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ATC guides VFR Cherokee in IMC through storm into Austin

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The pilot of a Piper Cherokee 140 (N141SW) is safely on the ground after relying on air traffic controllers to guide him to Austin's international airport through severe weather. Matt Cartwright said he was flying from New Orleans toward the Austin area when he notified controllers just before 12 p.m. that he could not see a landing point. Other arrivals were held up for 30 minutes... ( Mais...

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He said he wasn't worried, therein lies a problem...
Philip Clifton 5
Honestly, that's the part that concerns me the most. I've made bad decisions in the air; I'm sure we all have. But I can't help but read a sort of shrugging indifference into his "not worried" comment.
Yup. I'd say you got to the root of the situation.
preacher1 9
Personally, seeing as he flies regular on business, and has his own plane, he needs to push ahead for an Instrument rating. I never seen perfect VFR all the time across a flight path
He doesn't need one. He just gets help when the occasion arises. Lol
Gene Nowak 2
Agreed preacher. When I completed my first practice PAR approach under the hood at a military base and you hear, "on center line, 10 feet above the runway", then, "5 feet above the runway; take over visually," you develop a huge respect for that controller, know it is available when needed and get a boost in confidence to finish your IFR rating.
preacher1 3
Well, I can be sympathetic in one regard but I have to look at the other comments above here and in looking at them, he doesn't deserve any sympathy; it is either stupidity or arrogance feeling pretty sure he'll get it in. Austin is not a little bitty field anymore and he inconvenienced a whole bunch of people to get his way. Not that his Cherokee is any less important than a mad dog holding for him but the mad dog pilot is fully qualified.
dee9bee 1
I wouldn't worry, I bet there's a certified letter from Oklahoma City in the mail as we speak...
He probably won't get the same forgiveness as Kathleen Sibelius. Lol
Jim Maxwell 1
Yeah, I hope there was just something lost in the reporting. Like he was very worried about keeping the plane under control once he started descending into the clouds, but trusted ATC would maneuver him in a safe way that minimized the chances losing it.
sparkie624 9
The guy got in trouble.. Asked for help, help was given... All is ok... I remember along time ago on a solo flight where my instructor and the FAA said there was no chance of weather. It was a beautiful day... I was making a 5 hour solo... On the last leg back home, I got boxed in with thunderstorms while flying a Beech Sundowner (IFR Equipped, and I knew the equipment, but not certified). I asked the Radar Controller and he got me in... I am glad he was there to help, as I am glad this guy did the same... No Harm, No Fowl, and better yet, No Deaths.
Samuel Nay 9
I think he was responsible when he called uncle and asked for help rather than getting further into trouble like so many pilots end up doing!!
Daniel Baker 7
My favorite part of the story is "Cartwright, who was returning home from a business trip, said he wasn't worried about his safety thanks to the controllers' directions."
Greg77FA 13
We are all armchair critics when we comment at our desks. He should, could and would have. He at least swallowed his pride and asked, rather than put another hole in the ground.
preacher1 1
mike SUT 5
"gethomeitis". Take a look at his track and you can see plenty of opportunity to put the aircraft down before putting himself into a situation where he has to be saved. Meanwhile, in a different part of the same sky, other aircraft are forced to eat into their reserves holding for this guy. Best part of the article was he didn't seem worried about the predicament he got himself into. This guy emptied his bucket of luck and poured it into his bucket of stupid. To the brim. With over 23000 hours and 44 years behind me, I have no sympathy. He got lucky.
preacher1 1
I can agree with Sparkie and mike SUT, it is one thing to get boxed in quick and need help; we have probably all been there at one time or other. On the other hand he had a whole wad of fields to put down at and wx should have been evident well before he got to Austin. The controllers did a good job and are to be commended but he needs to get the dumb ass of the year award and as one comment said, there'll probably be a certified letter coming to him, if not already there.
Jeff Lawson 4
ATC recording :
Daniel Baker 3
That actually ends early, here's part two:
Jeff Lawson 3
There's a little bit more info about the aircraft and the flight conditions here:

