December 2015 Issue

Memorable Aircraft Accidents

Distractions, judgment lapses, peer pressure and poor decisions quickly can turn an otherwise uneventful flight into a memory.

The typical flight in a personal airplane is uneventful. We take off, fly the mission and land. Every now and then, though, stuff happens. It’s one of the reasons flying has been called “hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror,” a description it shares with many other activities. In fact, most of us have our own tales to tell, stories of airborne drama we’ve experienced personally or heard directly from the people involved. I’ve been doing a lot of flying recently, spending quality time at airports and remote landing strips with other pilots and their airplanes. Along the way, I picked up several “there I was” narratives from pilots who made serious errors in judgment, plus others who experienced what can only be described as bad luck. Sharing these narratives with other pilots helps add to our knowledge of what can happen, how we should prepare for it and what we can do in response. In reflecting on them, I soon realized they all have a common element. And since I was the pilot for one such event, I can assure you: When an event begins, it often happens very quickly, providing little warning.

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