Approximately 25 %* of all fatal General Aviation accidents are caused by non-instrument qualified pilots who make the decision to continue flying by Visual Flight Rules (VFR), into adverse weather,. When the visual horizon is lost, a pilot’s senses can be distorted and deceptive to the point that they can lose their sense of direction and become unable to determine the difference in up or down.
Minimum values of ceiling and visibility determine Visual Flight Rules. Visibility is how far the pilot can see, while ceiling refers to the maximum height a pilot can maintain under VFR, in respect to the ground.
In winter, the obvious freezing rain, falling snow, and even fog are perhaps the more commonly seen makers of IFR (instrument flight rules) weather that GA pilots should avoid. But remember that wind-blown snow can also create significant visual obstruction and impair visual navigation over an extended area.
Safety should always be priority one. Getting an in-depth weather briefing prior to flight is a good safe-pilot habit to have. If you have questions spend some time with your favorite flight instructor and make sure you understand the conditions you may face, and you are well aware of your piloting skills and proficiency levels.
Always plan ahead and think before you act so that the last entry in you logbook will not read, “continued flying VFR into adverse weather!”
*(Aviation Weather: Ac 00-6A by Federal Aviation Administration, chp 12, pg 125)