Pilot Safety and Flying Philosophy

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Not every low hour pilot is unsafe, this is a common myth. And not every high-time pilot is automatically a safer or better pilot. The other day I was discussing this with a low-hour pilot and he explained to me how he went out of his way to be safe, and that it was more about attitude than hours. Indeed, I agreed and told him; right, absolutely.

My dad has said to me many times “A great pilot never has to use his superior skills to get him out of a terrible situation, he simply never puts himself in that situation in the first place,” and I suppose this is the best advice I’ve even heard. Now there are many private pilot accidents, and there are always lawsuits when they occur and they always make the news, unlike the 20,000 to 40,000 fatal car deaths per year. My acquaintance mentioned to me that it took 10,000 hours to master something.

Indeed, and I agree with Maxwell Gladwell in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to master just about anything. The trick is to not let an unearned “ego” to trick you into believing that you have gotten there long before that muscle memory (Martial Arts theory) has taken place, where prudent flying skills and decision making is a reflex. The pilot who knows he lacks experience is generally safe when he acts accordingly and the Doctor who rips the wings and “V-tail” off his Beechcraft Bonanza because he gets vertigo in the clouds and then tries to pull out of a dive in that very clean configuration is a perfect example of what not to do.

You know after watching the Augusta Masters Golf Tournament, it reminds me a lot of flying skill in that regard. I don’t know perhaps you, the reader of this article agrees? You see there is always more to learn in flying, it doesn’t just stop when you get a good number of hours written in your log book.

I’ve had a number of very good friends die in aircraft, I’ve personally witnessed crashes which killed people many times, and I watched two people burn to death after a crash in a homebuilt T-18 Thorp. I’ve also had friends with horrible injuries who’d survived. I have studied many accidents, and constantly read the “I Learned About Flying from That Column” by Collins. I’ve had several engines quit on my, dead stick’ed several times while near the airport, all but one landing on a taxi way or runway, only once in a


Much of an accident, or incident is about attitude, your attitude at the time will most likely determine the outcome, barring some massive structural failure. Many folks do stupid things, such as flying over mountain ranges at night in single engine aircraft at altitudes impossible to make it to one side or the other, or trying to sneak in under clouds or drop in through clouds when they see a space, or they do not properly manage fuel.

Well, those are the common ones, but there are enough Darwin Award Winners in NTSB reports to fill an encyclopedia, so don’t let anyone in the club become a statistic. Ah, what the heck, it’s all just common sense and philosophy really. And I guess I am preaching to the choir, because if you are reading this article, you already care about aircraft and flying safety. So, it’s those other folks that we ought to be talking to, although I’ve always found the best way to tell someone something, is to show them, and lead by example and in that way, you may save someone’s life in the future, simply because your wisdom, prudence, and adherence to safe flying rubbed off on them. I hope you agree.

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Source by Lance Winslow

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