The Killing Zone: How & Why Pilots Die

Front Cover
McGraw Hill Professional, Jan 2, 2001 - Transportation - 304 pages
2 Reviews
This literal survival guide for new pilots identifies "the killing zone," the 40-250 flight hours during which unseasoned aviators are likely to commit lethal mistakes. Presents the statistics of how many pilots will die in the zone within a year; calls attention to the eight top pilot killers (such as "VFR into IFR," "Takeoff and Climb"); and maps strategies for avoiding, diverting, correcting, and managing the dangers. Includes a Pilot Personality Self-Assessment Exercise that identifies pilot "types" and how each type can best react to survive the killing zone.

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Thanks to the reviewer who correctly identified that frequencies and rates are not interchangeable - but a careful read of "The Killing Zone" will reveal that I addressed this statistical situation and the premise of the book's central theme - that a killing zone exists - holds up. Thanks for your comment and your review of the book. I hope that the tips and techniques discussed in the book will save lives and eliminate the killing zone - no matter what statistical calculation is made!
Dr. Paul A. Craig

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Unfortunately, Craig repeatedly commits a rather serious statistical error in this book. He uses accident frequency counts, rather than accident rates, as the statistical basis for his conclusions about the range of the "killing zone." Frequency counts are interesting, of course, but they don't account for the number of pilots at each range of flight hours (which accounts for most of the effect he claims). Therefore, they say little about the risk that you yourself face as your flight experience increases. My concern is the nature of that zone, and that we use the right methodologies to explore the issue. You'll have to forgive me for being geeky about this. It's just that it's part of what I do for a well-known agency having to do with aviation (which can't be named, because I'm speaking here as a private citizen).
Statistically, rates aren't interchangeable with frequencies. Rates subtract the effect of how many individuals are present in each "bin" of a frequency distribution (in this case, the y-axis, where the x-axis would be flight hours). In fact, it appears that about 70% of the "zone" may be an artifact, and can be explained just by the fact that the frequency distribution of NON-accident pilots looks nearly identical to the distribution of accident pilots. See my paper regarding this.
Bottom line: The kind of analysis we use on data like these is very tricky, is all I'm saying.


Chapter 1 The Killing Zone
Chapter 2 The Dangers
Chapter 3 Continued VFR into IFR Conditions
Chapter 4 Maneuvering Flight
Chapter 5 Takeoff and Climb
Chapter 6 Approach and Landing
Chapter 7 Runway Incursion
Chapter 8 Midair Collision
Chapter 12 Ice
Chapter 13 The Effects of Advanced Flight Training
Chapter 14 Instrument Flight CFIT
Chapter 15 Advanced Aircraft Accidents
Chapter 16 Pilot Personality
Chapter 17 Airmanship
Chapter 18 Accidents and the Media
Accident Statistics

Chapter 9 Fuel Management
Chapter 10 Pilot Health Alcohol and Drugs
Chapter 11 Night Flying

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About the author (2001)

Paul A. Craig, Ed.D., longtime pilot, FAA award-winning flight instructor, and aviation educator and author, designed and conducted the research described in this book based on his lifelong concern with the high accident rate among general aviation pilots, and in the process of earning his doctorate in education, with special empahsis on pilot decision-making and flight training. A Gold Seal Multiengine Flight Instructor and twice FAA District Flight Instructor of the Year, he has spoken widely to flight instructors and others on improving flight training and safety. He is the author of Be a Better Pilot; Stalls & Spins; Multiengine Flying, 2nd Edition; and Light Airplane Navigation Essentials, all from McGraw-Hill's renowned Practical Flying Series.

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