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Training Tip: Never out of reachTraining Tip: Never out of reach

The paperwork from an official accident inquiry included an investigator’s note with this observation about the pilot involved: “No Wings Program or safety seminar participation.”

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The point?

A pilot’s recent experience, including documented training such as a flight review or equivalent, or other safety-related activities, may come in for examination after a mishap.

To look at it in a more encouraging light, a pilot who participates in formal or informal safety education, whether through structured programs, online courses, or events put on by a flying club, can expect some credit for the effort.

For that kind of pilot, mishaps are known to be less probable, so any initiative to make aviation ever safer will be most effective if it seeks out pilots who have disconnected from regular efforts to raise their safety consciousness.

What areas get pilots in trouble the most? The AOPA Air Safety Institute provided its annual look at that question on Aug. 23, when it released the 26th Joseph T. Nall Report, a review of general aviation accidents for 2014, the most recent year for which complete data are available.

The answer: landings, takeoffs and climbs, low-altitude maneuvering, and fuel mismanagement. No surprises there.

Also announced was an effort you can participate in to get more pilots involved in safety-related activities by urging the so-far "unreachable" members of the aviation community back to safety through the “Find one, bring one” approach.

As a student pilot preparing for a checkride, right now you are one of the most safety-conscious aviators out there, your head crammed with V-speeds and emergency procedures, and your carefully prepared practice flights saturated with stall avoidance, go-arounds, and see-and-avoid techniques.

How does a pilot drift from that level of mindfulness to “unreachable”?

Gradually, in most cases, fueled unwittingly, as accident reports and Aviation Safety Reporting System filings attest, by lack of current information, and piloting skills rusted from inactivity.

In a few cases, pilots become unreachable through overconfidence or defiance—but even they enjoy a cup of coffee on the house, so invite one along next time you watch a safety video, attend a local safety session, or drop in at a safety seminar at an AOPA Fly-In like those scheduled Sept. 8 and 9 in Norman, Oklahoma, or Oct. 6 and 7 in Groton, Connecticut.

Then make a pact with your pilot pal to never drift out of safety’s reach.

Share your thoughts about how to stay “reachable” at AOPAHangar.com.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Air Safety Institute, Flight Training, Student
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