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Analysis

Summary

Witness reports indicate that the pilot had established the aircraft below the cloud layer some distance from Jerilderie. The most likely reason for this was in order to make a visual approach to Jerilderie. However, in the area of the cold front, instrument meteorological conditions extended from the base of the cloud layer to the ground. With visibility rapidly reducing, the pilot had the option of continuing straight ahead and climbing in instrument meteorological conditions to the lower safe altitude of 3,300 ft, or turning back to remain in visual conditions. The pilot initiated a left turn and entered instrument meteorological conditions close to the ground. The turn would have required the pilot to fly with sole reference to flight instruments. The transition from visual flight to flight by sole reference to instruments may take several seconds, and an aircraft in a turn will generally loose altitude until the pilot takes corrective action. However, as the aircraft was at low altitude when it began the turn, it probably struck the ground before the pilot had completed his transition to instrument flight.

Although the pilot held an instrument rating, he had minimal experience of flight in actual instrument meteorological conditions. He may not have experienced the conditions that confronted him on this occasion. The combination of rapidly deteriorating weather, gusting winds and low altitude in conjunction with low experience and recency with actual flight in instrument meteorological conditions, would have required a high level of skill and experience.

 
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