PMID: 708352Oct 1, 1978Paper

U.S. fatal general aviation accidents due to cardiovascular incapacitation: 1974-75

Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine
S R Mohler, C F Booze


A study was undertaken to determine the relative impact of inflight cardiovascular incapacitation among general aviation pilots with respect to general aviation flight safety. During calendar years 1974-75, the National Transportation Safety Board reports reveal that 13 U.S. general aviation pilots died of cardiovascular incapacitation during flight. The analysis of these accidents will bear on any suggested changes in pilot medical screening procedures for cardiovascular disease, as well as on pilot safety education programs. Of the 13 cases noted above, nine pilots were flying alone. Of the remaining multiple occupant cases, the nonpilot wife of one deceased victim managed to land the aircraft. Eighteen deaths resulted from the inflight incapacitations. The ages of the pilots ranged from 33-68 years, with both a mean and a median of 52. Postmortem examinations revealed extensive coronary disease (atherosclerosis) in 12 cases (no pilot autopsy data is available in the case where the passenger landed the aircraft). Of these 12 cases, five demonstrated recent occlusions. In four more, evidence of old infarcts was revealed by the postmortem examination. It is concluded that these 13 inflight cardiovascular incapacitations, occurr...Continue Reading

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