Able GA spokesperson sets the Safety Record Straight

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Aviation accidents, like the one reported below in Lake Placid’s local newspaper, usually result in fairly sensational journalism. AOPA Foundation’s President did an admirable job of controlling the tone to explain how GA flying a relatively safe.

A Mooney Aircraft crashed within view of the airport somewhat near where the pilot is flying in the above picture. The local PBS news bureau chief was assigned to scope out the safety of General Aviation. The author first quoted Bruce Landsberg, the leader of the AOPA Foundation and Air Safety Institute , showing the value of his years as an Air Force pilot and at Flight Safety. It appears that he put the reporter at ease with a quick, but meaningful quip by joking that “general aviation is probably the most regulated personal activity on the planet.” His quotes demonstrated his command of the statistics and of the practical reality of flying”

“In general aviation roughly 75 to 80 percent of the accidents are caused by the pilot either doing something, or not doing something, that they should have done. I did just a little back-of-the-envelope research here, but over the last five years there have been 22 fatal accidents in the state of New York.  During almost the same time period for automobiles there were nearly 6,000 people killed.”

“We make the point that not only do you have to physically be able to control the airplane and teach your students to physically control the airplane,  but we want people to assess  circumstances and say ‘okay this looks like it has a high risk potential’ and make sure your student understands.”

“From what we know at this point, and I will stress that my comments are preliminary, we had two airplanes approaching a non-towered airport from opposite directions. That’s perfectly fine. So they each turned away from the other and then re-entered the traffic pattern. The Mooney pilot,  when he started his go-around, did not retract his flaps. In a go-around you do need to retract them. And when he started to make a turn back towards the airport, or was on final, the aircraft stalled and they lost lift and fell to the ground. Flying is not without risk, but it can be very, very safe.”

Such quiet confidence assured that the headline was not “Unsafe Skies” or the like and moved it to the neutral terms “A Look at General Aviation Safety”. The fact is that GA is relatively safe and getting better. Mr. Landsberg did an excellent job of setting the record straight.

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