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Thread: Is flying Microlights safe?

  1. #21
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    Is flying Microlights safe?

    Are you here to pick a fight, or are you just a coward? :-)

    Dunno 'bout you, but I would prefer to have done something with my life rather than just sit in front of the tele 'cos I'm scared to walk out of the door in case I might hurt myself.

    You takes your choice...

    Did you stop eating eggs when Edwina told us they all had salmonella?

  2. #22

    Is flying Microlights safe?

    Andy
    The fight going on is purely internal, with myself. I as a modeller enjoy doing crazy flying stunts, safe in the knowledge the risk to life and limb is very low. So what if I break up a few hundredís worth? I also have an even more chicken wife, I donít think she would object to that description. This project will not proceed without her on board.
    Having flown in lots of different types of a/c, I can definitely say I found it enjoyable, and did not unduly worry about my personal safety. Maybe a little, when the four of us in the R44 spied a Jet Ranger slightly overhead and coming slowly towards us at 2 oíclock. It was obvious to us all the pilot did not see us from the right seat, so our pilot smoothly lowered collective to increase separation to say 200 feet I would guess. Then while in a microlight in Italy last month, both the pilot and I only saw another coming in the last few seconds at 10 oíclock low ( our PIC was on right) although he must have been visible for some time beforehand. Possibly he had seen us and considered the 100m separation OK. Itís when Iím back on the ground I get to thinking about stuff, and about whether Iím feeling lucky or not to continue. At 27 I had two children, and really would have loved to take up hang gliding. I did the weekend course, flew much further that anyone else, with my admiring wife taking the pictures. Later when they came back, our then two little ones were way up the field in the background happily watching. I wrote to the then BHGA and got copies of accident stats. It was amazing and saddening to read of stupid mistakes costing a life. I did not take the risk by continuing, because I thought it unfair to my family. Now Iím 54, with four adult children all self sufficient, and I feel freer to take chances I would not do back then. Also it's safer now, but also i'm more reflective of what I do.

    Coward? Emotive stuff that, but it really is at the heart of the matter. We all rate the rewards of flying subjectively. Whether itís cowardice or discretion is also subjective at first glance. But I wonder if there is a way to assess which of these traits can describe my attitude. Cowardice could be said to be doing a runner due to unjustified and heightened fear and anxiety, discretion the opposite. I donít feel the fatality odds of, best estimate, one or two thousand to one are acceptable for one years flying. Maybe some people do. Do you? How do you convince yourself you are weighing things up with due consideration? Maybe we all prefer not to give these matters long consideration, preferring to feel lucky instead. Is there a psychologist in the house? Or even a shrink?
    :shocked: :shocked:

  3. #23
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    Is flying Microlights safe?

    Hi John (I guess thats your name nhoj?)

    You are at a similar stage in life to me and I recognise some of what you are saying, but getting hung up on the statistics doesn't help in my view.

    Here's what I think, for what its worth:

    • * Flying is dangerous inherently because your little soft delicate human body is suspended above the ground in a mechanical contrivance that, unlike a car, fails in an unsafe way (I mean you can't just stop and get out if the engine fails). Hence the strong emphasis on safety in all aspects of flying training and procedures.

      * BUT, as others have pointed out, in flying you are almost entirely responsible for your own safety (unlike in car driving). This is one of the main things that makes it so appealing to many people - self reliance and being in charge of your own destiny is unusual in the modern world. Being on your own in an aircraft is character building!

      * behaviour is crucial to safety. How you behave when flying will change the odds dramatically. This is not the same as saying all accidents are caused by idiots and if you are not an idiot you will not have an accident, but just that the risk will be different.

      * So its about risk management. Flying is low risk, but the consequences of failure are dramatic, whereas driving is higher risk but with generally less serious consequences

      * Why are we comparing flying to driving a car anyway? Sport flying is a sport, not a mode of transport. You should compare it to playing rugby, horse riding and big game hunting.

    So my advice is to go and start training at a school and with an instructor who can convince you that he or she is good at their job and will help you to become the best and safest pilot that you can be. By the time you are qualified you should have the skills and knowledge to be very safe, as long as you always use that skill and knowledge.

    Oh, and by the way, its not compulsory - don't beat yourself up if you decide flying is not for you. We do it because we enjoy it, we know that we are hooked and life wouldn't be worth as much without it.

    good luck

    Martin

  4. #24
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    Is flying Microlights safe?

    Hi nhoy,

    Thanks for your reply, from your previous posts I had got the impression you were here to stir it up a bit. It sounds, as you have said, the fight you are having is with yourself. So apologies if my post was inept!

