When I learned flying, my flight instructor often used to tell me – it is better to be on land, than to be in air and wishing to be on land.
Some airmen learn this rule the hard way.
A flight instructor and a student pilot in Zionsville, Indiana suffered minor injuries as they learned this rule the hard way.
The thunderstorms were there at the northwest of the airport.
Lightning was reported in the vicinity of the airport by the automated weather equipment.
My Flight Instructor at the Controls
The flight instructor still decided to take the instructional flight, although he remained in the traffic pattern.
The flight took off and the student pilot was at the controls.
They had only climbed the downwind leg and the storm along with heavy rain was much closer than the two airmen had expected.
The flight instructor asked the student pilot to reduce power and descend as he noted that they were 300 feet above pattern altitude.
To his surprise, the airplane was not descending, even though throttle was on idle. Heavy rain is not without windshear, bringing strong updrafts and downdrafts.
As the plane turned on base leg, the airmen were surprised further as they saw a corporate jet at the end of the runway executing a go-around.
Things got worse for the flight instructor when he glanced at the primary flight display which showed the airplane was going down at the rate of 1,500 feet per minute.
Fearing the worst, the flight instructor, with full power and a climb attitude, chose to conduct a go-around.
He turned the plane towards southeast, trying the escape the storm.
Unfortunately, time and luck were not his side.
Later on, the flight instructor explained that they encountered heavy rain as the plane was around 200 feet above ground level.
The visibility had reduced to almost 0.
Just moments before the airplane impacted a plowed field, he heard ‘pull up’ from the student pilot.
No mechanical failure or malfunction was reported in the airplane before impact.
Lesson and Probable Cause:
Improper judgement from the flight instructor leads to an impact during go-around. Lesson is – we should never try to brave the weather or take chances with it.