A good one for analysis because the pilot hass been willing to talk about it.

First, we are happy that the pilot is able to discuss his brush with death and, secondly, that he is willing. In fact, he offered up the video, recorded by his brother-in-law, so the world could learn. He realizes the most important point to take away from this is how dangerous it is to take on marginal weather conditions.

If it doesn’t feel right, your risk of mishap indeed goes up. Success in the face of such feelings is misleading�that common logic error wrongly posits that not getting hurt in an dangerous endeavor means the endeavor is safe.

Many accidents, like this one, include the comment that something “wasn’t right” with either the weather or gear. In this case it first came before launch: the pilot put his gear away due to unfavorable kiting conditions. When it happens with equipment, we know about a problem, but think (hope) that it will last for one more flight. Usually that’s merely expensive, but it can be worse.


This accident was the subject of the February 2008 UltraFlight Incidents column which has more detail.

You can hear the crash being discussed on the PPG Radio show for Jan 15, 2008 with the pilot, John Black, and experienced maneuvers instructor Chris Santacroce. Besides being an extremely accomplished pilot, Chris has a realistic understanding about how humans behave in stressful situations.

The video is below.

Sometimes the launch decision is easy. Many other times, though, it’s not.