Everyone needs to be responsible about checking the weather forecasts and avoiding flight in conditions beyond their abilities.
Jeff Lawson 3
Flight track for N141SW --
frankvh 2
Bravo Zulu to these two controllers! I think we know where one of this year's Archies is going.
Boatinman 2
This is why we can't be lowering the standards for ATC. Read up on what the FAA did for this most recent batch of hiring. They lowered the score you need on the aptitude test to get to OKC.
J Kelly Strader 2
A look at any weather map for Sunday in Texas would have shown that there was a slow moving front crossing the area of this person's flight path. An easy way to determine that would just to look at the temperature at any of the airports along the path. There was a good 30 degree temperature drop once the front passed. KCLL would have been a good one to look at. Several GA planes in Texas have gone down in fronts in the last couple of years. If he was trying to fly in behind the front, then he should have headed north as an alternate, but he asked for alternates (Lockhart) That were south of Austin. If he had waited a couple more hours to leave Baton Rouge, it would have been all VFR with pretty flying weather.
preacher1 1
On top of all that, regardless of what he told the press, he was probably griping under his breath because the vectored him into KAUS instead of KEDC where he was planning to go.
Tim Duggan 1
LOL, preacher!!

Well, there isn't a PAR procedure at KEDC...oh, not at KAUS either, but at least there are Localizers depicted on the 'scope, for lateral guidance. So an ASR approach improvised?

Luckily this non-instrument rated pilot wasn't encountering very rough and windy weather, with the chances of vertigo being the result.
preacher1 2
Well, taking it to the letter, whether you call it that or not is pretty much what they did, bringing him out at about 300'. Don't know if that was his DH or not but I think the story said that is where he broke out. As he was not instrument rated, it really didn't matter; they got him down. One good thing, if there was one, he was at KAUS. They should have held him on the ground after landing and then turned him loose in one of the crew lounges so he could have personally met those big iron guys that he delayed. Pilots will help anyone as most folks would, but you just don't have that feel good about it when you get an ignorant/arrogant a** like this guy. We may have all misinterpreted his response but I don't think so.
Haz Shafi 1
I live near Lakeway airport and near the landing path to runway 34. When I heard a single engine airplane flying low near us, I told my wife that flying in the weather that we were having (thunderstorms in icy conditions) was the definition of insanity. I'm a low time PPL ASEL and you couldn't pay me enough to fly in that, even if it were legal. Kudos to ATC for helping out and I'm so glad that things worked out. The forecast was pretty ominous, so this must've been a case of get-home-itis...
Rob Kemperman 1
Just a good decision to ask for an assist when unsure, whatever the reasson. It saves lives in the air and un the ground.
Alan Jacobson 1
Everybody is a monday morning quarterback and has all the answers. Like the Indian expression goes, till you walked a mile in someone else's moccasins, don't comment on their path. On a simple ferry flight from Tampa into Jacksonville, two things went wrong that were unpredictable and thats what training is for.

Three quarters of the way there we had a unique and unpredictable weather scenario. A late day sundown temperature inversion like flying in dust, nothing in the briefings, not too common, and visibility went dark grey. To add to the fun two loose screws our mechanic had not properly tightened loosed even further. They were the screws that affixed the bus bar for the electronics. Just never tightened right and vibration did the rest. Everything went dead.

I am in the soup, nothing is working, and I had to call for help on my portable (I am a big fan of redundancy and love my portable radios and even had a backup antenna and cable installed). Worked perfect and back to primary instruments.

I had been on with Jacksonville, flight following, stated my situation, they could still tag or follow me, and happy to lend assistance even with the transponder failing. Very professional, I had to do a procedural 2 min turn to keep me tracked, I received headings, speed and altitude changes, and as he said slow descents, slow turns, and finally saw the rabbit. I thanked the controllers, luckily it was a slow period and they appreciated the chance to practice a blind approach.

When something is written for an experience that has a happy ending we praise those who helped us and maybe some of what he had to say is really extra praise for the controllers and the system that gets misinterpreted as arrogance or bravado. The bad endings don't matter as usually someone else is telling the story.

Those are the shoes you don't want to wear.... happy ending is a lesson in learning, the other kind is failure...
Barry McCollom 1
All of the airliners that were forced to hold for this guy - they should send him their fuel bill for digging into their reserve fuel. Not to mention all of the delayed flights, missed connections, missed business meetings, passenger issues, etc.


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