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View Diary: A Reason to Read 'Maxim' (11 comments)

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  •  Sorry, the crash sounds like an accident to me (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a pilot. I know small airplanes.  Reading over the accident report, this sounds like a classic case of a pilot screwing up, and paying with his life.  Unfortunately, that happens.  Here's the official NTSB report:

    I read this and there's nothing mysterious about it: this guy flew into really crappy winter weather, in an airplane that was not equipped for the conditions he encountered (ice) and he lost control.  The cause of the crash was pilot error: he should have known the weather was too crappy for his plane, and he should have avoided it (stayed on the ground).  Icing in flight is very dangerous, even for planes that are properly equipped, and his had no de-icing gear - a recipe for disaster.

    The NTSB accident report is not subject to political pressures or conspiracies.  The guys doing the report are straight-shooters, and the facts speak for themselves: the conditions were very dangerous for that kind of plane, and the guy ran out of good luck.  There's no need for Karl Rove or his henchmen (evil though they surely are) to be involved.  This guy was killed by the bad decision he made to take off into that weather.

    •  Thanks for clarifying (1+ / 0-)
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      I appreciate your explanation of what probably happened to Connell.  It seems that this kind of thing happens far too often: Michael Connell flying his Piper Saratoga into a freezing rain without de-icing equipment; John F. Kennedy Jr. flying HIS Piper into a peasoup fog before completing his training on instrument-alone flying in near-zero visibility, thus becoming disoriented as to ground and sky, and apparently turning into what you pilots call the "death spiral."  Years earlier, NY Yankees star catcher Thurman Munson, while still training on jet aircraft (which, I am told, are much harder to fly than prop jobs), bought a twin-engine jet to fly from games back to his home in the Cleveland suburbs, and crashed on his second or third solo flight in that plane.  Why do people insist on flying in conditions in which they'd be afraid to drive?  It makes no sense.

      •  Human nature (0+ / 0-)

        The fact is, people make bad decisions all the time. They usually get away with it.  But if they keep making bad decisions, eventually that will catch up with them, and the result is tragedy.

        We all make bad decisions.  When we're driving along, we look down for just an instant to grab a CD, or dial number on a cell phone, or fumble with something. You look up and WHOA, SHITE!!! you jam on the brakes or swerve around the guy who stopped in front of you.  You zoom by saying "I'll never make that mistake again!" But eventually, you let your guard down a bit, and over time you get complacent.  Maybe the next time you rear-end someone, or maybe you're lucky and you stop in time.

        It's the same thing for pilots. We make thousands of decisions, large and small, every time we fly.  Usually if we make a small mistake, there's no real consequence.  Often, you can get away with it even if you make a big mistake.  But eventually...

        The problem is compounded by personalities who feel they are invulnerable or somehow "special" - the JFK Jr. accident comes to mind.  He made a rookie mistake.  If he had had a more humble life, maybe he would have made a more conservative decision.  But there's nothing mysterious about his crash - he just fucked up (to put it bluntly).  Same with the others you mentioned.  But lots of non-famous guys kill themselves in airplanes (and cars), too, so it's not just the fame.  People make mistakes.  Mistakes are dangerous when you're in going down the freeway at 60 mph in traffic.  They get more dangerous when you start going faster and higher (OTOH, when there are no other vehicles nearby to hit, you can get away with mistakes - so I actually find flying more forgiving, and more relaxing, than driving - but that's a separate issue).  Bottom line is we're all human, and humans screw up sometimes.

        Pilots are trained to follow procedures strictly, to use checklists, to double-check things, etc, etc.  Safety is stressed over and over and over.  But it's tough to completely overcome human nature 100% of the time.

        When I first learned to fly, my wise old flight instructor told me: "When you are placed on this earth, you start off with a little bag full of luck. The bag starts off with both good luck and bad luck in it. From time to time, if you're in a jam, you are going to have to reach into that bag and pull out some luck. You will never know if you will pull out good luck or bad luck. You will never know how many bits of good luck you have left. The only thing you have control over is how often you reach into the bag. When you're flying, don't rely on what you pull out of the bag. Make good decisions so you don't get in a jam, and you won't end up with a handful of bad luck when you can least afford that."

        I try to remember that every time I leave the ground.

        Hope that's useful to someone.

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