Sometimes in the field of aviation safety, there are revelations: As a result of an accident investigation, a hitherto unexplored hazard emerges and everyone becomes cognizant of it and vows that never again shall it be permitted to take a life. That’s just what happened more than 33 years ago on August 8, 1985, when Delta Air Lines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011-385-1, was brought down while flying through a microburst during an approach to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (KDFW). A microburst is a relatively small, violent downburst creating damaging winds and positive and negative wind shear spreading out in all directions. Although the term is nothing new, many pilots had never even heard of a microburst until the 135 deaths in the flight Flight 191 accident. It suddenly became a hot topic and remained so long after the Safety Board’s accident report came out on August 15, 1986. In fact, every pilot now does, or at least should, hear something about microbursts during training. Even so, some pilots may have a perception that microbursts are things that go after airliners and don’t bother with little general aviation planes. That perception is very wrong, as demonstrated just over a year ago when a Piper PA-46-310P Malibu crashed near Harrisburg, Oregon, killing the pilot and his three passengers.
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