Watch This!

August 21, 2008 by Bruce Landsberg

Those are not good words to hear from the left seat of automobiles or aircraft because it usually means the software is about to do something stupid. It seems to be happening less than it used to but the incidents of low level maneuvering, aka buzzing, are one of the most publicly irresponsible acts pilot do. Flying over a friend’s house with a sharp pull up or tight circles, all done at low altitude, are popular forms of foolishness. Obviously, it’s annoying to people on the ground and things can spin badly out of control, if you’ll pardon the pun, when there’s a crash.

Roseville, California, a suburb of Sacramento, witnessed a particularly egregious accident in 2006 when two pilots in a Glassair spun into a subdivision incinerating themselves and a sleeping college student in one of the houses. The media attention was massive and unfortunate for GA.

ASF followed up with a safety seminar within two weeks on the hazards of maneuvering flight. We did not comment on that particular accident but addressed maneuvering issues in general. Over 400 pilots turned out and it took some of the sting out of the media response. BUT, the people who most needed to be there weren’t. They are, of course, the ones who are so sure of their skills and judgment that training and safety discussions are for all the lesser pilots.

Preaching to the choir is not bad because the choir is gradually growing and we all need guidance, but how should we reach those who don’t think they need it? Pilot Safety Announcements (PSA) are modeled after public service announcements – short video clips that run a minute or less. It’s a new concept for ASF and we tried it out on fuel mismanagement first first. Now we’re going after the buzzers. You’ll start to see these PSAs and others popping up in various places on aviation websites to “ambush” the non-believers who way on their way to some other place on the web. Cynics will doubt that this will make a difference. I’m curious at this point — Let’s see what happens.

The PSAs are deliberately edgy. A little dark humor may be just what’s needed to get the medicine to go down but give us your comments. And please pass these along to those who may be prone to say ” Watch this.”

School Daze

Real Aviation Heroes

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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  • Sydney King

    I think you have the right idea by the tail. I’d like to see some of these spots hit the local TV as PSA’s during prime time or early morning local news time while we’re seeing the results of the over-night driving crashes.

    Keep it up!

    syd king

  • Gary Estes

    I am a former Airline(EAL) and corporate pilot and have been in aviation since birth(My dad was a AI and later a corporate pilot on the first bizjet in our region). I totally agree that the issues these videos address are very important, however when I first watched them I cringed at the thought of the media seeing these and immediately putting them on 60 minutes or one of there so-called “news program”. To those of us in the industry, It is a humorous and self-deprecating way to communicate an idea, but to anyone outside of or new to aviation, it portays the industry as a bunch of immature and irresponsible morons. I urge you to very carefully rethink the release of these videos. I certainly commend all involved for addressing the need for training and awareness but not at the price of giving the industry another black eye.

    Gary Estes

  • http://aopasafetyejournal Edward Tomasini

    Gary Estes’s reply is dead on target.

  • David Magaw

    Yes the accident in Roseville was agregious, but to me the one that takes the grand prize for multiple acts of stupidity is the one in the NTSB report LAX07LA118.

  • Darren Rich

    As a CPL, multi-INRAT holder who teaches ground school at the local flying club as a way to give back to GA in Canada, I think they will be an effective way to get the point across to today’s student pilots. I’d love to be able to show the School Daze video to my students during my Aircraft Performance lecture and have our Human Factors instructor show the Real Aviation Heroes video. Is there any way they can be downloaded and used with attribution?

    As for their potential to backfire in the mainstream media, I think that it might be the case, but it would then allow AOPA to reply to the possible public backlash. You have to give the general population some credit for being able to discern that you are targeting a small population of pilots. Look what is happening now with the introduction of new laws on road racing and cell phone use while driving in various jurisdictions. Damned if you do [anything to try to educate that percentage of the flying population who are ‘cowboys’] and damned if you don’t [do anything].

    Darren Rich

  • Ken Deeble

    The safety msg. can be a hard sell, as you say not to us in the “Choir” but to those not watching. The Military and the Air Lines have it easier because of a captive audience. I am not too concerned about the national media getting ahold of these video’s. The presentations are so over the top that it would seem obvious to the most casual observer the sarcastic humor involved. Especially coming from an organization dedicated to aviation safety. I feel that placement of these ad’s is the critical part not only to avoid the mainstream attention, but also getting the message to the right audience. I wish you success!

  • Louie Ilievski

    Hilarious and excellent videos! I loved them, especially Real Aviation Heroes. I’m not sure what the impact will be on the general public, but I agree with Darren that it would give AOPA the chance to respond. I can say that it definitely gets through to the pilots. After I was done laughing I actually did take a moment to think about the seriousness of it all.

  • robert hasiak

    I enjoyed both videos very much, and they were very well thought out and comical to any aviator. That being said…I believe that these spots should only find their way on aviation websites and must be protected so as to ensure anyone cant download them and send them to their buddies. The fact remains that these are “inside jokes” of our community and publically would do our cause no good. Dont get me wrong..these aren’t actually jokes…but they are really only best understood by John Q. Pilot, not John Q. Public. The best thing any pilot can do to share aviation and demonstrate its safety is to do just that…share it. How many kids on your block wouldnt mind going for an airplane ride…how many parents? While no one likes to waist money…if you think about it..these same people could be on a board voting on what to do with your them what safety looks like..not what hazardous flying looks like. We have to share our love through experience..not through headlines.

  • Jim Bredy

    It might be a good idea for everyone to review the provisions of FAR 91.119, Minimum Safe Altitudes.

  • Cary Alburn

    I’m really torn–the “hotshots” who need the reminders aren’t likely to ever see them, those who don’t need the reminders will and they’ll see the dark humor involved, but if the general public sees them, I agree that they are likely to get the wrong message about GA pilots altogether.

    After the recent mid-air collision near Rock Springs, the local newspaper’s website was full of comments from non-pilots that really showed the general ignorance of non-pilots. Similarly, when the Angel Flight went down on take-off at Iowa City, the local newspaper’s website had similarly ignorant comments.

    We have a lot of educating to do of the general public–and I don’t have any confidence that these videos, if released outside GA, will do us any good–and only marginal good if released within GA. I wish I had a better idea of how to get through to the cowboys among us, without risking damaging GA’s reputation with the general public.


  • directory

    You have a good site, i enjoyed my stay!

  • Darren Rich

    Further to my post of 22 Aug 08, our Club now has wireless, so I do show the ASF videos during my ground school lectures. Very effective when we talk about stall speeds and angle of attack during Theory of Flight lectures!