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Let’s Stop Meeting Like This

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January 2005

If you have a midair collision it isn’t going to happen like it does in the movies. It won’t be a head-on, high-speed thing like those dogfight passes in “Top Gun.” It won’t be a Beechcraft Baron hovering in your windshield just before you smack into it, again head-on like in that old “Airport” movie.

According to a recent study by the AOPA Safety Foundation, chances are you’ll overtake or be overtaken in a midair collision—not smacked in the face by an oncoming airplane in a head-on mishap. Eighty-two percent of midair collisions happen when a faster aircraft overtakes and rear ends a slower one. That makes those rear windows in your Cessna a nice thing to include in your scan and might be a good reason for Piper owners to wish they had a rearview mirror.

The fact that you are more apt to be run over than run into takes away all the thunder of most discussions about midairs; you know, those great head-on charts that tell you how many seconds you have to live if you are face-to-face with a military fighter.

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