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You will see people site the statistic that flying is safer than driving. This is a bit disingenuous
when applied to general aviation. This statistic is due to the outstanding safety of airline travel.
So what about general aviation (e.g., small planes)?
While it is more dangerous than driving in a car or on a commercial flight, it isn't that high with
about 1.3 fatalilties per 100,000 flight hours (possibly closer to 2 for personal flying). As a
comparison, Motorcycles have a rate of 39 fatalities per 100 million miles. If we use an
unreasonably slow average GA speed of 110 miles/hr, we get a rate that's half as dangerous
(and with a higher average speed, we get an even lower rate).
What's interesting here, and relevant to the motorcycle comparison, is the cause of these
accidents. Per the NTSB, the largest cause is "loss of control in flight", (and #2 is "controlled
flight into terrain") which are often (but not always) code words for "a pilot not qualified to go
into instrument conditions proceeds into adverse weather" or "A plane not equipped for a certain
type of weather proceeds into that weather." Both of these are often issues with inadequate pilot
decision making. If you are a careful pilot, with a clear set of go/no-go rules, and good
training many of these accidents are avoidable, and the rate should be lower or much
Did you know?...
There are two questions most potential
student pilot asks first:
• How safe is flying?
• How much will this cost?
Interestingly, the order in which
students ask these questions tell the
instructor something about the
prospective students, and sometimes
guide our initial conversations about
safety with the student