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Thread: Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous..... !?

  1. #1
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    Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous..... !?

    There is a statement often used to bring home a sense of flight safety, which I have never been fully at home with;

    "Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect."

    It sounds good and in my opinion describes a whole range of dangerous activities. to say that to rely upon a machine and your own competence to move about at any height above the ground is not inherently dangerous just is not true, But the risk can be reduced to an agreed level by good flight safety practice, I would suggest that to even think that it is not inherently dangerous is in itself dangerous.

    judwin
    May you live in interesting times! (Ancient Chinese Curse)

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    Is there a reason you have opted to place this question in the Historic Aviation Forum or are you raising a broader question?
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."(Mary Baker Eddy)

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    I suppose if I am honest I didn't even think about any other forum. I do know that it was a popular quote in the flight safety world in the Forties. so I suppose you could put an Historic label on it

    Judwin
    May you live in interesting times! (Ancient Chinese Curse)

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    In the last year there have been a few 'incidents' involving UK historics.


    Sea Vixen gear up landing

    Gladiator forced landing after mid display power loss.

    Mustang power loss and gear- up landing.

    Mustang x 2 mid-air collision ( light damage)

    Fatal DH-82 crash

    It would be quite inappropriate to say where, if anywhere, blame lay but the year in general was an impressive example of very high standards of airmanship and competence amongst operators of 'historics. No finger wagging required.

  5. #5
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    Dave English' site has this one listed as 'Original author unknown, dates back to a World War II advisory.' so I guess we can treat it as a historic quote
    A Little VC10derness - A Tribute to the Vickers VC10 - www.VC10.net

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    One quotation site claims it originated in the 1930s from Capt. A.G.Lamplugh of the British Aviation Insurance Group:

    “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”
    Captain A. G. Lamplugh, British Aviation Insurance Group, London. c. early 1930's.

    This famous phrase has been reproduced on posters and plaques many times, almost always with the attribution of 'anonymous.' I was told at a book signing that André Priester (one of the first Pan Am employee's) may have said it, and decided to check this with the late R. E. G. Davies, then curator of air transport history at the Smithsonian and author of a book on Pan Am. Ron called me back and told me the phrase pre-dates Priester. His research showed the originator of the phrase was Captain Lamplugh, who was quite well known in British aviation circles after WWI.”
    Last edited by Consul; 13th January 2018 at 21:35.
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."(Mary Baker Eddy)

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    I have sampled both flying and assorted marine activities, the sea is ridden with more danger although this is based on my own near misses as a diver, canoe,glider pilot, yachtsman and aerial photographer. The sea often involves longer time exposure therefore being at risk for longer. Both locations away from terra firma demand knowledge and respect.Oddly as an island race the British do not have to have a licence of any kind to take to the sea, hence the crazy call outs every year to the coastgaurd and lifeboat crews.
    Last edited by scotavia; 13th January 2018 at 23:47.

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    I think the idea of flying being 'terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect' is meant to inspire a greater breed of pilot, more than anything else. It seems to suggest, optimistically, that flying can be 100% safe if those involved are careful and constantly alert.

    More broadly I think the DH.110 crash at Farnborough or the 1958 Vulcan crash at Syerston sort of disprove the quote. Both aircraft broke up midair through no fault of the pilots. Both aircraft were pushing their collective envelopes during the era, and the data simply wasn't there for such accidents to be predictable and avoidable. In some cases it seems that tragedy almost had to happen for things to be learned. The loss of the BAC 1-11 prototype lead to the discovery of stall characteristics in rear-engined T-tail aircraft. The crash might potentially have been predicted perhaps, but the crash wasn't the result of carelessness, incapacity or neglect.

    Perhaps, looking to the future of pilotless and wholly automated commercial and freight aircraft, the quote is worth revisiting. There will be some that think that the only thing standing between us and 100% safe air travel is the bag of meat in the cockpit. However, a strong argument I've seen against pilotless commercial aircraft is that you need a good pilot to problem solve when things get hairy and there are cases out there of pilots who have recovered aircraft from almost entirely hopeless situations. I'm thinking specifically of the video of an almost entirely uncontrollable Tupolev TU-154 returned safely to the ground by a pilot using little more, apparently, than thrust alone after several of the control systems failed.

    Anyway, an interesting question to ponder. Perhaps this forum needs a Philosophy section?

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    Meddle is correct, there is more to safety than a well trained, competent pilot. I just finished re-reading Fate is the Hunter, and after a lifetime around aviation I know that sometimes "stuff happens".

    But at the same time, let's look at that statement and go beyond the primary aircrew. There are many accidents that could have been avoided if designers, engineers, senior staff, or test pilots had thought a bit more.

