April 5, 2010 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Aviation Lesson Learned … Successful Landings Must Equal Successful Take-offs OR Call the NTSB

Couldn’t decide if this was a Monday Accident or a Friday Joke. But when people are pulled from the wreckage by firefighters, it’s probably not a joke!

The Associate Press reported that a Piper Cherokee ran out of gas. The pilot tried to land on a county highway and didn’t quite make it (not successful landing).

As they say … Any landing you can walk away from is a successful landing.

In this case the pilot and the passenger were taken away by helicopter ambulance and an ambulance. Thus this was NOT a successful landing.

It seems that having enough gas to reach your destination would be part of a pre-flight checklist. If I were investigating this accident, I would be looking for the mistakes that were made that caused the gas to run out (calculation errors, just didn’t look, thought someone else was taking care of the gas, inaccurate readings, wrong fuel tank lined up, unusual fuel usage not noticed, …).

What can you learn from this accident? Even simple accidents need root cause analysis. Just because the pilot ran out of gas doesn’t mean that we know the root cause (pilot error anyone?). There is a lot of investigating before we are ready to say why the number of successful landings ≠ the number of successful take-offs.

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