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Airman advocates safer skies for civilian, military pilots

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
To make the skies safer for general aviation and U.S. military pilots, Air Force officials sent a safety expert here to the world's largest airshow, the Experimental Aircraft Association's Oshkosh Air Venture airshow, to educate pilots on midair collision avoidance and on the need for flight safety and planning awareness.

Lt. Col. Ned Linch, the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) chief of flight safety, an Air Force pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and light aircraft, went to the airshow, which ran from July 31 through Aug. 3, to promote the Air National Guard- and Department of Defense-sponsored flight safety Web site,, which was created to educate the aviation community on midair collision avoidance and flight safety.

"The Air Force goes to great lengths to ensure our pilots and those of the civilian aviation community are on the same sheet of music when it comes to flight safety because we share the same skies," Colonel Linch said. "Our attendance during this event and our promotion of the Web site is our way of showing that we are committed to working with civilian aviators to improve flight safety within our community."

The colonel, who pilots as a civilian and military aviator, speaks from experience. He has had multiple near misses with civilian aircraft while flying the F-16 for the past 16 years, noting that in most cases the civilian aviator was legal.

The colonel, who flew his personal experimental RV-4 plane to the event, used the occasion to promote safety to more than 540,000 people from 70 nations here in attendance. To get their attention he distributed bumper stickers with the logo and statement: "Don't Fly Naked."

"It's an attention-getter as well as making a statement that you should always consider military airspace when planning your flights," the colonel said.

Midair collisions continue to be a problem for civilian and military aviators. According to the Web site, since 1978 there have been an average of 30 midair collisions each year in the United States. These collisions resulted in an average of 75 deaths per year. There are also more than 450 near-midair collisions reported each year. is a one-stop-shop 3D portal that integrates real-time Google maps and other flight safety material to aid aviators in eliminating midair collisions and reduce close calls with good flight planning. The Web site also serves to promote information exchange between civilian pilots and the military safety community.

Military aviation was well-represented during the airshow. The Air Force had on display an F-16 Fighting Falcon, an F-15 Eagle, an F-22 Raptor, a KC-10 Extender, a KC-135 Stratotanker, a T-6 Texan II and a T-35 Buckaroo. The airshow also featured more 2,500 show aircraft that ranged from innovative home-built aircraft to stately vintage airplanes and powerful war birds -- all there competing for awards that recognize the best of the best. It is estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 aircraft visit Oshkosh each year during fly-in.

The colonel, who has made the trip to the Oshkosh airshow several times, spoke on the opportunity to attend and educate people in the aviation community about flight safety.

"The Air Force could not have chosen a better venue to get the word out about flight safety," he said. "And I am proud to be here as part of our shared communities of civilian and military aviators."