“Gut punch” is how more than one person hearing the news of Richard’s untimely death described their reaction – total incredulous shock and pain. There was lots of crying and disbelief to come to terms with this bitter news. This is a loss we all will have to process over time, but will never get over.
There might be a “last lesson” here that Richard delivered shortly before his untimely death: how important it is to be mindful of consequences and pursue excellence in every aspect of our flying. We do our best and fate decides the rest (as Ernest K. Gann also wrote years ago in Fate is the Hunter).
When a pilot perishes in an aircraft accident, suddenly—in an instant—they’re gone. They blast a hole in the lives of spouses, children, grandchildren, and close friends that can never be filled by anyone else. The mourners learn to cope with the loss, but they never get over it. Our lives are just one of many influenced by the decisions we make in the cockpit, even when we fly solo. Richard McSpadden
Richard was a wonderfully warm person who shared his remarkable aviation talent and knowledge freely. His trademark smile and 400-watt blue eyes lit up every room. He listened as intently as he spoke, a rare talent. And he was the last person anyone would expect to perish in an aircraft; just too talented and intelligent. But life is not fair and gravity, unfortunately, always wins. As Paul Bertorelli said in his remembrances, I almost do not want to see the results of this accident investigation; just too painful and personal.
But as the wonderful AOPA tribute video says, the last thing Richard would want for any of us is to stop flying out of fear. A natural reaction is to say “if it can happen to Richard…” But the fact is we should take this as Richard’s last lesson: Keep flying and strive for excellence. Always work hard to mitigate the risks of aviation with study, training, and vigilance. Keep flying and be continuously mindful. Bad things in aviation do not play favorites, every flight has risks and surprises. Aviation, and life, are high-consequence activities. Fly safely out there and often!
Carefully examine 180° Turn back HERE
Take-off is the riskiest phase of flight. Landing accidents comprise 47% of accidents but are 99% non-fatal. Take-off accidents, high-nose/high-power, are 3X less common but 20X more likely to be fatal!
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