Pilot Error in Fact and Fiction — The Presentation in Brief

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Slide04As documented in previous posts in the Pilot Error “logbook,” I’ve given the presentation titled, “Pilot Error in Fact and Fiction” to a variety of groups since the first invitation to be a guest speaker for the UT LAMP (Leaning Activities for Mature People) Lecture and Seminar Program as a part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the Thompson Conference Center on the UT-Austin campus.

Other speaking venues have included:

  • Lakeway, TX Men’s Breakfast Club
  • Sun City, TX Aviation Group
  • Querencia at Barton Creek–Austin Retirement Center Lecture Series
  • San Antonio, TX General Aviation Pilots Association
  • Fredericksburg, TX Ex-Military Flyers Club
  • Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 187, Georgetown, TX
  • Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1268, Sonoma, CA
  • AeroClub of Buffalo, NY


Although air travel is by far the safest mode of transportation over long distances, pilot error is the most common cause or contributing factor in air crashes. Tosh covers in detail the critical links in the chain of events relating to four high-profile aviation accidents that define the all-too-common role of human performance in determining the final outcomes. His presentation will focus primarily on the facts of pilot error and finish with a short description of how he has used his personal experience and interest in writing to author a series of mystery novels in which pilot error serves as a smokescreen for airborne murder.


Lt. Col. McIntosh entered the United States Air Force in 1964 and served on active duty as a pilot for twenty years, five months, four days, twelve hours, and thirty-seven seconds, but who’s counting? He never had a desk job that didn’t include active flying, all of which after pilot training was in fighters, and of that, the majority in the F-4 Phantom, including two combat tours in a hot war and the rest in constant readiness if a cold war decided to heat up.

Tosh retired from active duty in 1985 not yet ready to turn in his g-suit. Every day since he has missed the unique combination of service to country and the bond of commitment to a team effort in which each fighter pilot must constantly perform to the best of his ability with no exceptions. Fail your wingman or leader and an already dangerous profession turns deadly.

After a series of false-start second careers in Austin, Texas as a flight instructor, landscaper, and financial planner, he flew airliners for ten years before monumental boredom finally drove him away and he began flying corporate jets. His professional flying landed for the last time in 2007.

Tosh is also a writer. Although he’s been putting pen to paper for much less time than he’s been a flyer, these two dominating interests in his life dovetail seamlessly into a synergistic union. His goal is to share with readers his deeply ingrained love of aviation.

Tosh published his debut novel Pilot Error in September, 2011, and the second-in-series novel Red Line in July, 2014. He’s currently writing the third novel in the series, titled Test Flight.

In non-fiction, Book One of Words on my Wings, Tales From the Cockpit, and Book One of Wings on my Words, Tales From the Writer’s Desk, cover his fledgling experiences as a pilot and writer. Subsequent books in each series will continue his ongoing journeys in aviation and wordsmithing.


With the exception of a short detour in the Air Defense Command flying the F-102 Delta Dart and the F-101 Voodoo, Tosh was privileged to call the F-4 Phantom II cockpit his office for most of his Air Force career, which included:

  • two combat tours in Vietnam
  • fourteen years as an F-4 instructor pilot
  • two assignments to USAF F-4 Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada, where he specialized in terminal-guided weapons like the Maverick missile and the Pave Spike Laser Target Designator System
  • a tour as the operations officer of the 414th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Nellis
  • serving as the lead instructor in the team from the Weapons School that introduced the Pave Spike system to the PACAF theater to prepare F-4 squadrons for combat readiness in the delivery of laser-guided bombs
  • a tour at Kadena AB, Okinawa, as Chief of the 18th TFW Weapons and Tactics Office, where he was responsible for the design, implementation, and conduct of the academic and flying training to bring that unit up to operational-ready status in the Pave Spike system
  • a temporary duty assignment from Kadena to Kunsan AB, Korea as the leader of a team conducting Pave Spike instructor training
  • a final assignment as the active duty advisor to the 924th Tactical Fighter Group and the 704th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bergstrom AFB, Texas, flying the F-4 Phantom

After leaving the Air Force, he flew DC-9s for ten years with an airline, and spent another decade flying corporate and private business jets.

Tosh’s professional flying career ended in February, 2007 when his employer sold a really nice Citation III business jet and put him on the street with a “Will Fly For Food” sign at a time when flying jobs were few and far between.

He currently enjoys sport aviation in experimental amateur-built aircraft.


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