My Seatbelt Phobia


I have developed a full-up phobia about airplane seatbelts possibly tending toward a tinge of hatred. YouTube is the cause of this, but so are airplane manufacturers. Like the automobile industry before them, airplane designers and builders have generally viewed seatbelts—or at least their design and execution—as an afterthought. There are some exceptions and also some progress.

What YouTube has to do with this is this: The Rule of 30 Minutes holds that within that time frame if there’s the slightest thing wrong with the seatbelt design, fit or deployment, the people sitting in darkened basements watching this stuff will comment on whatever transgression they have observed. Now, when that I get into an airplane to shoot a video, I am careful to fit the belt as well as it can be fitted, given whatever design limitations it may have. And these are likely to be more than trivial. But sometimes I forget.

It’s not that I have a thin skin or anything or that I particularly care what a YouTube commenter thinks. It’s that they’re often right and I’d prefer to not plunge into the panel in a crash or suffer internal injuries of some sort. That’s what can happen with badly fitted seatbelts. A recent egregious example was the gyroplane I flew for last week’s video. I’m reproducing a frame of it here.

Seatbelt in gyroplane.

Note how the belt cuts a sharp angle across my chest and terminates far too high on my left side, almost under the armpit. The edge of that belt was cutting into my neck constantly and in a crash, it would exert even more side force into the neck. It probably would prevent submarining—the process of sliding out of the belt from the bottom. But otherwise, it’s just poor ergonomics, like the company just gave up on finding a better solution.

A month ago, I actually killed a video for this very reason. But I’m resurrecting a frame to show you why. It was in a video on the Velocity experimental aircraft. The belt design is not too bad as these things go; the shoulder component is reasonably positioned. But like so many belts of this design, it takes effort to get the lap portion down low on the hips, where it’s supposed to be. In addition to having the shoulder strap twisted, the lap and buckle are too high, hitting me just below mid-chest. Mea culpa. This is operator error that I should have caught. I hated it enough to bury the video forever. And for the record, I would install four-point belts in anything I built or own.

And for all its creakiness and old age, our Cub has exactly that. It does take effort to get the lap strap low, but we’ve got dual shoulder harnesses with a nice spread to keep them off your neck. I use ‘em, too. And I get them so tight I can’t reach the carb heat. So I have special stick to reach forward and do that.

I was all prepared to ding Cirrus on their substandard seatbelt but then, as Warner Wolf used to say, I went to the videotape. Faulty memory. The Cirrus belts are excellent four-pointers that have just the right angle to stay off your neck and remain comfortable without being too difficult to adjust. I must have been thinking of another new airplane.

I’m a not a big fan of the airbag seatbelt. Effective or not—it probably is—I don’t like the weight and bulk of it. Someday in the future, I wonder if Cirrus or some other manufacturer will develop a proper panel-mounted airbag. I know, I know … what if that goes off in the landing flare? Or at glideslope intercept? Actually, not a problem. You’d be well protected for the subsequent crash.

Cirrus seatbelt

I have been asked from time to time to write something on the crashworthiness of various airplanes. I have resisted doing this because the data to analyze it fairly is fleeting at best. If the industry hasn’t cared much about good seatbelts, it cares even less about collecting data on why people die in crashes.

In most accidents, the NTSB is kind of binary about it. Were there bodies? Yes? No? Let’s look at the mags. These days, we’re more interested in the latest data revision for the glass than, you know, actually surviving flying the thing.

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  1. Rule number one; don’t crash. Beyond that the only thing seatbelts actually do is to keep you in place during turbulence…

  2. My thoughts AR with you, Paul. I have students who insist on the “chest medallion” approach no matter how many times I try to get the to settle the lap belt first! I think it’s a psychological clutch thing, personally, since the pulls feel different. But they are worth it, and they do matter, and if I do end up stopped suddenly or with the oily side up, I’d like to increase my chances of a controlled disembarcation from the aircraft!

