Culture and aviation safety

Those types would have entertained my flight instructor to no end. He taught me in the late 60’s but had taught WWII pilots, did crop dusting, charters, flew for Southern Airlines or whatever else would make some money. He taught me from private thru instrument. He even taught how to get out of spins which was not required. Getting into a spin took some effort but getting out took some knowledge. On cross country training he would reach down as it he were tying his shoe or pulling up his sock and turn off the fuel. Then he’d sit there looking out the window waiting to see if you set up for putting down at a place you were supposed to already have thought about and then wait until you figured out what the problem was, turned the fuel back on and went on your merry way. Panic was not tolerated. He’d let you lose quite a bit of altitude while you thought. Great teacher.

Let’s not forget the Dutch.

Before takeoff, the KLM flight engineer expressed his concern about the Pan Am not being clear of the runway by asking the pilots in his own cockpit, “Is he not clear, that Pan American?” The KLM captain emphatically replied “Oh, yes” and continued with the takeoff, snubbing the junior officer’s concern.

My dive master had a great saying he used when briefing new students. “Water is not your enemy. Panic is.”

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Reminds me of a saying my first chief told me which I adopted later. There only two things you need to know right now. The other knowledge will come with experience.
Rule 1. The salt water stays on the outside. Rule 2. Do not get excited because if you do only two things can happen and both are bad. You’ll either make a bad situation worse or hurt yourself. If you think violations of rules 1 or 2 are happening, call me and we’ll figure things out.

Perhaps this is more inline with part “B” . Was flying a small prop job out of Islip NY, sure they were American pilots. Revved up and started down the runway. Suddenly slowed down and turned off the tarmac, started banging on the console because they didn’t have some sort of light they needed. Cockpit was visible to the 8-12 passengers. Somehow they got the light needed and we took off after about 10-15 minutes. Was nervous the whole time. I guess all that banging solved it. We arrived safely. Was it culture, training, or knew the plane well? Or all of the above?

In my younger years thought about getting my pilots license. Fortunately I had the sense to realize I do too many stupid things on the ground to be a good pilot in the air.

I came to a similar conclusion.

It was poor maintenance and a poor decision to continue in my opinion. Maybe it was a loose connection maybe not. You got lucky.
People get lazy and complacent. I used to fly on a regular basis in the Caribbean on local airlines. Most of the pilots were either locals trying to build time or guys retired and making some money to live their “Caribbean Dream.” One I flew with on a regular basis was a retired Canadian pilot. Good pilot and nice guy but got lackadaisical about checking after his ground crew. His plane crashed and killed all onboard. The cause? The baggage compartment in the nose was not fastened correctly. Upon take off one or more pieces of baggage came out and were thrown by the prop against the passenger cabin. The plane was still flying and controllable but the passengers freaked out and ran to the back of the cabin putting the plane into a stall. It crashed against a mountain.

No tech people were called out, and yes, thinking back on it, I had a horseshoe up my ass.

There can a be a LOT of unofficial encouragement to just get it done. Ever wonder why all the problems magically happen halfway home on the last leg of the day when the plane is going back to base anyway vs. the first leg of the day when it would cost money :roll_eyes:

  • not hugely different from 1001 ships sinking over the centuries because an owner needed it at X port on Y date or else.
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No wonder at all. Been there,done that.

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As the old saying goes. The captain decides if the ship sails but the owner decides who is the captain. Money rules.


Nicely stated.

‘Get home-itis’ is a common cause of many general aviation accidents. John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife were famous victims of this syndrome: Allowing a personal commitment/appointment to take precedence over safety, in his case, inadvertently flying into instrument conditions without the proper training.

Get home-itis is responsible for a bit of damage in the maritime industry as well. Gotta make that flight or crew change, weather be damned.

Thus Thanksgiving usually collects the most wrecked planes of any week of the year - can’t disappoint Grandma, even if we arrive through the roof.


I used to have a Part 135 operation out of St. Maries, Idaho. Just north of there the interstate highway (I-90) wound through the mountains on the border of Montana and Idaho. It was a trap for non instrument rated pilots taking the family to or from granny’s place every major holiday. They would follow the highway into rising terrain and lowering ceilings until crashing onto the ski slope or the highway. with nearly always fatal results. Thanksgiving and Christmas were almost guaranteed to claim someone.

I had a friend who lost a loved one in that area while I was doing the same thing out of Burbank, out to the desert, delivering bank cargo. There was no saying no without getting fired. Cherokee Sixes and Beech 18s with no deicing. It sounded so romantic when de St. Exupery wrote about mail deliveries in his open cockpit biplanes. He never mentioned trying to sleep in cheap desert motels with rubber curtains to block out the harsh desert sun and flying before sunup and after sundown through squall lines to suit the bank schedules.

My hat is off to all you fellows who sailed AND flew . Just didn’t have the stomach to do both. Counted my blessings of survival in the first tense. Good for you. Most respect sirs.

Sailing was a lark compared to that.