Originally Posted by grubbat
If I recall, Vans had a graph with a curve on it that showed the relationship between speed and survivability, using data from I guess years of information...
I vaguely remember having seen something like that, so I did some quick Googling.
Rich Stowell generated the following graph from data off an SAE study about light plane crashworthiness. More details in this IAC article
. Notice that the angle (presumably the angle off the horizontal) plays a key role: At 90 degrees nose-down (nose-dive), anything above 45mph is deadly. But at zero degrees (belly-flop) you could survive hitting the ground at 75mph, according to the data.
Ron Wanttaja writes lots of terrific articles about light airplane safety, accident rates, accident causes, etc. If you don't know his work, you must check it out
. Below is a graph from this article
. Although it ranks kitplanes not by speed but by fatal accident rate, you can't help but notice that the ones in the lower left (safest) are generally the slowest, and the ones on the upper right (more fatal accidents) are the fastest. The RV-4/6/8 are slightly above the line.
Finally, it's no surprise that the automotive industry has all kinds of statistics about this. They're not so relevant to us - because cars are different kinds of vehicles, are built differently and move through space differently - but the trends are interesting. Two graphs below, one from here
and one from here
In the end, I have to admit that I feel a little more peace-of-mind when I fly a slower airplane versus a fast RV because I know that, if I have to make an emergency landing, I'll be more likely to walk away from the slower airplane. I've heard pilots say - and I agree - that "The Cub is one of the safest airplanes out there; It's barely
fast enough to kill you"