Accidents: Flying Physicians

While forever warning their patients to shun unnecessary risks, doctors seem to jettison their own advice as soon as they take up flying. In 1964-65, reports the Federal Aviation Agency, 30 U.S. physician pilots died in crashes; in ten cases, the doctors’ families died with them. As a result, flying doctors had a fatal-accident rate four times as high as the average for all other private pilots.

Major causes of the high death rate, report Dr. Stanley Mohler, a specialist in aviation medicine, and Psychologist Sheldon Freud, were “risk-taking attitudes and judgments.” The two researchers were impressed by “the tendency…

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