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Feature Article: When A Pilot Dies
Two of my pilots have died in airplane crashes. One, I had
advised to quit and I thought that he had. Three years later,
after his death, I found that he had gone to a friend of mine
to finish up his instruction only to kill himself flying home
after passing his flight test. The other tried to follow a car
along a dirt road filled with family members while flying at
low altitude. Stall; spin only a week after passing the flight
test. Took a son down with him. I have never been the same.
My question has always been, "What was my responsibility?"
I know I failed as a teacher at some point in their past. I have
spent considerable time since these events wondering what I could
have, should have, done and said. I am much more willing to talk
about the student who stole a club plane, took a bottle of whiskey
and proceeded to circle at altitude over the S.F. Bay area while
drinking until unconscious. He passed out. The aircraft was so
well trimmed that it flew him all the way across the Sierras
and eventually crashed into the Nevada desert. Plane totaled
but student was not injured. Student had not flown with me for
over four months but club felt that I had been at least partially
responsible. Club nearly went under since they only had one plane.
Responsibility? Accountability? If I only knew.
On the other hand, I have taught students who went on to become
airline pilots, military pilots, commercial pilots but most have
flown for years as private pilots. I have never counted how many
successes and failures I have had. We lose touch all too easily
in today's world. Now, on the internet I have touched the lives
of more pilots than ever. Hardly a week goes by but that some
internet friend writes to thank me for the influence what I have
written has had on their lives. Responsibility? Accountability?
If I only knew.
On the internet I can no longer know ahead of time that the student
who has read my material has used it as a jumping-off point for
higher ratings and certificates. I can no longer take advantage
of my in-cockpit opportunities to learn more from my student
than they learn from me.
Last Modified March 18, ©2018 TAGE.COM