Avoiding military flight activity

John Ewing has recently written an interesting post on Aviation Mentor about a topic that is not written about very often: How to avoid fast moving military aircraft activity. He began his post by noting an incident that involved an Air Force F-16CG colliding in mid air with a Cessna 172 over Florida. The Air Force pilot was able to eject from his aircraft with only minor injuries but the Cessna pilot was not so fortunate and he ended up loosing his life.

John then wrote about the following three keys to safely sharing airspace with fast moving military aircraft:

  1. Understand what is regulatory and non-regulatory airspace. This includes special use and other airspace.
  2. Know where military aircraft are scheduled to be operating.
  3. Recognize the limits of "see and avoid.”

John also wrote more in-depth about the limits of “see and avoid” and he noted that most traffic collision avoidance is accomplished using this technique. However and in the case of the collision between the F-16 and the Cessna, the closure rate between the two accident aircraft was just over 20 seconds between the time that ATC received a conflict alert and when the impact occurred. 

Ironically though, the biggest single factor that caused the collision was that it occurred inside Class C airspace where the Cessna pilot least expected to encounter fast moving fighters. In fact, the F-16 was involved in a training exercise and was actually off course by several miles. In other words, you should always be prepared for the unexpected when you are up in the sky.



One Response to Avoiding military flight activity

  1. Melvyn R. (Mel) Tich February 11, 2011 at 04:54 #


    In teaching about collision avoidance the topic of Sun blindness should be covered. When fiying South in the AM others flying West may be coming out of the sun toward you. You may not have 20 seconds because of your sun blindness. A visor on your left will not only block the sun but it may also block your view of other planes.

    Get your 100% U V protection Ray-Ban sunglasses tint reduced from the top of the dash so you can have sun protection and still read instruments and charts. Yes zig zag and keep this all under your cap…Mel

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