Freedom to Fly – Safely.

June 24, 2009 by Bruce Landsberg

As we approach the Independence Day holiday, remember that one of our most cherished freedoms is flight. In most countries GA has effectively been legislated out of their airspace under the mantras of safety and security. Of course we know that the airspace belongs to the people – not the airlines and not the government.

You’ll see on several other blogs and on the AOPA home page that will be posted this week or next, there is the encouragement to fly and to take a non-pilot companion along. In most cases it will be a dynamite experience. You’ll have had a great time sharing our passion with someone and quite possibly infected them with the flying bug. In a few cases, the experience will be bad due to pilot immaturity or skill deficiency.

Here are a few examples from the ASF Safety Database.

In the first accident, SEA02FA005, a student pilot took a passenger out on a “pleasure flight” that ended with an attempt to land in a forest clearing in low IMC. The passenger, at least, lived to tell the tale.

In this second example, LAX99FA162 is an instructive low-altitude maneuvering accident that killed two people and destroyed a Globe Swift. The pilot obliged a “female camper” who wanted a ride by making repeated low passes over a campground on a dry lake bed after sunset.

Our third example, CHI03FA149, involves a low-time private pilot trying to pick up a friend at a 2,000-foot grass strip, undeterred by the ten years that had passed since his last soft-field landing practice. The fact that he’d never actually landed on grass didn’t figure into his flight planning, either.

Finally, MIA08CA145 proves that complacency is always a risk, even for a 7,000-hour ATP. Good intentions won’t prevent inattention.

Here’s the point – it doesn’t need to be that way. Go fly on the fourth and take a friend. Be smart and safe. Enjoy what is a truly unique American freedom.

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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