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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [IAC] Accidents


Thread: [IAC] Accidents

Message: Re: [IAC] Accidents

Follow-Up To: ACRO Email list (for List Members only)

From: "Damon Wack" <lomcevak at>

Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 16:04:55 UTC


  As this is a safety issue, I have to respectfully disagree with you on this
one Mike.  I don't think anyone can argue with the fact that the higher you
are, the more options you have.  It all comes down to how much calculated
risk you are willing to assume.  Fly lower, and you are assuming more risk,
regardless of pilot skill and training.

When I get my plane built, and begin the test flying phase, I will be
climbing to at least 6000'.  Sure I'll come down as I get more time and
confidence in the plane, but I will be safer at the higher altitude.  That's
just a simple fact, no matter how good a pilot I am, the higher altitudes
give me more time, more options.

Even in a plane I am familiar with, I would climb way up to practice new
manuevers, or just any new, unfamiliar routine, airshow or competition.
Once I am familiar with the airspeed and altitude loss of various maneuvers
and routines, I will bring it down some.

Even so, I still stay 1000' to 1500' above contest alttitudes unless I am
practicing positioning in a marked box,  as box visual cues are very
different at different altitudes.  Also, if I am receiving ground critique I
will stay lower, just to be seen more easily.  Otherwise there is no real
reason to be at contest altitudes.  Also, for those of us in colder climes
flying at higher altitudes is good high density altitude simulation for
flying on hot, humid days at those southern contests.

I certainly don't disagree that good training is also a key ingrediant to
safe flying, but ALL the spin training I was given took place at 6000' agl
or better.  EVERY instructor I had insisted on it.  When I give spin
training, I do the same.  I think it's just common sense.

I can't comment on the cause(s) of Kathy's accident, I never met her, and
have no idea on her training or skill level.  However, my good friend Steve
Hill was suprised practicing spins in his Staudacher a few years back, when
the aircraft exhibited some new spin characteristics, during an aggressive
recovery.  Steve is a good pilot, well trained, and very familiar with his
airplane. But without the bit of extra altitude he had, he probably would
not have recovered in time.  I don't remember the exact details, but I think
he wrote an article about the experience in SA as well.

Certainly some folks are safer than others at lower altitudes, because of
experience or pilot ability or both, and as you say, some may not be safe at
any altitude.  I can only judge that for myself though.  I try to assess the
reward with the risk, and reduce the risk as much as I can. Unless I have a
specific reason for being lower, it only makes sense to have more options
available and stay high.  Like they say, nothing more useless than altitude
above you, or runway behind!


Damon Wack
Birchwood WI


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