General aviation crashes involving military personnel as pilots

L. G. Gillis, G. Li, S. P. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Injuries sustained in off-duty activities are a major cause of mortality and morbidity among military personnel. Reducing these off-duty fatalities is a continuing priority of the military. Methods: General aviation crashes recorded by the National Transportation Safety Board between 1983 and 1998 were analyzed for military pilots (n = 205) and other military personnel (n = 185), and compared with all other general aviation crashes (n = 32,807) to identify differences in the crash circumstances and sustained injury severities. Results: During the 16-yr study period, a total of 45 military pilots and 52 other military personnel were fatally injured while flying general aviation flights. Military pilots who were involved in general aviation crashes were more likely to have advanced licenses and higher total flight times when compared with other military personnel and civilian pilots (p < 0.05). Among the three groups of pilots, other military personnel had the least flying time and the largest percentage of student/private licenses. Military personnel had significantly less time in type in the 90-d and 30-d periods preceding the crash compared with civilians (p < 0.05). Shoulder restraint usage was associated with less severe injuries for all groups. We estimate that general aviation deaths have cost the military at least $405 million since 1983. Conclusions: General aviation crashes are a costly source of mortality and morbidity for military personnel, particularly military pilots. Interventions aimed at improving safety of military personnel in the general aviation setting warrant special consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1005
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 15 2001


  • Aviation crashes
  • General aviation
  • Injuries
  • Military pilots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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