  3. Airbag firing off at the marker? Similar events have happened. When I was a controller at Los Angeles Center in the early ’70s, we got invited by the excellent VF126 squadron down at Navy Miramar to go riding and get some stick time in there fleet of Douglas A4s. I certainly took advantage of that. We rode in the 2 place TA4 which was used for instrument training. Part of my preflight orientation was the Douglas ejection seat and what to expect if we had to take a ride in it. And hanging right on the panel in front of us, lower left side, was a short piece of aluminum pipe that had been sliced downward at an angle to leave the bottom end pointed and with a sharp tip. It was hanging from the panel, attached with a very thin piece of wire, and located where we could easily reach it. Why you say!!! Well, back to the possible accidental deployment of an air bag. It turns out that the A4’s Douglas ejection seat used a quick inflatable bladder behind the pilot to push him out of the seat after ejection, not unlike an airbag in reverse. And…on rare occasion these bladders had accidently deployed while the aircraft was in flight. This event would then firmly pushed the pilot forward into the stick and panel, and basically incapacitated him. How to solve that issue if it happened? The hanging sharp pointed piece of aluminum pipe, which was at easy hand’s reach, could now easily be broken free from the thin wire. Then with some wrist action it could be then used to poke the bladder and pop it, thereby freeing the pilot to resume the duty of flying the airplane. I don’t know if the Miramar Navy base metal shop made them in about 10 minutes for a dollar or so, or they were contracted out for several thousand dollars each. Now I wonder.

  4. Maybe it’s my age (75+), maybe it’s my experience (3 major automobile crashes in which I was struck unexpectedly through no fault of my own), maybe it’s my conservative nature. Whatever factors contribute to my beliefs, I have no desire to be seriously injured, period. I’m fine with quick death, but debilitation, uh, no. Therefore, at this stage in my life, I’m not venturing into an aircraft without (a) a demonstrated high minimal injury rate from crashes and (b) an airbag. The AmSafe SOAR makes the latter affordable. If you can afford an airplane you can afford an airbag. Unless, of course, the old “oh it won’t happen to me” is the cognitive component of your denial.

  5. I have four point harnesses in my own airplane; I used five point throughout an airline career.
    (lap belt in cruise; other three pieces for takeoff and landing or turbulence)

    I will have five point harnesses in any future aircraft; the only reasonable equipment for safety.
    You need to be firmly attached to the primary structure of the aircraft; air bags are good for one impact only, then they deflate. Harness keeps you attached till the crash is finished.

    Three point harnesses are inadequate, but better than lap belts only.

    Remember; airbags were first put in cars, because Americans would not wear their seatbelts; kind of like some won’t wear their masks these days.

    • There’s evidence that airbags save lives.
      I’m still waiting to see any evidence that masks do the same. Conjecture is not evidence.

      • Ah. One of those. So easy to wear a mask, and it doesn’t hurt, and it might help. That’s all I need.

    • Not sure that is a good analogy Brian. Seatbelts keep you in your seat, the other makes you feel safe from the invisible boogeyman. We masked up and still got it. Are you saying I blame someone else? My mask isn’t doing jack squat and the others guys ain’t either. Wanna know how I know? I for one am glad seatbelt performance isn’t based on limited direct evidence or public opinion. How would you feel if your belt broke on impact ? Let’s just say I’m no longer a believer. Come to think of it you know I haven’t hardly seen a face in public coming up on a year, but the numbers keep getting bigger. Must be working real good. Figure it out, and like Paul says stop whining, even though he sounds a bit whiney here. Really whiney.

      • “We masked up and still got it.”

        Yup – and people wear seat belts and still die in car crashes. The extremist argument that if something is not perfect, then it is useless. The same argument is used to fight drunk-driving laws (laws won’t stop people driving drunk, so the laws don’t work).

        Seatbelts (and masks) can reduce the severity of injury, or prevent it entirely. But just because they’re not perfect doesn’t mean they don’t work. And the cost of wearing them is minimal.

  6. I have a Cirrus SR22TN, 2007, with the four-point airbag belts. There is a substantial recurring cost (parts have to be replaced on a life-limit basis, adding hundreds (if not thousands) to the yearly cost. But otherwise I do not find them uncomfortable. What *is* a problem is the general ergonomics of the belts relative to the Avidyne controls. I can reach the center stack just fine, but to reach either the PFD or MFD requires leaning forward *against* the pressure of the belts, which is not convenient. I like the plane, but I sure wish a couple of the more commonly used controls were moved down to the center stack, or the belt/harness kept a small amount of slack.

