Avoiding Loss of Control

Loss of control tops NTSB’s ‘Most Wanted’ safety list. Sudbury Aviation

It's one thing to tell a pilot "Avoid loss of control!" of his or her airplane in flight, but providing additional tutelage on exactly how to prevent such a dangerous situation from developing in the first place is a completely different matter.

That's because there are so many ways to lose control that you probably haven't even thought about them all. But you need to be prepared for any potential scenario to avoid becoming an accident statistic. What to do?

The FAA and NTSB say loss of control is the number one cause of fatal GA airplane accidents, accounting for the majority of the 450 or so deaths each year in recreational and personal flying.

Like in so many instances related to aviation, avoiding loss of control risks is a matter of breaking the first link in the chain of events leading to an unrecoverable loss of control or breaking the link after loss of control has begun (which, by the way, is much harder to do).

This starts with gaining a thorough understanding of aerodynamics as they relate to stalls and angle of attack. It's also useful to have a good working knowledge of the flight conditions that can ratchet up loss of control risks, such as encountering a tailwind on the base-to-final leg in the traffic pattern.

Thankfully the FAA offers pilots some guidance to help them avoid loss of control, in the form of a free online course covering the most prevalent dangers. The course can't possibly cover every conceivable loss of control scenario, but it's a great jumping off point that very well could help break the accident chain for pilots who heed the advice and knowledge it offers.

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