What would you do if you see a pilot accident waiting to happen?

John Zimmerman has posted a thought provoking question in a recent issue of Air Facts Journal asking what would you do if you see a pilot acting in an unsafe manner. To first put things in perspective: John recalled an incident where he says he watched as a:

…pilot loaded himself and three other large adults into a rough-looking 172, clearly putting the airplane over maximum gross weight. To make matters worse, this was on a 95 degree day and at an airport with a 2500 ft. long runway. It really was an accident waiting to happen, but nobody intervened. Fortunately, the airplane staggered into the air and eventually disappeared over the horizon.

So what should he have done? Commenter Joseph pointed out that he will usually take the stance that the pilot should know better BUT the problem is with the passengers who are likely ignorant of the risks a pilot might be taking. Another problem that Joseph pointed out is with the “Politics” that occurs at most small airports. Hence, Joseph feels that if safety issues are recurring, the best thing to do might be just to report the pilot to the FAA.

Moreover, Hunter Health commented that in his or her aviation and non-aviation experience, the pilots/drivers/motorcyclists/boaters who did not maintain or inspect their machines, did not bother to use checklists, overloaded them, departed in conditions beyond the capability of their machines or their abilities, performed risky maneuvers etc. are, generally speaking: “Highly resistant to input from bystanders.”

Meanwhile, Garth Elliot suggested that one way to handle such situations would be to come up with a check off form and jot down everything you see a pilot do that is potentially dangerous or unwise – and then give it to the pilot.

However, we want to ask you our readers: What would you do if you see a pilot who is an accident waiting to happen? Would you confront the pilot or alert the proper authorities immediately? What would you do if you see a pilot who consistently acts in an unsafe manner?


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