I recently attended a useful seminar on avoiding mid-air collisions put on by the AOPA Air Safety Institute. The presenter was Bruce Belgum, who has a long and varied career in aviation.
Bruce stressed "See and avoid," the importance of keeping your eyes outside the cockpit, proper visual scanning (i.e., slow and in brief segments), and the fact that ATC sometimes makes mistakes so you have to keep your eyes open. He reminded us that most mid-airs happen close to airports.
I didn't take notes (it was dark in the room so we could see the slides), but Bruce mentioned toward the end of the program the Five Nevers of Aviation. I could only remember three of them, so I emailed Bruce. He was kind enough to sent me all five and gave me permission to post them here:
- You NEVER have to take off!
- NEVER fly without Seeing the Fuel! (i.e., don't rely on the fuel gauges, but look into the tanks)
- NEVER fly without using your checklist!
- Once airborne, you NEVER have to get there!
- You NEVER have to land on this approach. Always plan a go around too!
These are so basic that we tend to forget them. We shouldn't. Keeping them in mind and following them can save lives and aircraft.