performance support tool for weather preflight (PWDST) on pilots’ preflight performance and inflight performance. Seventy-eight private pilots (Mage = 20.15, SD = 2.56) without instrument ratings were recruited from a Southeastern US university. Forty-one visual flight rule (VFR) private pilots were randomly assigned to the control group (no preflight decision tool) and 37 VFR private pilots were assigned to the experimental group (preflight decision tool). Participants performed a weather preflight and a simulated flight for one VFR into instrument meteorological conditions scenario (i.e., VFR to IMC). Results indicated that participants in the PWDST condition examined significantly more weather products and reported higher weather awareness following the preflight activities than did participants in the control group. Furthermore, results also indicated that participants in the PWDST condition spent significantly less time in IMC than participants in the control condition. Additionally, results revealed that preflight decision-making was predicted by preflight performance and inflight decision-making was predicted by pilots’ awareness of weather inflight.