Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ashley, Walker S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Geography


Meteorology; Geography; Geographic information science and geodesy; Aircraft accidents--Research--United States--20th century; Aircraft accidents--Research--United States--21st century; Meteorology--Research--United States


General, or private and non-commercial, aviation accidents produce more fatalities than any other aviation category within the United States. Despite advances in scientific understanding and technology since the early 1900s, weather consistently causes great concern for general aviation safety, and little is known about the overall characteristics of fatal weather-related general aviation accidents in the United States. This study provides a comprehensive spatiotemporal analysis of fatal weather-related general aviation accidents that occurred from 1982 through 2013 using accident data culled from the National Safety Transportation Board. Results reveal that weather was a cause or contributing factor in 35 percent of fatal general aviation accidents, of which 60 percent occurred while instrument meteorological conditions were present. Fatal weather-related general aviation accidents occur most frequently between October and April, on the weekends, in the early morning and evening periods, and along the West Coast, the Colorado Rockies, the Appalachian Mountains, and the Northeast. There has been a long-term reduction in weather-related general aviation accidents and fatalities since the 1980s; despite the decline, these accidents are still responsible for nearly 100 fatalities per year in the United States. This study provides pilots, academics, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, and other aviation organizations with beneficial information to further mitigation efforts aimed at reducing future aviation-related accidents in the United States.


Advisors: Walker S. Ashley.||Committee members: David Changnon; Jim Wilson.


77 pages




Northern Illinois University

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