Tuesday, June 1, 2004
The 10 Dumbest Things Pilots Do
Although pilots continue to try to find new ways to screw up, there’s an amazing similarity to accident scenarios from today and from 75 years ago. Here’s a list of the most common stupid pilot tricks.
Ask any pilot about the danger zones of pilot experience and most will give you a blank stare. Ask Bruce Landsburg of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation or veteran instructor/aviation journalist Rod Machado and you’ll receive intelligent, informed answers." />
“As you might expect, newbies make more mistakes and wind up wrecking airplanes with greater regularity,” says Landsburg. “In general aviation, we see a disproportionate number of accidents between 80 and 120 hours, 15 to 40 hours after most pilots earn their private tickets and stop flying with instructors.”
“The military has done studies that suggest their pilots go through another danger zone at about 500 hours, becoming over-confident and feeling invulnerable,” Landsburg continues. “Beyond that experience level, there doesn’t appear to be much correlation between hours and accidents. Military pilots recognize the risks because they’re flying closer to the edge to accomplish their mission, and they’ll sometimes lose friends or see them taken off flight status or even discharged if they develop danger-ous habits.”
Rod Machado is a CFIIM with some 8,000 hours of teaching experience, and he feels the list of offenses hasn’t changed much over the years. Like any good instructor, Machado is curious as to what motivates pilots to fly dumb, and as a trained psychiatrist (along with all his other talents), he has examined the pilot mentality at length.
Machado attributes the most common pilot errors to a lack of proficiency. “Pilots don’t properly assess the loss of proficiency and decision-making processes that result from not having recent flight experience,” says Machado. “This partially explains why pilots might not be as capable as they thought while handling a crosswind or why they might feel they’re swimming in glue during a complex instrument approach or emergency.”
Modern aviators make many of the same mistakes their predecessors have made since man taught fabric, wood and metal to fly. Here’s our inevitable list of 10 (not seven or nine) stupid pilot tricks, in no particular order. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll find few others to make.
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