Flying is such a glamorous profession.  I have a friend who is a retired commercial airline pilot, and he has flown all over the world.  He has many interesting stories to tell, and I have always been proud to know he and his crews took their passengers safely to their destinations.

In our series on Most Dangerous Jobs, flying is always on the top ten list.  Statistics show that most often commercial pilots are at less risk than those who fly small aircraft, such as crop dusters, banner planes, fire-fighting planes, air-taxi’s, etc.  Our skies are full of both large and small aircraft, and the future brings even more planes to transport us across the country, and world.  Reports indicate that for every 100,000 pilots, 88 perish annually.

Fifty per cent of active aircraft are considered small, and seventy-five per cent of pilots are licensed to fly only small aircraft.  Many times these pilots are landing in airports that do not have control towers.  Crop dusters work for long periods of time, fly low to the ground, and are exposed to chemicals.  Helicopters and medical flight crews provide air rescue services to stranded adventurers, or to ill patients who must be carried to specialized facilities.  All of these pilots of both large and small aircraft furnish needed transportation to the public.

Alaskan bush pilots have an even higher fatality rate than those who fly in the lower states.  They have to contend with weather conditions that can suddenly lower visibility, and fly in dangerous, mountainous terrains.

Other risks involved in flying are:

  • Pilot error;
  • In-flight icing;
  • In-flight instrument failure;
  • Improper loading;
  • Negligent maintenance;
  • Air traffic controller mistakes;
  • Defective onboard computers or software;
  • Poorly maintained equipment.

We don’t even have to think twice about the risks our military pilots and crews take in their careers.  How would you like to land one of those big helicopters in battle sites, or a guide a jet onto an aircraft carrier?  No, thanks, I will just stay behind my desk!

We have outlined just some of the risks that pilots face in their occupations. We’ve heard the saying, “flying in a plane is less dangerous than driving in a car.”  Those men and women who maneuver an airplane, either large or small, have my respect.