Accident Probes

Unseen, Unheard

[IMGCAP(1)]Heres a news flash: There is no such thing as a perfect flight. Every pilot is forced to examine the airplane he is about to fly, his own skills and the demands of the mission, and make judgment calls about the risks involved and how to minimize them.

Sometimes the calls are easy, with the intended flight well within the limitations of the airplane and pilot or so far outside those capabilities that a decision is black and white. Most times, however, the choice requires not so much a go/no-go decision as an analysis of where the pitfalls of the flight might be.

In those cases, a pilots experience leads to certain assumptions, for better or for worse. Just as you may expec...

Low Time Surprise

[IMGCAP(1)]Check the ads for used airplanes and its pretty clear that most buyers are looking for a 1970s era airplane with low airframe and engine time. The Holy Grail, it seems, is a mid- to late-70s model with under 2,000 hours.

Although the buyers intent is usually to find an airplane that has been well cared for, there are some cases where low time means neglected. Furthermore, many owners rely on operating hours when scheduling maintenance, not accepting the fact that many parts also need attention after the passage of time, even if the airplane has been on the ground.

The buyer of a 1975 Cessna 177RG thought hed found a good deal when he bought the airplane Dec. 30, 1999....

Experienced, But How?

[IMGCAP(1)]Being a responsible pilot means there are a lot of things you cant take for granted. Proficiency, maintenance, charts, briefings, inspections, review and judgment are all routine parts of the game.

Some people play it well and play it to win. Some play it to have fun or pass the time. Some play because they think they should. Some shouldnt play at all, but do.

Accidents that involve the latter group are easy for more serious pilots to dismiss. They reason that by virtue of a more businesslike approach they are immune from many of the troubles that befall their unfortunate brethren.

As you go up the aviation hierarchy to more flying hours, more ratings and bigger airpl...


You often see what you expect to see rather than whats really there, a deadly combination on a Sarasota runway.

Mad Mixture

Old airplane and twin-engine psychology take Apache pilot down the wrong road toward emergency landing.

Too Much, Too Soon

As much as it pains some people to admit it, light airplanes are seldom the kind of go-anywhere-anytime transportation tools most pilots would like them to be. Generally speaking, the smaller the airplane, the less capable it is to perform all-weather duty.

The limitations of flying light aircraft are such that weather can easily overwhelm any pilot who does not both recognize and accept the fact that sometimes the wheels ought to stay on the ground. While thats a lesson instructors and examiners try to instill in every private and instrument applicant, sometimes the lesson comes too late to do the pilot much good.

The temptation to push the envelope of both airplane and pilot is stro...