    • All Aviat Huskys come with a five-point harness. This is not because they are aerobatic airplanes, many of which also have five-point harnesses, but because they are STOL bush aircraft which are safer with a five point seat belt harness. I installed a four-point harness in my J3, which may seem awkward, but is far safer in a crash than a lapbelt alone.

  7. I always remember hearing an interview on the radio with an eminent medical doctor researcher, who before he went researching was a specialist face surgeon.
    The weekend after seatbelt legislation came into force, making it compulsory to wear seatbelts, he was on duty, as on every weekend, in a British hospital (Southhampton if I remember right) and …. nothing happened.
    For the first weekend duty in his 15 years as a face surgeon he did not have to carry out the immediate basic surgery to ensure that people who had been thrown into windscreens had working faces afterwards. Or a semblance of a working face.
    After a month or two of under employment, he decided to go into medical research.
    I know too at least one police station, which with gallows humor used to hold a book on how far bodies would be found from the car wreck. The record was something like 90 metres. Searching for bodies was an automatic part of car crash duties, especially when survivors could not tell you how many people were in the car. That book too became history with seat belts.

  8. I can’t understand why anyone would fly an airplane without shoulder harnesses. I fly out of NJ and as in many other places in the NorthEast, we have a big deer problem. We have had airplanes and deer meet on the runway with the expected results. Without the shoulder harness, one’s face meets the panel with the expected results. Not pretty! Now add in a tail wheel aircraft to the mix, and the results get much worse.

  9. My gyroplane has only a lap belt. Many do. Finding a good attachment point for shoulder harnesses on tandem gyros is problematic and, even in an emergency landing, you are not likely to have much forward speed near the ground. Of course, I’d be toast if I actually hit the ground nose first, but I think I’d be toast in that situation anyway…

  10. Our 185 has double shoulder harnesses, and after flying that for 14 years I’ll never get another plane without them (or if I do, I’ll immediately install them). Flying without them make me feel naked.

  11. I flew for a little over 50 years and never once had a plane with shoulder harness. Then about 5 years ago I put some in my Aeronca Chief. A couple of flights and I could not imagine ever not having them again. As said, naked without them.

  12. “what if that goes off in the landing flare? Or at glideslope intercept? Actually, not a problem. You’d be well protected for the subsequent crash.”

    Airbags inflate and then rapidly deflate. They’d do you no good in “the subsequent crash.”

    Trivia: I had front seatbelts in my 1936 Ford Phaeton in the mid-1950s. My father had been involved in some work with the Cornell aeromedical lab, and he got me a rig that was used for retrofitting seatbelts at the time. Very cutting-edge. It was a big L-shaped aluminum flange that stretched across the lower backs of the front seat (always a bench in those days) and was fastened underneath the body to the car’s frame with steel cables. That and my Ardun heads made me a playa.

  13. Seat belts, just as masks, must be used and incorporated properly for maximum protection. A lap belt improperly secured will allow the wearer to either submarine under the belt or permit the wearer to hit the dash or other immovable object in the vehicle because of looseness. A properly secured lap belt is better than being ejected from one’s seat. Improvement in safety comes with the addition of a shoulder harness. Like the lap belt, it must be properly positioned and secured for maximum effectiveness. A further improvement is the 4 or 5 point harness. But one must have them properly positioned and adjusted for maximum protection.

    The only way you will find out how much “wiggle room” you have when improperly positioned and secured is to crash and see what the evidence of your injuries are as a result. Then, you must participate in an another equally ugly crash with all belts properly positioned and secured to have finally experienced the injuries or lack thereof for proper scientific evaluation. Of course, one must heal from the first crash completely to provide the most accurate scientific evidence. To effectively render a highly “scientific” judgement of the seatbelts capabilities, one then simply compares the injuries. No need to heal completely at this point. This will most likely use up two good airplanes in the process as well.

