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Accidents resulting from medical issues



 
 
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  #1  
Old September 11th 18, 08:16 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Mike the Strike
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Posts: 905
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

In recent discussions on accidents, there seems to be an assumption that a common cause is older pilots losing control - perhaps forgetting after fifty years how to do a coordinated turn. I have long suspected that many accidents may have a medical component resulting from the pilot becoming partially or totally incapacitated. Underlying medical issues may not be easy to find in a post mortem where a pilot was still alive on hitting the ground - the resulting trauma might easily conceal underlying issues.

I experienced such an issue a year ago on the third day of the TUSC OLC cross-country event. While doing a low save over rather unfriendly terrain, I suddenly experienced sharp pain and cramps in my left leg that left it almost completely disabled. Fortunately, I was able to return home doing mostly right turns and landed safely. This was caused by a deep-vein thrombosis (blood clot) in the major vein near my left knee.

Such clots are popularly called “coach class syndrome” and are often triggered by positional immobility. You can’t get much more immobile than in a racing glider cockpit! Contributing factors were dehydration, low blood oxygen and an inherited genetic condition that predisposes blood clotting. (This is shared by about 5% of people of European descent). Now properly diagnosed and treated, I am cleared to fly again, but in addition to anti%coagulant medication I take extra precautiions by keeping well hydrated, using oxygen at lower altitudes and limiting the length of my flights.

If the clot had broken and penetrated my lungs (not uncommon) the resulting pulmonary embolism could have been fatal or at least severely disabling. I could easily have ended up as one of the recent accident statistics with more questions than answers.

This is but one example of medical conditions that can overtake anyone, but especially older individuals, and that might lead to loss of control while flying. There are quite a few others too!

Mike
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  #2  
Old September 11th 18, 11:03 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
[email protected]
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Posts: 16
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

One of the bestg known examples, taken from Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_J...r_pilot)#Death

"Dick Johnson died July 23, 2008, at age 85. He was flying a Ventus A glider from a Midlothian, Texas airport[4] when it crashed about 2.25 miles (3.5 km) from the airport after flying for some time. The Medical Examiner of Dallas County determined that Johnson died from the injuries he received in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable accident cause to be an incapacitating cardiac event, as Johnson had severe coronary artery disease with symptoms and had been prescribed medication for it."
  #3  
Old September 11th 18, 12:32 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
[email protected]
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Posts: 320
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

On Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 3:16:05 AM UTC-4, Mike the Strike wrote:
In recent discussions on accidents, there seems to be an assumption that a common cause is older pilots losing control - perhaps forgetting after fifty years how to do a coordinated turn. I have long suspected that many accidents may have a medical component resulting from the pilot becoming partially or totally incapacitated. Underlying medical issues may not be easy to find in a post mortem where a pilot was still alive on hitting the ground - the resulting trauma might easily conceal underlying issues.

I experienced such an issue a year ago on the third day of the TUSC OLC cross-country event. While doing a low save over rather unfriendly terrain, I suddenly experienced sharp pain and cramps in my left leg that left it almost completely disabled. Fortunately, I was able to return home doing mostly right turns and landed safely. This was caused by a deep-vein thrombosis (blood clot) in the major vein near my left knee.

Such clots are popularly called “coach class syndrome” and are often triggered by positional immobility. You can’t get much more immobile than in a racing glider cockpit! Contributing factors were dehydration, low blood oxygen and an inherited genetic condition that predisposes blood clotting. (This is shared by about 5% of people of European descent). Now properly diagnosed and treated, I am cleared to fly again, but in addition to anti%coagulant medication I take extra precautiions by keeping well hydrated, using oxygen at lower altitudes and limiting the length of my flights.

If the clot had broken and penetrated my lungs (not uncommon) the resulting pulmonary embolism could have been fatal or at least severely disabling. I could easily have ended up as one of the recent accident statistics with more questions than answers.

This is but one example of medical conditions that can overtake anyone, but especially older individuals, and that might lead to loss of control while flying. There are quite a few others too!

Mike


The answer to this issue is self awareness, self responsibility, and self grounding. Or acceptance of the possible outcomes.
  #4  
Old September 11th 18, 02:24 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Mike the Strike
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Posts: 905
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

Tough to be aware of an underlying condition that is undiscovered, symptomless and undiagnosed - perhaps just like the majority of medical issues that catch you unawares.

