Recurring Patterns Can Be Devastating

SOON aviators will be part of the annual exodus to regular holiday destinations. Accident statistics and patterns show each year some never return. Our focus should be on breaking the patterns or chains of events which typically ensnare many. An integral error is the tendency of trying to mastermind our travel plans. We fly for enjoyment, convenience and versatility in personal schedules. However, circumstances and environmental conditions do not always play along. The professional pilot normally has the benefit of flying relatively superior aircraft to destinations with precision approach facilities.

Sometimes our fly-buddies try to find their way around obvious operational constraints and tend to ignore their limitations and that of their craft. Sometimes even some 'know-it-all' buddies do not make it, succumbing to overwhelming pressures associated with single-crew instrument flying. Studies by Batelle Laboratories have shown the likes of them at times make fatal errors like altitude busts. The hapless ones attempt to visualise pre-emptive patterns. Under stress some neither recognise nor adhere to required changes to cause accidents. Let us briefly consider some typically recurring fatal flying traps.

∑ The wedge - Some attempt to fly underneath clouds into areas of rising terrain. In-flight conditions are not static. While 'scud running' our escape routes behind disappear. The likes of these invariably encounter 'Cumulus Granite' which could be very detrimental to say the least.

∑ The web - We often succumb to circumstantial influences external to the cockpit. Some factors may be as simple as having undertaken to return a rental aircraft and/or having to pay for unoccupied accommodation and/or needing to return to work and getting the kids to school.

∑ The weather - Goes hand-in-hand with the above. Over places like Burgersdorp one can encounter in-flight icing conditions in the twinkling of an eye in the midst of summer. Spatial disorientation and loss of control can accompany inadvertent flight into turbulent conditions without the necessary aids and equipment and/or training and/or levels of proficiency.

∑ Density altitude - An old 'trickster' which happily goes with summer vacations; rendering true airspeeds higher on the approach to land, runways effectively shorter, fuel pumps and injector lines prone to vapour locks and cavitation, the aircraft's ability to clear obstacles and carry loads severely impaired (especially with one engine inoperative), etc.

∑ Showmanship - The deadliest of all. Our aircraft 'define' us. Taking friends and family members 'for a ride' has a quite literal meaning in context. The countryside has been littered by the likes of these over the years. Examples of low flying, display flying and extreme flying abound.

Look for the spider as well as the web. Fly safely!

Aviation Safety
Johan Lottering - Focused Flying

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