Wires are usually invisible, and always bad
WIRES, SUCH AS POWER lines and tower guy lines, are among the
worst things we face. They often can’t be seen, and they will take
you down without mercy if you get into them.
Wire strikes happen far too often to those of us flying very light
aircraft. That’s not to say that you or I will necessarily hit wires,
but rather that most of us know somebody who has or will. And
the encounter is always destructive and often deadly.
The fact is that wires are invisible most of the time. There is
something creepy about the way they can hide against almost any
backdrop, waiting to snare you. They can usually only be seen
from below, which is a bad place to view them from if you’re
airborne. It’s not that wires somehow have it in for us because
we’re flying light aircraft; it’s just that it’s
commonplace for us to fly, on average, much
lower than our heavier, faster brethren.
Of course, the pilots who get down really
low are helicopter pilots, and they pay a terrible price. The Helicopter Association
International (HAI) reports that there are
typically 66 wire strikes a year among helicopters, and of those, 30 percent result in
fatalities. A video about the subject can be
found on its website, www.Rotor.com. And
of those, 30 percent result in fatalities.
That 30 percent is consistent with what I’ve
seen over the past 30 years. I know of six local
ultralight, light-sport, and GA pilots who
have tangled with wires. Two were merely
roughed up and cast to the ground, with their
aircraft mangled but repairable.