“God has a sense of humor I am yet to understand”

Builders:

Six months ago I wrote this story: Comments on aircraft accidents, and I would hope that builders who missed it then will take 5 minutes to read it now. It includes important perspectives I would like builders to stop and really consider, like this:

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“Even if a builder had a god’s eye view of what went wrong in every accident of the type of plane he is building, this still doesn’t tell him anything about what is right, only what is wrong. Study success at least as much as failure.”

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One of the elements of the story is how often I am called to provide information on experimental aircraft accidents, and the strong restrictions on disclosing any information about ongoing investigations before the final report is issued. To give you some idea about how long a process is, I spent some time last week working with the feds on an accident from the middle of last year. The investigation is now done, but the report isn’t out yet, so there isn’t much I can say about it, but here are a few things:

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None of the things speculators said on the net were even remotely close to the probable cause, and that includes what the pilot initially thought the issue was. Like the great number of experimental accidents. it would have been prevented if the pilot had just exercised better judgment. The one fortunate thing about the accident was the pilots injuries were low. Most of the people looking at the accident were very surprised he lived. Even people who have seen a great number of accidents, and know the damage can appear random, made comments about how lucky this guy was in light of the choices he made.

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On this last point, I made the comment in the title of this story. I can share it now because it was not put in the official record. Over the years I have supplied background information and test data for a number of accidents, and you can see it in a number of older final reports. While there isn’t a section for philosophy in final reports, maybe there should be one day. I would certainly like reader of the report to understand that if they replicated the decision making of pilot, they would likely not live.  No one should take this mans survival as an endorsement of his choices, skills or even the strength of the airframe design. When I have to consider it in comparison to a number of very skilled pilots I knew who did not survive their own accidents, (Risk Management reference page),  I can only conclude that “God has a sense of humor I am yet to understand.”

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Above, the 1894 Paul Gauguin Painting “Day of the god.” It was inspired by his first visit to Polynesia, today it is in the Art institute in Chicago.  I have long studied the work and life of Gauguin. He was a French impressionist painter who worked beside many of the greatest artists ever; he was close friends with Van Gogh.  He spend almost all of his life without success, in poverty. In 2015, one of his paintings broke the absolute record for highest price ever paid for any painting, $300,000,000 dollars. When negative people criticize your choice to build a homebuilt aircraft, reflect on how many people must have told Gauguin to give up painting.

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Take a moment to consider that Gauguin thought Paris in the 1890’s, the worlds art and pleasure capitol, was too pedestrian, predictable and moralistic; he spent most of the last decade of his life exploring his primitive side in Tahiti and the Marquesas. The academic description of the painting above is a number of long paragraphs on themes, influences and movements.  I tend to think it is better understood after considering Gauguin’s affections for Drink, Morphine, Laudanum and  Native women.

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In the last year of his life, Gauguin wrote:

“No one is good; no one is evil; everyone is both, in the same way and in different ways. …
It is so small a thing, the life of a man, and yet there is time to do great things, fragments of the common task.”

He died in 1903 at age 54.

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Please note: The title of this article is said in jest, It is not a serious comment on Faith, not intended to be offensive to anyone.  It should be considered in the same category as A.E. Houseman’s poignant observation: “Ale does more than Milton can, to justify Gods ways with man.”

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-ww.