    Statistic are statistics, you must take them and learn what you wish. Your own safety will be down to you and for good airmanship an attitude such as yours is sound. It's all about not taking undue risks and recognising risks when they appear. Some are willing to take more than others and it is a fact that those who take more risks (aka overly adventurous/crazy/stupid) are more likely to be part of those statistics.

    It is true that ANY aviation suffers no fools. But if you are careful and progressive with your learning, rather than push yourself well beyond your limits, then you will be rewarded with a safe and enjoyable hobby. aka, as Ginge says, 'good airmanship'.

    Maybe you could take a look at the AAIB website (www.aaib.gov.uk). This gives you the nitty gritty of accidents which do happen. If you read through these though you'll see that in the vast majority of cases things are minor. Personally I make a habbit of reading the latest reports to see if I can learn something from them.

    By the way, I have spent many hours flying models, particularly 3D aerobatics with helicopters. It's great, but it doesn't compare to getting yourself in the air. :-)

    Has your wife ever been in a microlight? Would she? Before I started I got a trial flight for my partner to gauge her reaction before signing up. Oddly, she has a terrible fear of heights. But once strapped into the back of the trike she is fine and enjoys it. The thing she finds most uncomfortable is flying around when the air is busy, as you have already noted above. I try to avoid these situations when she is in the back (i.e flying where there are lots of people landing at one airfield at once).

    Seems to be from your last post that you've got the right attitude. There are risks (just like everything in life), but if you manage them correctly you'll be safe.

  5. #25
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    Is flying Microlights safe?

    I'd like to add my twopence worth to this thread too. I just have to say that I loved the saying every man dies but not every man has lived.

    I learned to fly a hang glider and joined the Dales Hang Gliding and Paragliding club, and what a great club it is too. Whilst learning I got to know a guy by the name of Dave Smith. Now after qualifying Dave and I did our share of hill waiting (stood on the hill because it was too strong, too weak, clagged in or whatever)

    I then asked him if he fancied going to fly in the alps, we'd heard so much about the great flying there. He said yeah and we booked the trip. We camped in a tent in passy plain joux and had guidance from Dennis Trott.

    As low airtime pilots we we flying from what I consider too marginal a site. Dennis was talking to us about thermalling but we only had about 5 hours each of air time. The thermals were too small for us on our targets to get to grips with. On one perticular day it was obviously thermic in the mountain and I was fighting with a thermal but I remember Dennis saying that you had to be level with the hospital as you passed it in order to make the landing field. I looked in horror at the hospital because I was about a hundred feet below it with no chance of making the landing field. I came in and out of the thermal I was fighting with and luckily (or skillfully) for me managed to climb above the hospital by about 100 feet.

    That was it, I'd had enough and headed straight for the landing field, only to discover that because it was so thermic in the mountain that the valley was full of sink. I cored the sink all the way to the landing field, with not so much as a beat to take off height before my feet hit terra ferma.

    The following day, in the company of a past world champion "Gordon Rigg" I was reluctant to fly to say the least.

    Dave took off first and flew round the mountain. He was out of veiw for some time as we waited to see him heading for the landing field. We never did. Behind us there was some commotion as two French ladies came yelling "le delta" and pointing down the road they had just travelled up. Dennis and I looked at each other and got into his van and set off down the road.

    When we got to him he was lying in the recovery position with his harness cut off him. His glider was nose down in the road. I looks like he got low over the trees and hit the base bar on a tree which stalled him and threw him 40 foot into the road where the gap was in the trees. Luckily for him there was a paramedic travelling up the road in his car moments after the accident.

    Cut to the present day. Dave has now recovered somewhat but will never be the same. He came home in an air ambulance and on many occasions I thought he wasn't going to make it.

    Now to me and my thoughts... I am married with 2 kids. 14 and 12 and just after the accident and I got home my daughter sat on my Knee and said that she didn't want me to go hang gliding anymore, so I quit. I sold my glider and haven't flown for a couple of years.

    Now here's the but... I still walk the earth and gaze skyward. Every aeroplane I see in the sky I watch with interest and I still want to fly. I suppose I'm hooked myself.

    Just one more point... I'm now 44 as I type this, and at 40 I sat in the hospital and watched my mum pass away. I held her hand whilst she died. Life is just too short not to live it. Don't die without living it.

    Dave's accident has had a real impact on me and I don't want to leave my wife and kids with a memory of me but I really have to LIVE. If that means flying a microlight then that is what it will be. All of the fears mentioned in the replies above have touched me but for me, I've just got to do it. I will be as safe as possible and if it's marginal I just simply won't fly.

    Hope it's of some help :shocked:

  6. #26
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    Is flying Microlights safe?