    Likewise with the mask debate. Wear a mask but climb into a tiny place with other mask wearers…like an average 737 that seems so popular these days…and perform the normal nut to butt gyrations to get seated after putting your flying armoire into the overhead bins. After finally seated and properly belted have a lively conversation with your seatmate from LA or NYC ideally. Or simply ask for a bag of peanuts from your masked flight attendant. Wait seven days and test for Covid. Next, make the same flight again not wearing a mask at all, but interact with the masked passengers nut to butt with the overhead calisthenics, and don’t forget to order the peanuts. Wait the scientific seven days to elapse and test again. Then schedule another flight with an airline that has no mask mandates, ditch the mask, and deal with the flight ala pre-Covid. Make sure you order the peanuts from an attendant who thinks masks are a joke and infringes upon his constitutional rights for accurate scientific results. Wait seven days and test a third time.

    By this time, you should have all the scientific evidence you need to determine a mask’s effectiveness, when not used in conjunction with social distancing ( which cannot be accomplished on an airliner anyways). Then you will be an “expert” that might get you on the local news for your 15 minutes of fame depending on the outcome of your quest for true “science”. The other possibility is you might be in ICU telling your healthcare worker you thought all this was a hoax to undermine the economy which will not get you much fame but you will be a statistic on one way or another.

    Don’t think masking makes a positive difference? Depends on what you define difference as. Masking never claimed total immunity from infection just like seatbelt usage never claimed to completely stop accident fatalities. Some crashes are horrific enough that properly belted people die. Airline accidents provide “proof” that properly worn seatbelts cannot prevent death when the airliner becomes a lawn dart.

    Masking will never prevent Covid-19. But properly adjusted masks, with proper social distancing, combined with reasonable hygiene, buys time so that you and others don’t show up at the hospital all at the same time should you get infected. It buys time so you and others can avail yourself of a vaccine when they become available for widespread use without overwhelming the local hospital.

    I don’t need to be in multiple crashes as a test dummy to understand the benefits of seatbelt usage. Nor do I need to take health risks debating mask usage as an effective deterrent for massive rate of infections that are just beginning to overwhelm major cities ICU capabilities. Masking after not social distancing, masking after having Thanksgiving with the family from many different households and locations, masking after having beers in a crowded bar, or a night at the local restaurant with people who share similar worldviews, and using the rising infection that comes from these behaviors to offer “scientific” proof that they are ineffective is like saying seatbelts don’t work because the belts were never used or improperly used prior to a crash.

    I guess I wonder what it takes for people to take proper seatbelt usage with 35-45K deaths in car wrecks each year seriously. And proper, intentional mask wearing/social distancing/hygiene participation seriously implemented in the light of the statistics that have resulted in 340K+ deaths in less than 10 months and infection rates of 200K+ daily with hospital admissions doubling in the next month while the nations ICU’s are maxed out today. What more “scientific” evidence is needed to verify that if the most rudimentary, basic precautions are culturally implemented and adhered to we buy more time for effective vaccination?

    Tired of the debate? What is the alternative? Those who debate proper seatbelt usage find out quickly the results of their decisions when the vehicle they are in stops suddenly. However, they do not have to clean up the mess nor deal with all the others affected. Likewise with the mask debate. Take your chances in a Covid rich target environment. Unfortunately, others will be cleaning up the mess from those decisions as well without any choice in the matter.

    • Jim:
      Politely, I live in the Peoples Republik of Maskachusetts. No, that wasn’t a typo.
      Since the very beginning of this viral fiasco, we have been at the forefront of masking, distancing, and outright lockdowns.
      And yet…
      As of TODAY (December 29, 2020) Massachusetts has the third-highest Covid death RATE of any state in the nation – behind only New Jersey and New York. And we’re all masked up like Jessie James’ gang.
      Care to guess which state is ranked right behind us? It’s North Dakota. So much for the “urban versus rural” theory/excuse.
      If people want to believe that masks are effective, that’s probably no more harmful than believing in Santa Claus or in God. Faith can be a wonderful thing. Or it can kill you.
      I dutifully wear a mask whenever out in public. It makes the local Lefties feel a little bit better.
      But – exclusively upon the basis of evidence – it’s about as effective as a rabbit’s foot. More virtue-signaling voodoo than medical “science.”
      And for the record, Fauci’s many flip-flops don’t polish his credibility.

      • All due respect, you are cherry picking data, I think.

