Characteristics of general aviation crashes involving mature male and female pilots

S. P. Baker, M. W. Lamb, J. G. Grabowski, G. Rebok, G. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: General aviation crashes in the United States were analyzed to identify differences between male and female pilots in the circumstances of their crashes and the types of pilot errors involved. Methods: All 144 female pilots who were born between 1933 and 1942 and who were involved in general aviation crashes between 1983 and 1997 were matched 1:2 with 287 male pilots by age within 2 yr, medical certificate and pilot certificate, state or region of crash, and year of crash. Results: Mechanical failure, gear up landings, improper IFR approaches, and collisions with wires or poles were more common in crashes of male pilots. Loss of control on landing/takeoff was more common in crashes of female pilots. Mishandling aircraft kinetics was the most common error of pilots of both genders and was noted more often in female pilots' crashes (81% vs. 48%) (p < 0.001). Males' crashes were more likely to involve flawed decisions (29% vs. 19% of females' crashes) (p = 0.027) or inattention (32% vs. 19%) (p = 0.004). Older pilots made fewer errors: among males age 55-63, 26% of crashes were without obvious pilot error compared with only 7% at age 40-49 (p = 0.003). Conclusion: There are large gender differences in the types of pilot error involved in general aviation crashes. Mishandling aircraft kinetics, poor decision making, and inattention are the most common pilot errors and merit increased attention in pilot training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-452
Number of pages6
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Age
  • Aviation crashes
  • Gender
  • Pilot error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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