I always cringe a little when a holiday weekend comes along. It’s good that people are out flying but it also means that the accident potential goes up. Pilots are destination oriented and they want to get to where they want to get to. The highlights of last week’s problems include the usual fender benders and some nasty crashes.
Here’s the early tally with no purpose to pass judgment but to remind everyone that the laws of physics and gravity are absolute. (For trivia, and perhaps to make a point, the mass of the Earth is 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms). We don’t overpower mother nature for long!!!
Totals for the week:
65 accidents (2007 average was 26.6 per week)
9 fatal accidents (2007 average was 4.8)
12 fatalities (2007 average was 8.6)
Only 7 involved homebuilt aircraft
10 take-off accidents, two fatal with three fatalities
19 landing accidents (3 in seaplanes)
13 forced landings following power loss (one confirmed fuel exhaustion)
5 gear-up landings
4 gear collapses
5 fatal crashes under unknown circumstances (6 fatalities), including two in gliders
3 stalls, one fatal, the other two after power loss on short final
One fatal wire strike, a crop-dusting accident, 3 wingtip strikes, and a taxi collision.
As you might have suspected, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the worst:
Friday — 18 accidents, 2 fatal, 2 fatalities
Saturday — 9 accidents, 1 fatal, 2 fatalities
Sunday — 11 accidents, 3 fatal, 5 fatalities
There were 3 helicopter accidents during the week – no fatalities – that are not included in the above numbers, so despite snarky comments regarding rotor wing aerodynamics or lack thereof, the heli pilots are doing a pretty good job.
Makes and models covered the spectrum: gliders, antiques, a few warbirds, several twins, high performance singles, basic aircraft, a crop duster, a banner tower, one Light Sport Aircraft.
While old aircraft, as a group, carry their age well, there appear to be instances where something broke. Was there anything that should have been replaced sooner?
For pilots, as usual, we have to look in the mirror and remind ourselves that confidence fades more slowly than proficiency. All the hours in the logbook are just that – wonderful memories but the most critical flight is the one we’re about to make. Have we actively managed the risks or are we just letting safety happen? Challenge yourself and your fellow pilots, respectfully, to actively look for the possibilities. The next Fourth of July will be great one – be there!!!
(Thanks to David Kenny – ASF’s Safety Database Manager for the statistics)