Some pilots may believe that an instrument rating and a fair amount of flight time are good insurance against getting into a situation that results in losing aircraft control or exceeding an aircraft’s design stress limits. However, without a healthy amount of good preflight and in-flight judgment, along with recurrent training that includes partial panel work and unusual attitude recovery, those two things can set the stage for getting into trouble. The FAA’s requirements for instrument currency (doing six instrument approaches, holding procedures, and intercepting and tracking courses within the last six months) are less than comprehensive.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently completed its investigation into the in-flight breakups of two Beech Bonanzas. One was a V-tail S35 flown by an instrument-rated pilot with 3,200 hours. The other was a 36TC turbocharged Bonanza with a conventional tail, flown by an instrument-rated pilot who had 1,320 hours. The initial problems encountered were different, but the outcomes were the same.