IMC Club – Why Get Involved?

By Radek Wyrzykowski

January 20, 2016 – As most of you probably know by now, as of November 2015 the IMC Club became a part of the Experimental Aircraft Association. In the weeks after the integration I started to receive countless e-mails congratulating me on the integration and on how I was able to take this organization formed in 2010 from nothing to where it is now. While the idea may have been mine, the success would not have been possible without everybody involved. What I am trying to say here is the success belongs to all of us, or better yet, it belongs to all of you: our members, friends, donors, volunteers, and chapter leaders! Thank you!

I am sure I don’t need to stress the importance of proficiency in aviation. We all know it is not only necessary but it is also the crucial and critical aspect of anything that we do in life. We can learn engineering or how to speak a foreign language. Implementation and a real life practical use of it is what is going to make it usable.

The IMC Club concept was born years ago when I had completed my first solo instrument flight in actual IMC. It happened the day after I got my instrument rating. It was then that I realized that I was not really ready for that experience; in a total contrast to what my FAA certificate said. My realization brought me to the conclusion that the training, and minimum knowledge required by the government have nothing to do with my safety and skill. Practical knowledge is what will make someone a good and safe pilot but it will only come with experience.

Since that first instrument flight for years I had “suffered in silence,” systematically and patiently gaining my experience by dipping in clouds whenever I could. In the process I discovered that I like to challenge myself and be the best I can be for my own satisfaction. Becoming a CFI, and eventually a chief flight instructor, finally gave me an opportunity to start passing my passion and practical knowledge to other pilots and flight instructors.

As much as it’s needed and necessary, no government regulation or FAA mandated training will ever make you a safer pilot. Why is it, then, that we obsess over what is required instead of taking care of what is necessary? We can and should self-regulate our experience, leaving all FAA minimums well below of what our own standards should be. When you arrive with your car at a stop sign intersection, do you stop because you have to or to see if there are other cars in your path? What would you do if one day the stop sign was stolen? Would you still stop? Or would you keep going, endangering your life because the regulation is missing?

Too often after reading in NTSB reports about someone who crashed we rush to judgment. We criticize, trying to blame the pilot for what we call: a “stupid decision.” Most accidents when they happen are the final result of a chain of simply wrong decisions. At the point of the accident, which usually takes just a few seconds, they are most of the time irreversible. We all make mistakes and most of us are lucky to be able to recognize and stop them at the onset. Some of us are simply lucky and the situation resolves itself with a positive outcome. There is no pilot who would wake up in the morning and say: today I want to do “something stupid” and crash. And yet we still do it. I strongly believe we not only have an obligation, but we have a responsibility to let others learn from our mistakes. After all, good judgment comes from experience – experience comes from a bad judgment!

Some people say that 90 percent of learning is gained after we graduate from any training or school. So think of this program (EAA/IMC Club) as your opportunity to be able to bring that 90 percent of practical knowledge to the table. It could be 9,000 hours, 900 hours or just 0.9 hours. You will be surprised how much you can help and in the process learn from others. We want you to want to be a better pilot not simply tell you that you have to be one. And we want you to enjoy the process. While flying is and can be used for transportation, flying is definitely more fun than just travel. As pilots we know that our enjoyment is simply being in the air.

IMC Club provides organized “hangar flying” focused on building proficiency in instrument flying. It’s the only organization of its kind. Believing that safety and proficiency are developed through experience our monthly meetings use real world scenarios to engage our members and allow them to share and build their experience.

There is no cost to EAA members to join this movement. Check if there is an IMC Club at your local EAA chapter and get involved. If there is not one, ask them for it!

If you live in the vicinity of the Reno Airport (KRNO) the IMC Club associated with EAA Chapter 1361 meets on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 6 pm in the upstairs conference room of Atlantic Aviation. Come out and join the discussion!

EAA Chapter 1361 general membership gatherings are on the first Thursday of the month at 6 pm in room 207 of the Reno-Stead Airport Terminal.