The difference between a safe pilot and one with an enhanced chance of becoming an accident statistic often is found in the ability to detach oneself from the emotional and social aspects of flying. Have you properly planned for the flight or will you be playing catch-up once you get off the ground? Are your qualifications and experience sufficient for the expected flight conditions? Are you being unduly optimistic in interpreting reported changes in the weather? Have you made promises that you’re reluctant to break to prospective passengers or folks who are waiting to see you at the destination? Will you interpret flight cancellation as a reflection upon your sensibilities as a pilot or as a defeat for your ego?
The NTSB recently completed its investigation of an accident in which the pilot and passengers had spent at least eight hours waiting at the airport in hopes that the weather would clear. Although the reported weather at several ground observation stations in the departure area was VFR, the pilot knew that conditions were spotty and that only a brief heading and/or altitude deviation could lead him into the “soup.”