Here is something I would like to specifically address to builders new in flying, people without a license, ones who have not soloed, or may not even have more than an hour or two flying around in light aircraft.
What I want to directly say to these people is simple: It does not take any special talent, ability or IQ to safely fly a light aircraft, and do it well enough to enjoy yourself. Flying is enough of a challenge to require you to apply yourself, but it is certainly not reserved for ‘special’ people.
I am a safe pilot, and I know my limits and operate inside them, but I can easily and vividly remember when I didn’t know how to fly at all. Because many of my Fathers friends were military pilots that I was impressed with, I started off with the childhood perspective that all pilots were supermen. I never stopped to consider that it might take less skill and courage to be a good stick and rudder pilot than it took to attack the Thanh Hóa Bridge. Even though I knew better, some small element of self doubt lingered in the back of my brain well into my adult years.
I know how I got started thinking that way, but the things that reinforced it later were subtle; Think of how few times in your life a pilot has come up to you and said something like; “I am no where near as skilled as you are thinking” or “Airplanes have stability, and they do a lot of the flying by themselves.” Pilots just don’t share that stuff with new comers, but it is true. It takes a lot of precision practice to be a really good aerobatic pilot or to be a really good instrument pilot. But, these are skills you can focus on much later, or never at all. I possess neither skill, yet I do have the skill set to be a very competent day-VFR pilot.
I can’t dance, I probably have a two digit IQ, I have 20/30 vision and I am not particularly physically agile. If I was a new pilot going to the front in WWI, I would be in trouble, but none of those extremes matter in regular recreation flying. The only four things that any person needs here are simple: 1) You need to be willing to learn, 2)You need to have good instruction, 3)You need to be alert and focused around planes, and after you are started, 4) You need to stay away from people who missed any of 1) through 3). That is all that is required to be a good pilot and have one of the most enriching experiences of being alive, all at very low risk.
Above, My friend Gus Warren shot this photo at his home airport in Michigan yesterday. It is a twin engine Beechcraft with the nose gear collapsed and perhaps $50K in damage. No one was hurt. A non-soloed pilot with some self doubt might look at this from afar and have an inner voice that says “That guy had a multi engine rating, probably was IFR rated and maybe had been flying for years, and he still has an accident…planes are dangerous and if that guy had trouble I must be at very high risk.” I understand that, I used to think that way.
3 Replies to “Concerned about your potential?”
Great story and message. I wonder how this one gets explained to the insurance company.
Few people know their own potential. One valuable lesson we learned in Marine Corps boot camp is that we are capable of far more than we think we are…
A gentleman I am acquainted with owns and flies a medium sized business jet. He shared this story; Pre flight had been done, co-pilot and others had made visual checks. They were ready to taxi. He had an inner conviction to check whether or not the nose wheel lock pin had been set. Everyone said, yes, more than once. He reflected for a moment, and said, shut ‘er down, boys, I’ve just got to check myself. This is a man who travels quite frequently across the country to speak – a pilot that faces ‘get-there-itis’ multiple times per week. He got out and checked. The gear had not been locked – at least not after the last time. He said, you can imagine what would happen on the way to a 120 mph take off. Moral: Listen to your gut, follow procedure, see for yourself. No matter what. __|__