Wife Test

I understand statistical arguments. There is not an adequate sample size of aircraft flying to reach meaningful conclusions. Wives don’t pay much attention to the statistical mumbo jumbo. Nine aircraft have either crashed or suffered a catastrophic engine failure. It’s hard to explain that away to a spouse who is worried. I see similarities in these threads to years of discussions about homebuilt open frame gyroplanes. They have many theoretical safety advantages. Their fans (of which I am one) have been hesitant to admit that the crashes were due to anything other than poor pilot training, poor judgement, weather, mechanical problems not unique to the design, etc. The fact is, these gyroplanes are exceedingly dangerous. It does potential gyroplane pilots no good to imply otherwise. Our organizations for years painted an inaccurate picture of the safety of gyros. Bravo to all of you in this forum for discussing these problems so openly. You will prevent many accidents by doing so, in my opinion.Clark Jernigan

Clark, you’ve touched upon two important points, I think:

  1. Fans of a particular “thing” can blind themselves to realities that conflict with their particular opinions or vested interests

  2. Others often close themselves off to a particular “thing” because of their emotional reaction (i.e. fear) to bad news.

Neither of these behaviours works well for the people involved. Life is never risk-free, but the successful enjoyment of a long and productive life requires that we make rational and well informed decisions to achieve a personal balance between involvement in life activities and the risk that accompanies them.

I fly small planes even though I know that there is a finite chance that I will die while doing so, but I assess and manage that risk in order to reduce it to a level that is amply rewarded by the pleasure and utility I gain from the activity. I presume you do the same with gyroplanes.

Speaking of which, why are gyroplanes inherently dangerous, and what do you do about it, assuming you do still fly them?

I understand statistical arguments… Wives don’t pay much attention to the statistical mumbo jumbo.

This sounds like a remarkably misogynistic statement (“those dumb women don’t understand math, do they?”). This irritated me to no end, until I read…

I see similarities in these threads to years of discussions about homebuilt open frame gyroplanes.

… and realized that I’d been taken in by a master satirist. Comparing a Cirrus to a gyroplane is the funniest thing I’ve heard in months! Thanks for the hilarious post.[:D]
— The Gyro Captain

http://www.madmikes.net/gotgas.wavGyro Captain Sound 1

http://www.madmikes.net/eatit.wavGyro Captain Sound 2

I certainly understand the “wife test”! - LOL - It took me several years and finally forcing her to take a graduate statistics class to get her over the herd mentality, but she finally does see the difference between perceived and actual risk, and knows to always question the #s before believing the conclusions…

BTW, I pulled a couple of #s off the NTSB web site tonight: There have been 15 piston aircraft crashes within a 10 nm radius of my house in the last 18 months. Also, there is a privately owned, public use airport (A53) 3 nm from my house. Using the logic presented in the related forum threads on safety of Cirri, this extremely high incidence density near my house and this airport relative to the total land area of the US or the total # of airports would demand that everyone quit flying near my house for fear of crashing! It doesn’t matter WHY the planes crashed, just that they DID crash, so don’t fly over my house any more!

(It doesn’t take into account that 8 of those crashes were CFIT - I live right on top of the appalachian mtns.- , 1 was an engine failure, 1 was a stall/spin in high wind shear, and the rest were post-landing incidents where the pilots overran the runway because they came in high and fast (A53 is 2200 ft long, 35 ft wide).

Clark, would you mind listing the nine Cirrus crashes or engine failures you referred to. I haven’t kept track, but I recall the test pilot, an engine failure in Ga., the landing of the new “22”, the Ariz CFIT, the Kentucky IFR, the the latest in NY. What were the others?

Clyde, I do still fly them. They’re addicting. Many open frame design gyros have negative divergence in pitch stability. Like a unicycle, they can be mastered but they require much more attention than aircraft with positive pitch stability.Clark

Great post, airboy!

No discussion of the ability of humans to turn innocent machines bad is complete without a thorough review of this video, best viewed if you have a broadband connection.

Bad idea, poorly executed. (Good F=ma demonstration, though.)

Gordon, I’ve seen a better quality version of that same video and the kid actually lands pretty much on his feet and doesn’t appear to be hurt. Just shows you that any landing you walk away from is a good one.

Gordon, I’m not sure but I think that may have been my gyroplane instructor. Is the cyclist from Kentucky?Clark


Thank you for explaining these points!

A useful non-technical introduction to evaluating risks (and to avoiding common conceptual pitfalls associated with their evaluation) is H. W. Lewis’s http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393308294/Technological Risk.


The other factor that many have a hard time understanding is the difference between correlation and causation. All sorts of correlations can be drawn with no light shed on causation. I’m fond of telling patients that every man in the US who has prostate cancer had, at least one time in his life, a dollar bill in his pocket - the correlation is 100% yet nobody would think there was a causal link. We are bombarded in the press with multiple correlations. Most of them are irrelevant.

In reply to:

Gordon, I’ve seen a better quality version of that same video and the kid actually lands pretty much on his feet and doesn’t appear to be hurt. Just shows you that any landing you walk away from is a good one.

Now the questions remain: Can he log it as PIC time? How about cross country (for purposes of qualifying to take the ATP written)?

I keep my porch light on every night and have never seen a tiger outside my home. Therefore, my porch light keeps my home safe from tigers! :>)

Association is most definitely NOT the same thing as causation.


Lessee, the snapped crankshaft in IL, the CFI checkout runway overrun, and the runway overrun in Lincoln NB. The FAA incident report for the last one was my favorite. The entry under “last clearance” was “long landing approved.”

Doug, Here are the 9 I referred to:Prototype crashcatastrophic engine failure in Wisconsin, one of the first few deliveredGeorgia thunderstorm crashSr22 runway crash hitting old DC3Lexington crashArizona mountain crashCornfield crash with no oil in engineInstructor crash when landing straight ahead without a long enough runwayRecent New york eventClark

Don’t forget the SR20 that threw a couple rods during a night flight in Ft.Myers, Fla. Pilot did a great job dead sticking at an alternate field. I flew this plane a few months prior. Word of advise. Manage your oil temps and fuel mixture very closely during hot weather operations.

Of those, the Wisconsin engine failure and the “instructor crash” are not in the NTSB database, nor is the other one mentioned in the followup, presumably because they didn’t qualify as “accidents”. While you might say that they are still “significant”, which is true, there is no point counting them if you are trying to compare with other aircraft statistics, because the NTSB records are the only data available to compare with (and other aircraft certainly have “incidents” that don’t make it into the “accident” database, too).

And the “prototype crash” was an experimental aircraft, not certified, and quite different in certain key respects to the production models. The NTSB report on that one makes interesting reading, incidentally, not least because it highlighted a deficiency in the FAR-23 standard (checking wing-aileron clearances under load).

Clyde, I realize that some Cirrus events are not in the NTSB database. I’m not sure what is required to be in their listing. It does appear that each of the catastrophic engine failures or airplane crashes described above did happen. I forgot about the Fla. engine failure. I try to be very accurate with information I post. I believe that my earlier post is accurate. I am not implying cause or jumping into the statistics ring; simply stating that many aircraft have come to major grief. Clark