Maybe we should all self-ground as we age, but at what age - 65?, 70?, 80?

Mike
  #5  
Old September 11th 18, 03:02 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Retting
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Posts: 115
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

What!? You must be young. Kid, it’s like this.....
The choices I’ll have will be sitting in a wheelchair next to the pool after a stroke watching my lovely wife straps on lead weights while singing Amazing Grace, OR
.....auger in.
I say fly your ass off.....let terra firma be your tantou, seppuku your glory...”HAI”!
R
  #6  
Old September 11th 18, 03:02 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Peter Purdie[_3_]
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Posts: 100
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

The problem is that incapacitating events are only loosely correlated with

age. Heart attacks can strike apparently fit 30 year olds (one of my
brothers in law is a case in point; ex Royal Marine, age 38, passed a
public
transport driving medical less than a month before dropping dead of a
previously undetected heart problem. The actual number of medical
induced glider accidents is so low that we will never get any statistical
evidence to give a science-based numerical age limit.

My observation is that most ageing pilots do give up gliding when they
decide their reflexes/eyesight or some other reason make them query their
ability to continue. That's typically somewhere between 65 and 80, with
exceptions either side. Personally, I've only been gliding for 58 years
and
still have more to do - until I decide to stop.



At 13:24 11 September 2018, Mike the Strike wrote:
Tough to be aware of an underlying condition that is undiscovered,
symptomless and undiagnosed - perhaps just like the majority of medical
issues that catch you unawares.

Maybe we should all self-ground as we age, but at what age - 65?, 70?,

80?

Mike


  #7  
Old September 11th 18, 03:33 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
[email protected]
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Posts: 72
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

On Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7:15:10 AM UTC-7, pete purdie wrote:
The problem is that incapacitating events are only loosely correlated with
age.



My friend started asking me to be a safety pilot in his Mooney when he reached his mid 80s. After one flight, he said he would be away the following week. "I'm going skiing" he explained.
  #8  
Old September 11th 18, 05:27 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
gkemp
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Posts: 72
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

On Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7:33:04 AM UTC-7, wrote:
On Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7:15:10 AM UTC-7, pete purdie wrote:
The problem is that incapacitating events are only loosely correlated with
age.



My friend started asking me to be a safety pilot in his Mooney when he reached his mid 80s. After one flight, he said he would be away the following week. "I'm going skiing" he explained.


I flew for almost 40 years and always had said I would retire at 70, I did!! I do miss it but don't regret it.

Gary Kemp "NK"
  #9  
Old September 11th 18, 06:35 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
BobW
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Posts: 418
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

I long ago concluded "I'm OK with sudden/unexpected single-pilot deaths - mine
or others - in the general aviation/sport-flying community," (even though they
likely "fuzz up" explicit accident conclusions. Kinda-sorta related, "for all
practical purposes," sudden death vs. chronological age is only loosely
correlated; IMO aging realities have a *big* standard deviation...as has
previously been anecdotally noted in this thread.

At the same time - personalizing things a bit more - I've long held the view
that I never wanted to become one of those pilots "we all know at the home
gliderport" who I felt "should hang up his spurs," for general safety's sake.

Both entirely personal views, which work for me.

Bob W.

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  #10  
Old September 11th 18, 07:30 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Charlie M. (UH & 002 owner/pilot)
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Posts: 1,035
Default Accidents resulting from medical issues

Good post.
Age has many meanings. While statistics may state a cutoff, some go a lot longer and some are WAY overdue.
A lot depends on the pilot and whom they respect.
Some is genetics some is diet/exercise.
Please, listen to those that may have valid input and put aside your pride in determining your status.
I am approaching 60, I may not like some comments, but I will weigh them.
Yes, over 40 years flying gliders, ex CFIG, gold with 2 diamonds, couple thousand hours in sailplanes, nothing more than torn off gear doors.....
"Suck it up buttercup"...,, listen to those that may have valid info.
Flying solo, sucks for your family and friends, but you may be happy.
Flying rides or instruction, different ballgame.

Just something to think of.
Not judging one way or another. Sorta YOUR choice as PIC!
 




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