Kiri's Reviews > The Killing Zone: How & Why Pilots Die

The Killing Zone by Paul A. Craig
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it was amazing
bookshelves: flying

Powerful and impactful - this is a book I'll return to over time. The author posits that there is a "killing zone" in which most pilot fatalities happen, based on NTSB accident statistics. He points to the region of pilot experience between 50 and 350 flying hours. There are some issues with how exactly this zone should be defined, but that doesn't really matter - it's just motivation for getting you to read the main content of the book, which is an analysis of reasons that pilots die, and how to avoid that fate. It's a bit of a grim book to read, in which 95% of the characters die (he also has stories from a few "Killing Zone Survivors"), but it is eye-opening and educational to see what can go wrong before you end up experiencing it yourself.

And the content is not presented in a voyeuristic way. As the author put it:
"The accidents used for examples throughout this book are used only with the greatest respect for the victims. By using the fatal accidents of fellow pilots as a learning tool, it is as if they have signed an "organ donor card" back to us. Their tragedy may be of value saving the life of another pilot."

One wonders if a similar strategy could be employed to help us all improve as automobile drivers as well.

The chapters describe accident conditions that are organized in decreasing order of likelihood (based on accident records). They cover the usual suspects: VFR into IMC, maneuvering, takeoff/climb, approach/landing, runway incursions, midair collisions, fuel exhaustion (yes, really), etc. We all know that these are risks, but I think it has more impact when you read the stories about folks who lost their lives.

It's a fine line between being educated about all the risks and being paralyzed by fear. This book isn't out to scare you into paralysis. In the end, it is empowering: in almost every case, the outcomes could have been avoided by making different decisions. That is, the outcome was under pilot control. Knowledge and experience can help one make better decisions. This books helps you short-cut the process of gaining enough experience by seeing through other pilots' eyes. Onward and upward!

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Reading Progress

December 31, 2018 – Shelved
December 31, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 20, 2019 – Started Reading
January 20, 2019 – Shelved as: flying
February 24, 2019 – Finished Reading

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