Beware Stationary Objects

How can you tell if you’re on a collision course with another airplane? Your biggest clue will be that there will be no relative motion between your airplane and the other aircraft. If you can maneuver in such a way to make the other aircraft appear as though it’s moving relative to your location in the sky, you have altered course enough to avoid running into each other.

That sounds pretty straightforward, but remember: The human eye is more sensitive to movement in peripheral vision, and as a result an object that doesn’t appear to be moving is harder to detect. That’s why you must actively scan the sky, normally in short intervals by focusing on about 10 degrees of the sky at a time.

Of course, this doesn’t help much if the other airplane is directly behind you and faster, which is often the case. Here are some interesting facts to ponder about midairs:

· They usually take place during daylight hours.
· The skies are usually clear at the time of the collision.
· They most often occur between airplanes that are not talking to ATC.
· They usually happen within 3,000 feet of the ground, with a faster airplane overtaking a slower one.
· Airplanes involved in midairs approach head on only about 5 percent of the time.
· About 75 percent of all midairs happen within five miles of an airport.
· Midair collisions are usually fatal.

Whenever possible, ask passengers to help you spot traffic, contact ATC for traffic advisories and announce your position and intentions over the CTAF when in the traffic pattern. Anything you can do to minimize your risk of having a midair collision adds another layer of protection that could make all the difference.


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