Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I truly love flying. Some people don't. Maybe it's the fact that they are not totally in control. Or maybe it's as simple as fear of something unfamiliar. Once in a while accidents do happen, planes do crash. But statistics prove beyond doubt that flying is about the safest of transportation. Your chances of being in an air crash is so small it's almost unthinkable. Still being honest there is some risk involved with climbing into a metal, wooden and or fabric covered machine and soaring with the birds. Actually there are risks everywhere. Trains, cars, buses, even walking along introduces some level of risk into your life. That thought sometimes makes people want to just lie in bed with the covers pulled up around their necks, cowering at every unexplained sound. There is risk in that as well. Maybe the roof will fall, or maybe you'll drift off into a deep sleep, roll out of the bed and bump you head. There is Risk in everything.

In flying it is a pilots job to minimize the risks. He doesn't do it alone. There are mechanics, weather professionals, routing specialists, and many others to help him. Then there is training which can help reduce the risks and even help avoid most of them. I truly believe this training, works. It is helpful to practice. Learning to avoid or dodge risky actions, and by learning how to minimize others can help make flying or any activity safer. Knowing in advance what to do, how to react to situations, making a plan before the risk arises is a key to safer flying.

I believe there are lessons to be learned from every accident that ever happened. Learning what went wrong and why can help you avoid a similar situation and thereby reduce the risks. I feel so strongly about this that I spend a portion of every day reading aircraft accident reports. Searching for insights that may help me one day.

I have a LARGE collection of official accident reports. From all over the world. Some are just a few paragraphs others contain massive multi-part volumes. I have one report of an airliner accident that runs almost 3,000 pages.

The earliest report I have is of the first crash in history to be fatal to a passenger ( non crew member ). It was with the U.S. Army signal corp ( forerunner of the U.S. Air Force ) and it happened in the extreme early days of powered aviation when a Wright Brothers airplane piloted by Orville himself was giving a demonstration flight to the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia. An Army officer Lt. Thomas Selfridge was along for the ride as an observer. After a few circuits around the field something caused the propeller to break and the "Flyer" crashed nose first into the ground from about 150 feet. Lt. Selfridge died from a massive head injury several hours after the crash. Pilot Orville Wright suffered severe injuries, including a broken leg, several broken ribs and a hip injury. He was hospitalized for seven weeks.

I wrote this as an introduction / background for a series of blogs I have in the works.

I hope you will check back and read the updates, including my next entry. It's a story of a truly bizarre accident that occurred just last Saturday.

See you here

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