05 - Serpentine Road Safety

  • Safety Articles

Hello again folks,

Just in case you didn't know, a speed limit of 30 kph is in force all around Serpentine Airfield. That's really not much more than a walking pace.

I have been as guilty as any of driving too fast, but I recently witnessed what might easily have been a nasty accident, so from now on, I shall drive more slowly.

There is a 30 kph speed limit sign on the right of John Bird Drive, just inside the main gate but, because you are probably looking left, towards the runways, windsocks, apron and clubhouse, you may not have noticed it.

These days car brakes are very effective, and mostly servo-assisted. In comparison, aircraft brakes are tiny, purely manual, and designed only to steer or slow the aeroplane, not to do an emergency stop (whatever you may have thought) so don't expect an aeroplane to stop before it hits you if you get in its way.

Most likely the prop will slice into your car. How do you feel about an encounter with a 150 horsepower bacon slicer?

All road vehicles must, by law, give way to any aircraft. This means that, whether your vehicle hits an aircraft, or an aircraft hits your vehicle, the vehicle driver will always be liable. Many motor insurance policies carry a specific exclusion to operations 'airside' at an airfield. That means, whoever hits whomever, any driver colliding with an aircraft will have to pay out of his or her own pocket for all the repairs to that aircraft (and their vehicle, although it may suffer much less damage). This will inevitably be expensive, and probably extremely expensive.

Last week I had to run out on to the taxiway outside my hangar, where there is a fairly blind corner, to prevent a Cherokee and a pick-up colliding. The Cherokee was going under 30 kph, but I don't think the pick-up was. Its driver was initially waving and smiling at me, and seemed quite surprised to see an aircraft coming at him around the corner.

Have you seen that photo of a runaway Cessna slicing up a Seminole? That's what would probably happen to the vehicle if they had collided!

Please: SLOW DOWN AT SERPENTINE

Thank you.
Yours,

Bob Grimstead
SABC Safety Committee