Notes from the Safety Committee 

Note from the editor: The Alaska Airmen Association reconvened our Safety Committee, meeting monthly, to set goals and suggest initiatives to increase safety in aviation in Alaska.  You can find more information on our active committees on our website at Please enjoy this quarterly column from the Safety Committee.   

Tie-Down Safety 

A Long Overdue Conversation 

Growing up in a rural area of the Lower 48, there was always something that needed to be tied up. I grew up tying knots. I still remember the hank of rope I carried everywhere I went as a young man. 

As I got older, I was a mechanic apprentice at the local airport, and it fell on me to ensure all the aircraft were secured and ropes and knots were critical. I also had the opportunity to crew sailboats before college and learned a healthy respect for knots, lines, and wind power. After flying for almost 30 years off airport in rural and bush Alaska, I have learned a few more tricks and have even more respect for the wind. 

We have seen over and over again recently that when winter storms hit Alaska, aircraft are still being damaged from improper or inadequate tie-down techniques. It is sickening to see an airplane destroyed by the wind, especially when it could have been prevented. For the life of me, I can’t understand why someone would trust a $15 four-pack of box store ratchet straps to secure their $100K airplane.  

Some of you will say, “if you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot.” I cringe every time I hear this. Think about that mentality, would that blasé attitude be acceptable for any other aspect of aviation? Why would you not learn basic skills to secure such a valuable asset? Don’t even get me started on how you are endangering every other aircraft on the ramp with your carelessness!  

On April 11th, I gave a presentation about proper tie-down practices at the Alaska Airmen’s building in Anchorage. The summary of the talk is I have learned that a good quality, twisted strand, 5/8” nylon rope with a Midshipman’s Hitch is hard to beat. The rope holds up to the elements well; it is easy to untie and doesn’t overly weaken the rope. I would encourage you to go to the Alaska Airmen’s YouTube channel and watch it.

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