In the November issue of Pilot I made reference to the fact that I flew over Lake Michigan on my way to Oshkosh in the sweepstakes Archer. Recently I received an e-mail from a member who felt what I did was foolhardy, displayed poor judgment, and was a “stunt.” The message got me thinking about what the risk really was and whether I had put myself and my passenger at risk and not properly exercised my position as PIC.
During the flight, I figured I was beyond gliding distance from shore for 10 miles. The Archer had less than 100 hours on a newly overhauled engine, it was summer VMC, and I had plenty of fuel. David Kenny, the statistician for ASF, ran some numbers and found that there were roughly 500 accidents and incidents last year in which the airplane quit producing thrust for one reason or another. Only 250 of those were evenly remotely attributed to mechanical error beyond the pilot’s control, and that is probably a stretch. (more…)