        While Massachusetts is third in deaths per million,much of that is legacy from the March spikes, when the state got hard hit from infusion of European cases through New York and when a lot less was understood about containment. It currently ranks 37th in cases per million, well below the overall U.S. average, while, significantly, it ranks third in population density, a key driver in covid propagation.

        Median age for deaths in Massachusetts is 80. It’s in the upper third for old age. Massachusetts has less than half the case rate of the Dakotas and significantly less than the top 10 states. Given that it has 80 times the population density of the Dakotas, Massachusetts hasn’t done badly.

        As for masks, it’s too polarized to debate intelligently. There’s convincing data out there, but it is not bulletproof.

      • YARS,
        I fled the People’s Republik of Illi-noise run by Chairman Madigan, the political birthplace of ” the Daly Machine”, still being run from the grave. Land of high taxes for the peasants, tax haven for Boeing, bad news for Meigs, but hey…another wonderful park with a control tower. The same ideology is running your home state and my former residence.

        I did something about my condition by leaving. Staying while complaining did nothing for me, my family, nor changed the state of the state.

        I am not an engineer. However, I believe you have quite a career in that wonderful field.

        But I have seen the engineering work of Dassault, Boeing, and many others including, open access peer-reviewed chapter, Air Quality and Airflow Characteristic Studies for Passenger Aircraft Cabins By Maher Shehadi
        Submitted: November 5th 2018Reviewed: June 5th 2019Published: June 27th 2019
        DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.87307.

        Plenty of very cool videos and computer simulations to see the fluid dynamics a 737 cabin looks like while in the air, but equally important as the fluid dynamics of the cabin while boarding, loading, and deplaning. A virtual scientific aluminum Petri dish from this non-engineering, Johnny Lunchbucket point of view.

        YouTube is filled with days/weeks/months of fluid dynamics viewing pleasure looking at HVAC/ventilations systems in buildings, cars, bars, restaurants, airplanes big and small, racing cyclists drafts, even the flow characteristics of various V8 heads ( an area I really enjoy within my gearhead interests). Add various bacteria and virus’ and voila…lots of opportunity for infection…graphically displayed in living color.

        Lastly, from nutritional science research combined with understanding the basics of human physiology, it is very clear how Covid enters the body, how it replicates, the systemic damage it causes, and creates a perfect storm of overall body, hyper inflammation that last well after you are officially Covid free.

        Since 97% of the US population is living in caloric overload but nutritionally bankrupt in various degrees of malnutrition, a significant portion of the population is virtually defenseless against a novel virus outside of a vaccine. That means anyone overweight as is 85% of the US population is, or pre-diabetic/diabetic as 65-70% of the US population is, have any evidence of heart disease as 65-70% of all ages do, you have all the precursors that is the gatekeeper of your health opening the door wide open for Covid enthusiastically welcoming this dangerous virus in. Covid-19 is an accelerant added to an already smoldering fire burning down the human infrastructure.

        So far, of all the short term outcomes (either you live or die), 3% of those infected have died. And that number has been consistent since April 2020. Add to this formula of carnage the fact that 70% of the US population is highly Vitamin D-3 deficient with the remaining barely meeting minimum levels. Yeah, Vitamin D-3 plays a key role in your ability to defend against Covid-19.

        The only solution to slow down this spread is the consistent use of masks ( as crude as they are), combined with social distancing in crowded venues such as shopping at your local Peoples Republik of Walmao ( no typo), avoiding spending any time in any poorly ventilated room or building in close quarters with other homo sapiens, masked or not, stay outside as much as possible enjoying the fresh negatively charged ion air, gathering what sunlight you can get, and staying away from others outside your household while one waits your Govmit approved turn for the vaccine. Gaining true health is a far better approach to disease eradication including Covid-19. But that another equally polarized subject as most ideas that challenge the status quo are.

        Plenty of science out there to validate all of the above. Very few people want to learn something new. Most have an opinion about God, Santa Claus, politics, nutritional science, and health. Most don’t want that paradigm challenged. Instead, many seek people with the same opinions to validate their own.

        But there are some who truly are seeking knowledge, willing and able to sift through opinions, and recognize true science even if they are not an expert in that particular field. As a result, they grow, able to change as their knowledge increases.

