There are many misconceptions about so-called pilot error and much second guessing of pilots' decisions which have had fatal outcomes. The skill of a pilot may be questioned after the fact with no way to answer the question. The weather can change very quickly, much quicker than weather reports are updated. Sometimes the first a pilot knows the report is inaccurate is when he flies into the current conditions - which will appear on a future weather report. There is a time factor involved which is rarely considered in armchair critiques. Will a pilot have enough time to apply his adequate skill to avoid a disaster? If he does it becomes a "There I was... flat on my back... at 20000ft..." story. If he doesn't it becomes a "That will never happen to ME..." story - told by his surviving peers.
My aviation mentor told me about a scary flight he made, a flight of 2 F-86Hs on a very dark moonless night. The first a/c took off and my mentor followed a few moments later. Their intention was to formate before leaving the area, so #1 loitered until my mentor could pick him up and close. My mentor saw a light and called "I have you visual" and flew toward what he thought was a marker light. As he closed, he glanced at the altimeter and realized it was unwinding. Looking back at the light, he realized, with little time to spare, the light was on the back end of a train's observation car. He estimated elapsed time from seeing the light & establishing closing heading - noting altimeter - ID'ing train - pointing up away from the ground as between 5 and 7 seconds. He nearly became a statistic and went on to more than double his flight hours which at the time of this near-miss were over 8000. The point he was making with the story was that unless you have the time to do the right thing, it can still turn out badly. One can plan and train for encountering the unexpected, but arriving into the unexpected you may find you've overrun the time frame for the sequence of actions necessary to address the issue. Aviation accident final reports filed without eyewitness accounts always contain conjecture and the various alphabet agencies acknowledge this. It's neither fair nor accurate to pass judgement on a pilot's attitude for an outcome which may well have been the result of one single mistake at a critical, unrecoverable moment. If you've ever spun a car, you know what I'm talking about. You can slide, and slide, and slide, but if it gets past a certain point, it's going and you can't catch it. But had you been saying "That will never happen to ME"...?
Edited by 10kDA, 19 June 2021 - 12:25.