    Swift, Andy & Dog Snob are absolutely right it's down to you - I think there are two ways of flying - just as there are in driving and particularly riding bikes - there were the days on bikes when I took my brain and sense out of my head and left it at home for later on, went out and rode like a demon. Other days I was sense and legality personified. Flying is the same - fly with one foot in the abyss and you increase the chances of a sticky end - no-one can predict the unexpected(no-one expects the spanish inquisition!) but you can safeguard as much as possible. When you hear tales of various microlight accidents you can often (but not in all, mind) discern the numpty value in it. I don't think twice about being in the air (even in the low level corridor on a nice Saturday afternoon..ha ha) - but I don't ride a bike like I did and I am cautious on roads too.

    Quite frankly you can decide how safe you are going to be by improving the odds (acts of god are another thing entirely...back to the spanish inquisition again).

  7. #27

    Is flying Microlights safe?

    A quick comment, as Iím in a hurry:

    Would it be reasonable to assume that since weíre all, say, sort of, well we hope, a lot more safety trained and aware so therefore better than average, that 90% or whatever of pilot errors would not happen to our select group?

    The overall fatality rate is roughly 1 in 1750 per year, based on 2 fatalities out of a membership of say 3500.

    And assuming 85% of fatal accidents are caused by pilot error, this would then equal
    (1-0.9)*0.85 + (1-0.85), which is roughly 25% of the original risk of the overall population, roughly 1 in 7000 per year.

    This is roughly 1 in 700 for ten years flying, 1 in 234 for 30 years. Good odds for the reward? Put it another way:
    Say Ryanair are offering cheap flights with all the sex you can have with the air hostesses, but the pilots like to join in too and there have been a few crashes...
    :yeah:

  8. #28
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    Is flying Microlights safe?

    nhoj wrote:
    A quick comment, as Iím in a hurry:

    Would it be reasonable to assume that since weíre all, say, sort of, well we hope, a lot more safety trained and aware so therefore better than average, that 90% or whatever of pilot errors would not happen to our select group?
    While we are all safety trained in our flight training and good airmanship factors are taught to all of us, once we receive our licences we are released into the wild, so to speak. From then on our safety, and that of our passengers is our own responsibility.

    This is little different to receiving your car driving licence except you are not under strict surveillance and the penalty for getting it wrong when flying is likely to be more severe. As you are so fond of statistics, what percentage of licensed drivers retain fully the safety aspect of what they are taught?

    I believe that a far greater number of fliers retain the safety training than drivers do, but that they operate in a far less forgiving enviroment, although I base this not on figures but on the attitudes of both fraternities as I perceive them from personal experience.

    Basically though, it is as I first stated it is down to the individual to take responsibility for their own safety. Believe it or not some of us prefer it that way.

    Ginge

  9. #29

    Is flying Microlights safe?

    Hi Ginge
    I agree with everything you say, I also wish to take responsibility for my safety and that of my lady passenger.

    There is only one catch. If every body takes responsibility then why the unacceptably high accident rate? Are there a lot of irresponsible pilots, alternatively are they insufficiently aware of danger even after training? Or is there some other factor I'm not considering?

  10. #30
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    Is flying Microlights safe?

    nhoj wrote:
    Hi Ginge
    I agree with everything you say, I also wish to take responsibility for my safety and that of my lady passenger.

    There is only one catch. If every body takes responsibility then why the unacceptably high accident rate? Are there a lot of irresponsible pilots, alternatively are they insufficiently aware of danger even after training? Or is there some other factor I'm not considering?
    I did not claim that everybody takes proper responsibility only that in my experience a greater number of pilots do, compared to car drivers. The cost of making mistakes in an aircraft is likely to be much higher.
    Ask yourself how far do you travel on a major road before you see somebody making a stupid mistake? My guess is that it will not be far, many get away with it. The chances of remaining unhurt after a mistake in aviation are very much smaller, so far fewer incidents but at a higher cost.
    All the instructors from my own aquaintance make sure that safety issues are well understood and the main purpose of the GST is to ensure the the student pilot can fly safely. So at some stage in their career they were very safe pilots. After that it is entirely in their own hands and humans being what they are some will practice stalls, steep turns, PFLs, handling crosswinds and take off and landing on slopes safely far more than others.
    Another human condition is that some people feel more mortal than others and always look for the safe option while others press on with the odds against them getting higher all the time. To see how this can happen you could do no better than to look at this DVD
    and take a look at these with special reference to leaflets 01,07,12,23 and 24 in particular, although most of the others are well worth a read too. Also useful would be to google CAA Safety Evenings, these are held all around the country in the winter months and a lot can be absorbed there to reinforce the knowledge that your instructor imparted
    So I repeat, there is no excuse for not being aware of safety issues, but after license the responsiblity rests, where in my opinion it should rest, with the pilot in command.
    Ginge

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