        Evolving science requires change as that evolution progresses. I am glad Fauci has evolved, modifying his position as the science of Covid-19 is being better understood.

        Isn’t that what we are supposed to do as we fly? Being conscious of an ever changing environment and adapting our flying to that present but never static situation?

      • One problem with analyzing the effectiveness of masks is that there is no such thing as a “standard” COVID mask. Look around and you see every conceivable face covering posing as a mask, from the macho “gators” to something resembling a surgical mask. Also, masks have become fashion statements with clothing manufacturers cranking them out in all different patterns and fabrics to match every ensemble, but no regard to efficacy. With the exception of the true N95 mask, none of the others have been subjected to any form of scientific testing to measure their effectiveness in protecting the wearer. Add to that, you see an awful lot of people using them as “chin warmers” or people letting their schnozes hang over the top. Like an improperly worn seatbelt, an ill-fitting or incorrectly worn mask is not going to help, even a little bit.

        Finally, even if you wear them correctly, and social distance and all the other stuff, it is no guarantee that it will fully protect you or completely prevent the spread. Even a 95% effective vaccine will not give you total protection. The whole thing shows how ill prepared we are as a nation to combat any widespread disease. Personally, I hate the damn things too, but I wear a proper fitting one in public and avoid situations where I come within six feet of other people if at all possible. I also religiously wear my (non-airbag) 4-point BAS seatbelts in my plane, just in case. Call me paranoid….

  14. Regarding seatbelts: I am a neurosurgeon, and have spent far too much of my life watching other peoples’ lives devastated or ended because they either forgot to buckle up, or didn’t believe in doing so. On the one hand I have seen unrestrained people rendered paralyzed or die after a crash at 20 mph, while on the other hand properly restrained people often walk away when appropriately belted after 80+ mph collisions.

    Regarding masks: If I were to perform surgery – or even walk into an operating room – without carefully washing my hands and masking in preparation, I would immediately lose my license. Most surgical infections can be traced not to the surgical team but the bacteria of the patient him/herself, but the surgical team nonetheless practices meticulous hygiene to reduce the risk to the patient as much as possible. Masks are not overwhelmingly effective, but they do help prevent the spread of infections, including COVID.

    So, anti-maskers, would you demand your surgeon and the surgical team remove their masks prior the the start of a procedure on you or a loved one?

  15. “Anti-maskers” do not tell others what to do. That’s their basic point.

    April legacy aside, Maskachusetts’ current rates of infection rival those of the springtime surge. If masks truly were effective, then there would be a statistically significant reduction in the rate of infection among the mask-wearing population. There is none.
    The casualty of this wolf-crying hysteria is the destruction of credibility.
    The casualty of compliance is the creation of a population of sheep.
    The casualty of empowered sheep is the extinction of liberty.
    Is there a vaccine for that?

    • YARS,
      Your argument is based on statistics. Those statistics are totaled as a result of behavior. Mask efficacy is determined by proper use…just like seatbelts. The law of the land is buckle up. Yet a significant portion of the population does not. Their behavior skews the statistics of total seatbelt efficacy.

      As a supporter of masking, I also know that masking by itself offers some benefits. However, combined with social distancing, hygiene, and avoiding crowded places such as bars and restaurants for example, the risk of community transmission is drastically reduced. Most proponents of mask wearing are under no illusion that the mask is the end all for Covid-19 community spread.

      Paul’s article, as well as the science of physics, points out a lap belt properly secured is better than no restraint. Likewise, a shoulder harness is an improvement over the lap belt. But for maximum efficacy, a 4/5 point harness offer the best protection. But, it is human behavior in compliance of the physics that distorts the stats. Look at most 70’s era built C150/172’s. The lap belts are dirty being used for every flight. But those shoulder harnesses are far cleaner stuffed in that little plastic slot over the doors…rarely used. So, one could argue that we might as well ditch lap belts because the stats indicate that death was caused by blunt force trauma of heads and chest’s slamming into the yoke and panel rather that being entirely ejected through the windshield from the cabin. Those numbers could be used in favor of eliminating seat belt use.

