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5 Deadly Mistakes Even The Most Experienced Pilots Make

As pilots, most of us have made one or more of these mistakes... Here are some reasons why you won't make those same mistakes again:

1) Ignoring weight and balance calculations and limitations.

Think doing weight and balance isn't worth it? Tell that to the 16,000+ hour ATP licensed captain who crashed this Bombardier Challenger 604 when he couldn't rotate because of a forward CG and overweight airplane.


2) Choosing an en-route altitude lower than what's the most safe or efficient.

Why leave gliding distance above you? Always choose the most safe AND efficient altitude for your next cross-country flight. If you have engine trouble, you won't regret having that extra gliding distance.


3) Relying on automation.

While the pilot flying was limited in experience, the instructor pilot aboard Asiana Flight 214 had logged over 3,200 hours in Boeing 777s. The seemingly simple visual approach they conducted into San Francisco ended with disaster as they flew below the glideslope and impacted a seawall, flying 34 knots below approach speed. The pilot later explained that without the vertical guidance of the ILS, it was difficult to fly the approach.


4) Ignoring an "I'm-Safe" check.

"I'm Safe" stands for illness, medication, stress, alcohol, fatigue, and eating (a lack of it). These are all things that should keep you from flying. In a recent study, it was shown that 22 hours without sleep was equivalent to .08% blood alcohol content, or the same performance after drinking 5 beers.


5) Skipping checklists.

Performing a flight controls check prior to takeoff is something you learn on your first flight lesson, yet the experienced crew of this Gulfstream GIV failed to notice a gust lock that was engaged prior to takeoff. They didn't perform a flight controls check before rocketing down the runway. At 162 knots, they tried to abort the takeoff, but it was too late to save the 7 people aboard.

Philly Media

What other deadly mistakes do even the most experienced of pilots make? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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