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10 Strategies For Avoiding Mid-Air Collisions

Remember that near miss you had? What could you have done differently? Follow these strategies to mitigate the risks of a mid-air collision...

1) Remember The Location Of Navigation Lights

Red is always on the left wingtip, and green is always on the right wingtip. A pulsing, red beacon light should be located on the tail of the airplane. If you can remember these lights, you'll be able to tell which direction an airplane is headed in low light conditions.

For instance, if you see just the green nav light and beacon, you are to the right of the opposing traffic.


2) Verify Which Traffic You're Following

If you're flying in a busy traffic pattern, always be careful to ensure you're following the correct traffic. Making a base turn too early could result in you cutting off another airplane on final if you're following the wrong traffic.


3) Make Specific Radio Calls

Have you ever heard a radio call and wondered to yourself, "where on earth is that airplane?" Non-specific radio calls leave other pilots confused. Try to be as location-specific as possible by transmitting location, direction of flight, and intentions.


4) Be Careful When Flying To The Side Of Thunderstorms Or Rain Showers

If you're forced to fly to the side of a heavy rain shower or thunderstorm, so is everyone else. Be extra cautious, as weather can create a funnel for aircraft just like the valleys of a mountain.

Live from the Flight Deck

5) Always Monitor Local Traffic Frequencies

Traffic-heavy areas often have published advisory frequencies for aircraft to use. Always fly proper VFR altitudes and monitor these frequencies while giving occasional location reports.


6) Use Your Lights

Anything you can do to make yourself more visible to other aircraft is a good thing. While not required during the day, the expense of more frequently replacing a nav light is worth the added visibility. If anti-collision lights are installed, always use them unless you determine its unsafe. Landing lights and pulse lights are also great tools to utilize, especially during takeoff, climb, descent, and landing.


7) If ATC Radar Service Is Available, Use It

If available, requesting VFR Flight Following from ATC is another excellent way to get traffic information. Click here to learn how to use VFR Flight Following.


8) Study Local Traffic Procedures

If you know the local traffic procedures, you'll have a much better understanding of where traffic density is coming and going.


9) Memorize Right-Of-Way Rules

FAR 91.113 lists out the right of way rules for aerial traffic. Memorizing these rules comes in handy, especially when you need to make a split second decision on which way to turn to avoid another aircraft.

Think you know it all? Take this quiz: A Burning Balloon And A Flaming Plane Are On Final - Who Goes First?


10) If The Traffic Isn't Moving, You're Likely On A Collision Course

Most importantly, if the traffic ahead of you remains stationary in your windscreen and against the terrain around you, there's a good chance you're on a collision course. You won't notice the size of that traffic grow in the windscreen until it's much closer - And it might be too late by then.

Have you ever had a close call? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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