Small plane accidents aren't uncommon - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Small plane accidents aren't uncommon

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August 15, 2003

Albany--  Pilots sometimes fly without considering some of the most important elements in aviation.

Single engine and twin engine planes crash nearly everyday. In 2002, 1,336 small private planes went down in America; 314 of those accidents resulting in fatalities.

People often assume these accidents are a result of mechanical failure, but you may be surprised. “It's going to be pilot error, something the pilot didn't do or should have done in a particular sequence,”said Albany Airport Director Richard Howell.

 A small plane flight can be a convenient and enjoyable experience but it requires a lot of careful preparation. Only after a pilot checks through his entire checklist can they be ready for take off. Going through the checklist does take time but following through with it, could mean the difference between life and death.

First things first, check to see there is enough fuel. “One of the things most pilots end up doing is running out of gas,” said Howell.

he battery and lights need to be double-checked. “Landing lights working, strobe lights working on the wing, one red light opposite side needs to be agreeing, rotating beacon on top of the tail.”

Flying through the skies can be a smooth and relaxing ride, but a pilot must check all of his equipment to be sure his plane won't be heading for a nose dive. “You always like to give these airplanes a good shake on these surfaces. Make sure everything's attached the way it's supposed to be.”

Private pilots are required to have a review with a flight instructor every two years. “They check to make sure i know what I’m doing, I’m operating safely, I haven't developed any bad habits,” said Howell.

But before you head down the runway, remember that safety comes first. Check off your checklist, and enjoy your flight.

The Albany Flying Club promotes flight safety and not only provides the opportunity to fly but offers courses on how to fly safely.

posted at 11:00 AM by dave.miller@walb.com