Friday, 17 November 2017

A sad day in aviation

My thoughts tonight are with the families of the four people who died in a mid air collision between a light aircraft and a helicopter, near Aylesbury.
Both aircraft had originated their flights at Wycombe Air Park near High Wycomb, the Cessna 152 on a local pilot training detail, and the Cabri G2 light helicopter on a flight to an as yet unannounced destination, the crash taking place some 15 miles north of the airfield. Both aircraft were 2-seat, and all 4 occupants died in the accident.
Weather conditions are reported to have been 'perfect', a superb flying day with excellent visibility. Unfortunately excellent visibility makes aircraft crews less likely to see each other in the air as ground features stand out clearly and the aircraft blend into this cluttered background. On less clear days other aeroplanes are more easily seen against the misty sky.
The crash took place in uncontrolled airspace where most small aeroplanes fly, on a see-and-be-seen basis. Commercial traffic flies in controlled airspace under radar surveillance by air traffic control who keep them safely separated.
There is nothing inherently dangerous about uncontrolled airspace. I flew mostly in that environment for well over 30 years. The sky is a big place and the chance of two aircraft being in the same place at the same height at precisely the same time is infinitesimally small.
But very occasionally it does happen. And today, sadly, it did.

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