    The late Bill Gunston wrote about an early loss of a Comet when it failed to take off from Karachi. The pilot rotated too far and the ship went off the end of the runway. Gunston wrote "You would have thought someone would have anticipated the possibility of that happening" (a slight paraphrase) and addresses the issue before a minor error led to a major accident.
    But its credit, Aviation has been pretty adept at learning from past mistakes. Though that is cold comfort to the families of those lost.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

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    In my former professional flying career, which I survived without a scratch either to me, any aircraft, or any passenger, I lost a number of professional pilot friends, all of whom were exeptionally gifted, experienced, skilled and qualified, to flying accidents.
    In every single case the accident occurred not during professional military or airline flying but while hobby-flying light or vintage aircraft. In several cases unaccountable mistakes or loss of concentration were contributory.

    I regard this experience as evidence there is truth in this saying.
    Complete safety is entirely achievable by maintaining professional standards but let them slip even the tiniest degree and the results are likely to be severe.

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    Congratulations on such an impressive and safe career. I wonder if you also were involved in recreational flying.

    I am reminded of the old saying along the lines of - a superior pilot uses his superior judgement to avoid situations where he might be required to use his superior skills !

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    I completely endorse 'forester's' comment. Altho' I never flew professionally, during 55 years of GA activity, eleven of my friends and acquaintances engaged in recreational flying, bit the dust.

    I spent even longer at sea where the same caveats apply. The principal difference being that you generally have more time at sea than in the air to contemplate your mortality.

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    How are you John?

    It may well be (Ok, IS) flippant to mention, that in the many hours of aerobatics which comprised most of my flying, I never found flying itself to be dangerous in the least. On the three occasions I did nearly encounter a seriously "sub-optimal outcome", one was bad judgement, one bad luck and the other, an aircraft problem caused by an earlier pilot's mistake.

    In each case I formed the distinct impression that the "hitting the ground" part would have been more dangerous than the "flying" part

    I was lucky, in nearly 20 years of GA flying, I lost only four people I knew. Three of them whilst flying in a professional capacity (one commercial flying in PNG, one doing aerobatics and one on a medical flight).

    regards

    Darryl
    In Memory of:
    Flt Lt Tony Hill who successfully photographed a small "Würzburg radar" at Bruneval. 5th Dec 1941

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    Darryl, thank you, yes I'm well as I hope you are !

    At one time I thought that 'inherently dangerous' was a bit of an ott description. Now I think that it sits well with reality. I've pretty much always thought that the air and the sea were hostile environments. Passively hostile maybe but, hostile nevertheless.

    To enter these environments and vacate them unscathed required, so I thought, special consideration and planning. Remember all the 'p's' ? Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P#ss Poor Performance ! Whether due to that observation or, just luck, in all my time with GA I never experienced so much as an engine hiccup much less an occasion for seriously sweaty palms.

    Very different at sea. On one never-to-be-forgotten occasion, my palms leaked so much I almost had to resort to pumping the bilges. There were more than a handful of those moments on different voyages. The difference between the sea/air environment being that I had time to put right the problems caused by my own ineptitude.

    What is now my stance ? Whether at sea or in the air, plan for the worst.
    Last edited by John Green; 17th January 2018 at 17:36. Reason: Correction

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    Good to hear John, I'm fair to middling...just getting to that age where bits break by themselves rather than due to stupidity

    I'd agree on all counts, particularly as to water..... As Tolkien had The Gaffer say: " but they’re a queer breed, seemingly. They fool about with boats on that big river — and that isn’t natural. Small wonder that trouble came of it, I say."

    Even with my acquaintances' relatively lucky run with aviation, I have to say that in 52 years I have only ever known 3 people killed in car accidents and I'll warrant my friends have done a good bit more driving, than flying. The consequences of failure/error/misfortune in the air (or, obviously on water) are infinitely more severe than for normal land based activity.


    For mine, the prospect of death at sea is entirely unpalatable, due largely to the likelihood of it involving significant time, angst and teeth. Dying in the air never really worried me in the slightest. The very closest I came was literally "3 turns and a bang" away in a spin and my honest and simple thought at the time was "this isn't good, I don't think we are going to make this".

    Very best regards

    Darryl

    (Oh, the Bruneval Memorial pic takes a prominent place in my "cave". Thank you!)
    In Memory of:
    Flt Lt Tony Hill who successfully photographed a small "Würzburg radar" at Bruneval. 5th Dec 1941

  16. #16
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    Coming from a military background (RAF) I became used to the planning then briefing system following a format.This carried over to my sub aqua dive supervisor off duty exped and training times. Looking back at what went well and where we had an incident the service system coped by making you think about contingency. By contrast I have taken part in marine and aviation activity " organised" by others. The make it up as you go along process seemed the most common approach. Those with self confidence and ability to clearly be in charge had a good system in place. The lesson to be learned is to allow yourself and the team enough time before the activity to make a plan, do the checks, make the briefing.

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