We’ve had this conversation before so the blog will be mercifully short this week. Within the space of just a few days three accidents hit the national consciousness, if there is such a thing. First was the midair collision right here in Frederick, Maryland, followed by a Beechcraft King Air managing to find its way into a FlightSafety International’s simulator bay at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport in Kansas, and finally, Spaceship II suffering a catastrophic in-flight failure.
Is there a thread here—something in the water—a bad moon a rising?
No. The only commonality is that all these tragedies involved loss of life and aeronautical machinery. Each situation is different, and yet each will be shown to have a chain of events that, in retrospect, could have been prevented. That’s the armchair quarterbacking of safety people and attorneys—the usual suspects.
But what can we take away from these horrible crashes even early in the investigations? Reminder for me is to take nothing for granted. That’s really hard to do, especially when everything pretty much always works. In each case there were prior successes to buoy confidence.
How many times have you had traffic called and never seen it, but it missed you? How many times have you taken off successfully? We do these things all the time and get away with it probably out to four places to the right of the decimal point.
Spaceship II is a different deal. They really are on the cutting edge and sometimes stuff doesn’t work. Our aeronautical history is full of such events when very brave people attempt to move us forward.
As you go about your flying activities be mindful of distraction. Multi-tasking can be a big problem in aircraft. Complacency is another really bad actor. No need to re-whip these horses, but rather redouble the efforts to enjoy one of the greatest privileges known—the ability to fly.
We never defy gravity or cheat death despite the popular sayings to the contrary…when we’re safely back on the ground. Coexisting with powerful forces that never take a day off means we get no time off either when flying.