Can Contribute To Small Plane Accidents
If it seems there's been a lot of
small plane accidents lately... you're not off base.
While winter weather contributes to many small plane accidents
this time of year, aviation safety experts say other "seasonal
factors" can create hazardous conditions for recreational, as well
as experienced pilots, according to a report by the Miami
Think holiday stress and fatigue; flying to unfamiliar airports
in less than optimal conditions; and concern about the safety of
family members who may be on board.
Two recent small plane accidents occurred during fog conditions,
and when a pilot reported disorientation. Another occurred when a
family was flying to see another family member in the Bahamas, even
though that family member cautioned against flying that day because
of the weather.
Trying to reach a destination on a tight schedule can cause
pilot fatigue, according to Rudolf Mortimer, an Illinois-based
engineering psychologist who studies pilot disorientation and
Mortimer said pilots may downplay factors such as weather in
their eagerness to get someplace... the behavior many pilots refer
to as "get-there-itis."
"People may take risks they otherwise might not if it wasn't
important for them to be in a particular place at a particular
time," such as during the holidays, Mortimer said.
Performing difficult tasks with family
members on board may also add to a pilot's stress, said Michael
Busch, an aviation writer and flight instructor from Arroyo Grande,
CA. Busch contends the presence of family members leads many pilots
to make more conservative decisions.
Mortimer noted that the added responsibility of flying with
family members can increase stress and cause a pilot to narrow his
or her focus in moments when broad awareness is needed, such as
"You have to tell yourself 'it isn't all that important that I
land right here, right now,;" Mortimer said, adding pilots should
always have a "Plan B" in mind in case conditions at the intended
destination aren't favorable.
When it comes to flying in winter... even a "Plan C" may not be
a bad idea...