While the reduction in accidents in 2010 also
led to a reduced number of fatal accidents,
the percentage of fatal accidents versus all
accidents rose significantly.
these accident types have a very high
The year 2010 saw a 20 percent reduction in
the number of homebuilt accidents versus
the previous year. This is a bit more than the
normal yearly variation. But the most likely
cause is a reduction in total flying hours. An
increase in the ratio of fatal accidents may
be a byproduct of reduced pilot proficiency.
On the plus side, the 2010 data
seems to indicate that pilots are mak-
ing better decisions. This is high-
lighted by a 75 percent reduction in
the number of accidents caused by
buzzing or hitting obstructions while
flying low and fewer instances of “VFR
Finally, the past five years have seen
a continuous decline in the number of
accidents caused by mechanical issues.
Unlike many forms of recreation, the
major safety threats for private flying are
internal. Midairs aside (which are thankfully rare in any case), aircraft accidents
are caused by the machine itself or the
carbon-based life form piloting it.
Nowhere is this truer than in the
homebuilt aircraft world. The planes we
fly are built, maintained, flown, and often
designed by amateurs, and our accident
rates reflect this. Most of us can’t affect the
design issues, but we all should be working
on improving safety in the other three.
Ron Wanttaja, EAA 275698, is the author of two
aviation books, Kit Airplane Construction and Airplane
Ownership, as well as two young-adult historical novels
and numerous magazine articles. He owns a 1982 Bowers Fly Baby and maintains a Web page for devotees of
the design at www.BowersFlyBaby.com.