Here at Kitplanes, we are not just dedicated to helping people find, build and fly their experimental aircraft – we want to make sure that people do it safely so that they can do it for a long time. Most aviation magazines have some sort of “confessional” feature, a place where pilots can share their stories of mistakes or fate that lead to a harrowing few moments in the air. While maintenance issues can sometimes provide these stories, experimental aviation, by its very nature, can provide situations that are unique to our field – problems that can be traced back directly to building or design errors. Many times we make decisions during our build that can affect the safety of flight, and sometimes – we make poor decisions, or don’t foresee all of the consequences.
We all know that the statistics show most aviation mishaps are attributable to pilot error in one way or another. But…in the experimental world, a significant number can be traced back to errors in design, modifications that were not well thought out, or errors in construction. From fuel flow issues to fairings popping off and scaring the life out of the pilot – there is a wealth of stories that can help builders avoid similar mistakes and exciting moments.
Let’s face it, everyone makes the occasional mistake or does something that in retrospect, they wish they hadn’t. We’d like to share these with our readers and get more readers to submit their own. Anyone got a hair-raising and educational story?
As an example, we’ll start off with the fuel selector handle that slipped on this editor’s second flight in his RV-3 and caused a total loss of fuel flow, ending up safely on a gravel road. It is a simple story, as are most mishap stories – traceable to a single decision well in the past. These should be written in a narrative form, first person account style, about 1500 words long. Illustrations and pictures of pieces and parts that were the source of the problem would be valuable additions.