      Massachusetts citizens are no different than any other state citizens. People are tired of Covid-19 and all its baggage. Compliance to any suggestion or mandate is being done to the LEAST common denominator, looking for any excuse for non-compliance.

      A surgeon who wears a N95 but does not wash his hands, or pulls his mask down below his nostrils would not be effective in reducing surgical infections. People who mask and don’t social distance, host crowded home parties because of traditional celebration practices, go to crowded airports, stand in crowded lines, and board crowded airliners are statistically skewing the mask debate statistics demonstrating that their participation in public masking is just a show of reluctant lawful compliance. But the “rules” of the local land allows for that behavior.

      Surgeons intentionally, willfully comply with all the standards required for minimizing surgical infections. They know what would happen if they left out any of the steps that minimizes surgical room “community spread”. They care about community spread of surgical infections. In spite of their best efforts, some infections result. But the stats are largely excellent because of intentional compliance to the science.

      The science is still the science. The statistics of efficacy depends on behavior. In the case of Covid-19, collective behavior within the population of each state is the statistical driver. Add to this Covid-19 malaise, far more infectious mutations and traditional celebrations your beef with masks should be more directed to local behavior that refuses to comply with hygiene, crowds, and social distancing.

      I am not crying “wolf”. I have lost acquaintances in this pandemic. I have family members involved in front line health care service who are physically exhausted, mentally devastated, and pleading for a break in dealing with this carnage, who live in hourly fear they will export the Covid virus from their hospital employment importing Covid home to their family…which is my family as well. I have one nurse daughter-in-law who, after nine months of continuous work, contract Covid. I lost my job in aviation due to Covid. My Dad in assisted living in the Peoples Republik of Ill-Noise has been in lockdown since late January.

      Credibility is being destroyed by behavior in conflict with the science. I have never seen an empowered sheep. I have seen impowered wolves, masquerading as sheep. And they are considerable influencers of sheep behavior. But at the end of the day, biology, science of human physiology, nutrition, and fluid dynamics always wins out over poor behavior. We either comply with the science, learning to live in harmony with it, or fight against it with eventual catastrophic results. Don’t like the masking results?…take an accurate statistical look at behavior.

      YARS, Happy New Year to a fellow aviator. Happy New year to AvWeb and all of its readership.

      • Happy New Year, Jim.

        I can’t remember the last time I saw a non-masked person out in public, locally. Compliance is close to 100%. And yet, our infection rate has returned to springtime levels.

        If masks really worked, we should see a statistically-significant improvement in infection rates, in areas – like mine – where compliance is nearly-universal. But we don’t see that, at all. Science, indeed.

        3% of our Covid infections have been linked to restaurants. But we force restaurants to close? Where’s the compelling science in that? These emperors have no clothes.

        • “If masks really worked, we should see a statistically-significant improvement in infection rates….”

          Yars, the fact is that if mask usage is near 100% you have no real idea what the infection rate would be if nobody wore a mask so you cannot show objectively that it does no good. But that aside if, you are sure masks do no good, don’t wear one, the choice is yours.

          • I can’t – and don’t – assert that “masks do no good.”

            I DO assert that there’s no evidence that they do statistically-significant good.

            Absent evidence, certainty rapidly decays into certitude. Which is a key ingredient in virtue-signaling. And a key justification for totalitarianism.

            And I do wear masks. To make others feel better.

  16. I have around 4,000 flights in Twin Otters with no seats in the plane (except for crew) and the floor mounted seat belt run through my leg strap…..i always figured the the best i could hope for in a crash is that at least the first responders would have a smaller search area for the bodies as opposed to being scattered far and wide……

    • Ditto – I always figured such an arrangement would simply turn me into a “reverse pinata” in any accident sequence. Though, as the old joke goes, airplanes only crash when they hit the ground – skydivers remove that event from their loop.

      All kidding aside, one day an FAA rep showed up at our local DZ. Whether he suggested it or the DZ leadership realized their lax ways, EVERYONE was quickly advised the proper way to belt up was to feed the seatbelt straps around the vertical torso straps. Many of the seatbelts were too short to allow this so the quantity of jumpers per plane dropped significantly. Later the DZ did come up with longer belts for all four Twin Otters to allow full loads, but I don’t know how many people continued the practice.

