If only…

By MARK JARRATT

Hundreds and hundreds of people. Family, friends, business associates, and employees. Every seat in the large church sanctuary is filled. Others are standing along the walls. The foyer and hallways are so crowded that more stand outside, roasting in the sun, straining to hear the memorial service being broadcast over speakers. All parking lots are full, and illegally parked cars choke the road for hundreds of yards in both directions. No dry eyes.

So many lives so profoundly impacted. So many futures changed forever.  If only…

My friend and his passenger died in an airplane crash.

I’ve seen turnouts like this before, when young people die suddenly while living life to the fullest. These two gentlemen were well known and respected in their community and served others for most of their time on this earth. They were humorous, articulate, and responsible. They loved and provided well for their families, friends, and employees.

In our busy age it’s a great tribute that so many have made the effort to pay their respects and offer comfort and condolences to the suffering families as they start dealing with their own grief.

This has become a far too frequent occurrence for me, and I’m getting a little tired of it. I’ve lost 16 friends and numerous acquaintances in aircraft mishaps. So far.

Of my friends, four died in military training and combat, and all the rest in general aviation. Nearly all were highly skilled with decades of experience in all sorts of aircraft and conditions. And I miss these good men and women every single day.

I’ve only known two people who died in traffic accidents, one of whom was riding a motorcycle. But anyone who tells you that flying is safer than driving is probably talking about airline flying. Either that or they’re misinformed.

And in this instance at least, the old flying adage holds true: “If you crash because of weather, your funeral will be held on a sunny day.”

How do qualified, well-trained pilots lose their lives?

My friends perished due to various causes. Continued VFR into IMC, midair collision, severe turbulence in mountains, flight control malfunction, low altitude stall/spin, descending below approach minimums in IMC, flying up blind canyons, attempting a go-around from a one-way strip, and catastrophic engine failure. There was no hotdogging, buzzing, or overt recklessness involved. All these pilots just wanted to complete normal flights.

I

This post was originally published by General Aviation News on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.

Leave a Reply