Back in middle school I watched a film called Reading Writing and Reefer. It was a typical scare film made to discourage drug use. Before we watched it our seventh grade teacher told us that she was aware that some of the characters in the film were stereotypes and she didn’t expect us to believe their stories or recognize our peers. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure she was trying to distance herself from the propaganda she was being forced to press on our young brains.
I have an instrument rating. I started working on my instrument rating as soon as I could because my brother and I knew the statistics, that VFR flight into IMC conditions was the largest portion of the fatal accidents.
Most people that I talk to about being a pilot of a small plane mention JFK Jr. He should have had more instrument training before he attempted an evening flight over the ocean in hazy conditions. The above video is a tool to get pilots like JFK Jr. to learn their instruments, even if they don’t go all the way and get the instrument rating (which is a lot of work, difficult, and more work to keep current). The scenario described is exactly what happened to John John’s plane: a graveyard spiral entered when the pilot lost reference to the horizon and trusted his “feeling” of what the plane was doing rather than what the instruments were telling him.
According to NASA it is an exaggeration. A VFR pilot flying into IMC is usually upside down in less than a minute, so you don’t really have 178 seconds to live.