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Maneuvering Flight

Featuring Bob Martens


"Bob, most pilots understand the risks of maneuvering flight. So why should we even spend time talking about it?"


"Well Mark, I've always been a student of aircraft accidents, and my rationale is very simple. We're not remotely creative in general aviation flying. We just keep doing the same dumb stuff over and over again. So until such time as we take some positive action to change the state of affairs, looking at where we've been is a pretty good indication of what we can expect in the near future."


"What do the numbers say, Bob? Is maneuvering flight causing a lot of accidents?"


"Well Mark, the Nall Report, produced yearly by the Air Safety Foundation, is an excellent state of the union for general aviation. The 2006 report, which analyzes the 2005 accidents, made for some fascinating reading; they had some very distressing facts.

Maneuvering flight accounted for 1/3 of all the fatalities. For single engine fixed-gear airplanes, the percentage of fatal maneuvering accidents jumped dramatically from 29 percent in 2004, to 39 percent in 2005. And Mark, in my experience with years at the FAA, these observations just continually bore themselves out. They were far too many, they were always tragic in nature, and they're absolutely avoidable."


"When we talk about maneuvering flight, Bob, what kind of flying are we talking about"


"Well Mark, the definition used by the Air Safety Foundation for the purposes of this report, include the following areas of flight: aerobatics, low passes, buzzing, pull-ups, aerial application maneuvers, a turn to reverse direction (as in a box canyon-type maneuver), or engine failure after take-off when the pilot tries to return to the runway.

Mark, and when you think about it, let's take a look at all the good reasons there are to be operating an aircraft close to the ground. You know what? Other than landing, I can't think of any. Remember, I said we're talking about good reasons for operating close to the ground."

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