Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research





Key words

Decision-making, VFR-into-IMC, Experiential Education


In aviation, safety is always a primary consideration, and this is especially true during a pilot’s flight training to instill that safety mentality. However, this means that pilots are restricted by safety policies from encountering difficult weather situations during their training, which could, potentially, improve their weather decision-making skills for avoiding future hazardous weather encounters. Thirty-six general aviation pilots of varying instrument flight experience (IF) were allocated, using stratified random sampling based on their IF, to one of three groups, a control group and two educational treatment intervention groups. The educational treatment interventions were designed to improve the participant’s ability in recognizing deteriorating weather (reducing visibility) conditions, to prevent flying from visual flight rules (VFR) into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) by the use of experiential education. Intervention one was web-based only and intervention two was web and personal computer (PC) simulator based. Each pilot flew a simulated flight along a fjord in Alaska under visual flight rules in deteriorating visual weather that became instrument conditions. Type of intervention and experience-related demographic factors were analyzed to determine what factors contributed to safe weather-related decisions. Type of educational treatment intervention was found to be the only statistically significant demographic predictor of safe performance. Pilots who received the web-based only intervention were better able to assess deteriorating visibility and avoid instrument weather. Implications of this study and opportunities for future research are discussed.

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