Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lucky escape for mid air jet & glider collision near Reno

I flew gliders a lot in Minden, Nevada these past 10 years - its the valley below Heavenly Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe and I last visited there in November 2005 to do a spot of gliding.

Anyway a mid air collision between an ASW 27 high performance glider and a Hawker executive jet happened 2 days ago. Fortunately all parties survived though the glider pilot had to bail out and parachute to safety into the mountains whilst the jet landed on its belly at Carson City airport. Interesting flight which I am sure will give them all something to tell their respective grand kids!

I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and say this was an accident waiting to happen like so many others are saying as I have soared the Pinenut Mountains (the location of the mid air collision) and I don't believe that for an instant.

If you don't glide or fly then its easy to imagine glider pilots are dangerous as hard to see due to their small size and the skies are so full of power planes then gliders shouldn't be there.

Small power aircraft are also hard to spot and a view from a slow moving glider is far better than from a powered jet travelling at 300 mph!

Why neither pilot saw each other will be discovered in any air accident investigation - I used to spot jets with plenty of time to move out of their way - even if the rules do state powered aircraft give way to gliders!

All pilots are trained to carry out a thorough lookout as part of our flying training and it is drummed in on every flight review we carry out. Lookout, Lookout, LOOKOUT...

Accidents in life do happen and risks are what drive us humans forward - its an unfortunate part of life.

Thankfully there was no loss of life in this instance - maybe some lost pride and a couple of wrecked aircraft but nothing else.

Finally if you've never gone gliding and you find yourself in the Minden area I would not hesitate to have a go. Gliding over the Sierra Nevadas is one experience in life you do not want to miss! (Even if you do have to avoid the occasional jet coming into Reno!)