      • I usually just route it through my reserve handle— that way if anything happens i can get my reserve out in a hurry……

  17. A lot of the mask/no-mask (or seatbelt/no-seatbelt) debate reminds me of the Y2K problem. For years leading up to the event the news media was having a field day presenting hyperbolic doom-and-gloom scenarios come January 1st, 2000.

    Meanwhile, as one of the many IT workers behind the scenes, we were working furiously to correct the problem. Lots of money and overtime was spent.

    Come New Year’s Day, almost nothing happened. In the IT world there was a couple of remaining fixes to catch the little problems that remained, followed by an immense sense of relief and accomplishment.

    Much of the outside world, however, cynically observed “See? Nuthin’ happened!! What a waste of money! Ya can’t trust da news on anything!!”

    What they all forgot was the measure of success – if nothing happens, that’s the point!

    • Yeah, it’s kind of like hangar flying – throw out one subject and pretty soon everyone is on to something else.

      Getting back to the seatbelt issue, one thing I like about the BAS retrofit four-point belts is that the shoulder straps are connected to an inertia reel system that allows totally free movement during normal flight activities. But, if you hit the ground, the reel locks up and prevents forward movement, like car belts do. The thing I don’t like about most factory installed 3-point systems is that they have no “give” to the shoulder strap(s), which makes it difficult to reach some controls. They are cheaper to install, but far less likely to be worn.

  18. Agreed that many AvWeb replies regarding anything that suggest there are rules, mandates, suggestions, wishes….whatever the request is (or whatever the proper verbiage asking or demanding for population compliance) that comes from any local, regional, state, or federal leadership…morph into Covid debates. In my view, this is the first time since WWII, the entire US population is affected.

    We have had the luxury prior to this pandemic, of a society that was able to dodge a national threat or catastrophe because of our size, location, national resources, wealth, and dependency on technology to correct any threat, medical-wise or militarily. In other words, most of us were relatively unaffected within the context of our everyday lives. We have had 75 years of not having to pull on the same rope at the same time for the common good. Anything that entertains the idea of behavior for the common good is met with comments of socialism, dictatorship, a threat to our freedoms, etc.

    And we have gotten used to the corruption of our government leadership as a collective whole, and simply lived with their spending habits because, realistically, it did not affect our personal middle class lifestyles much since WWII. I think we wearied of spending numbers we cannot wrap our minds around. That has lead to the idea that government is producing money, and that billions, or even trillion of dollars has no practical relevancy to any of us. Its what our leadership does, and has done consistently for decades.

    Each succeeding generation has attained more by GDP standards with success determined by an ever expanding economy dependent on consumerism. We have had our ebb and flow times with recession and inflation, but as a whole, we have not experienced a national crisis that affects our collective health, wealth, jobs, and economy all at one time. To think that would not influence all discussions today is not unusual to me, at least.

    This mask and seatbelt debate is very similar in nature. Until seatbelts usage was mandated, then legally enforced, a large portion of the population simply would not comply. And there still is a portion that for one reason or another, will not comply, even for their own safety, let alone for the consequences felt by friends, family, first responders, and medical care workers who pick up the remaining pieces.

    Covid-19 has now brought a national threat to these shores far more threatening than the Axis threat in WWII. National character is being revealed today just like it was during WWII. But the national trend of behavior seems to be trending into national division which has massive, multiple underlying causes festering for decades now being pushed to the surface by Covid-19. And for the first time in 75+ years, everybody has got to deal with this now because virtually everyone will personally feel the affects of Covid or the personal effects of the vaccine.

    In either case, we will have circumstances with decisions to make on a daily basis regarding our personal reaction and subsequent behavior to these influences. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. We have not done well from the top down to these challenging circumstances.

    Our arguments have been about our behavior and what we think other folks behavior should be. And we are arguing without complete facts because the pandemic has been thrust upon the globe in a matter of 11 months or so. But even in these early stages of the pandemic, there are rudimentary but reasonably successful defensive protocols to buy precious time. None of these are a panacea for absolute protection. But they do work, when the collective does those basics with intention rather than reluctant compliance to only one aspect of defense.