Happy New Year to one and all! I trust you all had a great holiday season! Apparently, Santa and the reindeer did a great job of landing on everyone’s roof since I did not see any Santa accident reports or any reports of roof damage. May this coming year be your best yet, and as the Arizona aviation community, let’s try to make 2019 the safest year on record.

GAARMS in review:

It appears as of the date I finished this article (December 26th), there were no fatal accidents in December to add to our totals. That is the good news. Unfortunately, our fatal accident record for 2018 went the wrong way, surpassing both 2016 and 2017, with the total number of fatal accidents climbing to 8 and the total number of fatalities climbing to 15. As you can see in the chart below, the accident rate over the past 10 years (when GAARMS first started) reflected a significant improving trend, 6 or less for the past 3 years. I optimistically hope 2018 was just a blip on the radar, an anomaly that we need to fix in this coming year. Hopefully, we can re-establish the positive trend we have been on for the previous three years.

gaarms fatal accident trend analysis 2005 2018

As I stated in last month’s article, about 50% of the 2018 fatal accidents occurred with pilots trying to maintain or improve that record. They were out practicing takeoffs and landings, working on maintaining and improving their proficiency and safety! Two were stall/spin loss of control accidents, and two appear to be CFIT, but those categorical classifications were the end result, not the cause. It is the actual causal factors that we learn from…

gaarms fatal accident trend analysis 2005 2018 number of pilots killed

All of this will be discussed at GAARMS VIII coming up on March 23rd, 2019, at the AeroGuard Flight Facility on the Deer Valley Airport. My thanks to Aeroguard for their support and to Tina and Ernie at the SDL FSDO for their coordination effort in reserving the facility for me. Watch for an announcement in our newsletter and on FAASAFETY.GOV, and we hope to see many of you there!

gaarms ooh i like your approach

Fred’s Perspective…


We are all human – so I’m told – and we all make mistakes in life. If we choose to fly, those mistakes can be serious and sometimes deadly. I have never met a pilot who woke up in the morning and said, “I think I will go out and kill myself in my airplane today.” All that I have ever heard was, “I am going out to fly my airplane today and have a great time.” However, occasionally FATE, the consummate hunter, rears its ugly head and the accident is just the final result of a health issue. Even with a current medical, continuous yearly check-ups and cardio exams, our bodies can fail us! Sometimes the 3rd class, 2nd class, or even the 1st class medical means nothing! Fate is a deadly hunter: It doesn’t care who you are, what class medical you have, where you are, or what you are doing! So, I leave you with these 2 questions–

“How do you know when your number is up?

How do you know when you run out of invisible Ink?”

As the Safety Program Director for many a year here at APA, and currently the Safety Program Director-at-Large, I have long supported and pursued a Four 9’s Safety Program, that is, A 99.99% safety record, or put another way, only a 00.01% pilot fatality rate per year. That equates out to a 1-in-10,000 safety record, or again, in plain English, only 1 fatality per 10,000 pilots. In 2018, we had 8 Arizona-based pilot fatalities per our roughly 26,000 pilots, a safety record of 99.97%, or a fatality rate of 00.03%. So that should to be our goal for 2019 – A 99.99% year, a 1 in 10,000 safety record, only 2.6 pilots being killed. However, like I said last month, there is still a problem with that –

I still have not found any volunteers for those 2.6 positions!

gaarms 2019 four 9s program 1

While I cannot find a direct correlation between GAARMS and the improvement of the accident rate, I would like to think that the awareness of the accident rate, our continuous attention to the accident rate, and our continuous stream of information to you, in the aviation community, raised your awareness of the importance of aviation safety. APA’s commitment is to all of you, our membership and the entire pilot community. Improving aviation safety is an ongoing and relentless effort, and we are proud to be a significant part of the FAA’s FAASTeam program. We continue to present WINGS safety programs state-wide in concert with the Scottsdale FSDO and to present our yearly GAARMS symposium covering the previous year’s fatal accidents. Ironically, statistics indicate that the overwhelming majority – in fact almost all – of the pilots involved in a fatal accident over the past 13 years did NOT participate in the WINGS safety programs, and that trend continues to hold true for 2018 as well. One of our primary efforts is to increase the participation of the pilot community in those programs. Those of you who attend regularly are always urged to bring another pilot with you, to help us spread the word and get more folks involved.

Kudo’s Section -

Back on Saturday morning, December 1st, I held my annual “Winter Wonderland” safety program up here in beautiful Flagstaff, although that day was not quite up to that standard. It had just snowed the day before and was downright cold. “Winter wonderland” is all about winter flying, care of your airplane in those conditions, and the potential hazards of winter conditions. Along with that, the airport manager discussed airport operations and the ongoing effort of re-writing and updating airport rules and regulations, and one of our outstanding tower controllers led a super discussion on airport operations and the need for GOOD radio procedures and phraseology. It was a great program, well received and well attended.

gaarms 2019 four 9s program 2

But the kudo’s really go out to all the folks behind the scenes who made it work. Orville Wiseman, FBO owner, always supports the programs, participates in the programs, AND is a WINGS participant. Without his support, these programs would not be nearly as successful. Barney Helmick, Airport Manager, always supports the programs, participates in the programs, AND is a WINGS participant as well. Without his support, these programs would not be nearly as successful. The Tower Manager and/or the controllers always participate in the programs – on their own time I might add – and are a great contributor to the safety culture here at Flag.

There are also three other groups responsible for the great safety culture here at Flag:

  • The local EAA chapter is always ready to support safety programs. They provide logistical support, they provide set up help, they provide donuts and coffee, they encourage their members to participate and they actively participate in the programs with inputs, discussion points, and great questions.
  • Wiseman Aviation actively supports all of our safety programs, providing facilities, logistical support, kitchen facilities, sound systems, and a clean neat facility to hold the meetings.
  • And then there is the pilot community. We normally get between 30 and 40 folks show up at our meetings, a good crowd for a small aviation community. Our community takes aviation safety seriously, and because our aviation community is very diverse, ranging from low-time student pilots, corporate pilots, current and former airline pilots, air ambulance and DPS helicopter pilots, the discussions are always educational. The quality of feedback significantly enhances the presentations.

The safety culture is not successful because I put on a safety program: It is successful because the pilot community sees the value in participating in the process. That is what makes a safety culture successful!

My kudos go out to all those folks behind the scenes who make the safety program work…


There are a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months all around the state, so go to WWW.FAASAFETY.GOV and click on “Seminars” and check them out. You might find one that interests you. Should you desire a particular safety or educational program at your local airport or pilot meeting, simply contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call me at 410-206-3753. The Arizona Pilots Association provides these safety programs at no charge. We can also help you organize a program of your choice, and we can recommend programs that your pilot community might really like.

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