Monday, May 05, 2008

A Word of Caution

Every time I hear somebody in the FAA talk about how this is the safest period in aviation history I wince. You might say it is superstition. You might say it is being prudent. Aviation is incredibly safe. We say it over and over as we openly worry about keeping it safe. Luck plays a part in it. I’m not smart enough to figure out why or how to describe it -- I just know that it does. It’s easier to show than it is to describe. Take a look at this story from AVweb.

First Fatal T-38 Crashes In Years Prompt Stand Down

”Two fatal accidents in nine days snapped five years of fatality-free operations for the Air Force's T-38C trainer and have now grounded the aircraft “

I don’t know if that ended the Air Force’s “safest period ever” but I do know this is how things seem to go in aviation. You’re cruising along -- fat, dumb and happy -- and everything seems to be working fine. All the safety systems are doing their thing and -- BAM ! -- the wheels fall off.

As the article notes, the Air Force has been training pilots in T-38s almost as long as I’ve been living. They’ll take a close look to see if something changed but -- even if it did -- it won’t be easy to find. It may have to be written off as just bad luck.

I like good luck just as much as the next guy. I don’t want to jinx it though.

Don Brown
May 5, 2008

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