Situational Awareness Saves Lives

Recently in the USA a man was killed when a light aircraft making an unpowered emergency landing on a beach struck him while he was out jogging. He had an MP3 playing through ear pieces so there was no chance he could hear the whooshing through the air of the gliding aircraft. The pilot survived but no doubt will suffer to the end of his life over this accident.

Engineless planes make very little sound as they glide to earth. Perhaps a little more noise than actual purpose designed gliders but this crash was exacerbated by the fact the propeller of the aircraft had fallen off and the pilot’s vision was minimal due to an oil spray on the cockpit windscreen. Like most tragedies it wasn’t one, single event that led to the death of the jogger, a man with a three year old child. It was a series of often unrelated and by themselves fairly benign events that, combined, turned a hairy escape for a pilot into a tragic loss for someone else’s family.

The aircraft had an oil leak that covered the pilot’s windscreen, he also lost power and the propeller. The man was listening to an MP3 and running with his back to the approaching aircraft. One would presume there were few people on the beach at the time as nobody seems to have warned the runner of what was coming along behind him. Even if they had, would he have taken any notice let alone heard them?

What are the odds of going for a run on a beach and being hit by a crash landing light aircraft? How do you manage that risk? The only sensible advice I can offer is to never fixate on what is in front of you but to regularly scan 360 degrees and keep your finger on the pulse of everything around you, that’s awareness at work.

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