Thought for the Day: Least Qualifed for Command?


In recent weeks, one of the presidential candidates was dubiously said to be “the most qualified presidential candidate in US history.” Leaving that claim aside for a moment,  almost every historian agrees that on paper, Lincoln, a man of numerous failures, and a single term Congressman, was the ” least qualified” person by experience, ever to be elected. 



Lincoln in 1858.  People can think what they like, but uphold that he is the greatest American who has ever lived, period.  It is not possible for me to express the depth of my admiration for this man. Without his integrity to the purpose of saving the Union, the United States would have effectively ceased to exist, millions of people would have spent their lives in slavery, and western civilization would have returned to monarchy as the dominant for of government. Not bad for a person who had no prior experience of significance. experience without judgement and integrity to purpose are meaningless; yet, with these essential qualities, there is no practical limit to what a person may learn and accomplish. 


Your aviation Connection: 


Most people new to homebuilding live with two illusions, one dangerous, the second crippling; first, they believe that the experience of others, like 20,000 hr pilots is a guarantor of safety and judgement, and second they  believe that such experience is more important than their effective training and good decision making. I ask no one to believe my 27 years of observations on this matter; there is stunning statistical evidence comparing the records of well trained 200 hr Light Sport pilots to 5,000 hour pilots who didn’t take transition training seriously. Before jumping to debate, look at the 2011 accident stats that were a wake up call to our branch of aviation.


 Just like being Commander in Chief , on paper experience as Pilot in Command is meaningless without integrity to the purpose of safely.  In the worst cases, experience only serves to quell the natural alarm of people who recognize that it is primarily being used as a database of what can usually be gotten away with.  


If you are new to aviation, undertand that low risk is synonymous with good training and judgement, and there is no absolute relationship between experience and safety, particularly when the task at hand or the aircraft type differ from the experience.  This should be taken as a simultaneous message of empowerment, and a warning about trusting those who’s actions and attitudes are at odds with their touted ‘qualifications.’




Only the illiterate or the self delusional would claim any presidential canadate today is ‘the most qualified’ by experience. 

Our third President, Thomas Jefferson was previously Secretary of State, Vice President, ambassador to the most critical ally we have ever had (France), a critical contributor to the Constitutional Convention, governor of Virginia, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and something of a rennance man of his day. JFK once said to a large group of distinguished Nobel Prize  dinner guests at the White House, “This is the most extraordinary  collection of talent and human knowledge gathered here with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined here alone.”




7 Replies to “Thought for the Day: Least Qualifed for Command?”

  1. two weeks ago, my wife and I spent 4 days at Gettysburg Pa. our second trip there, many more are planned. To stand in the room where Lincoln spent the night and look at the actual bed he slept on is overwhelming to say the least. The battlefields and Seminary Ridge are very interesting to see. very important piece of our history. Dan-o

  2. I started out years ago as an ultralight pilot and trained with Scott Severin in Denton, TX in the early ’90s. Back then, it was an interesting fact that 90% of the fatal ultralight accidents did not involve ultralight pilots, but licensed pilots (including some ATPs) who apparently couldn’t be bothered to learn the very different low-speed handling characteristics of ultralights and were auguring in on a fairly regular basis, usually just once per customer…..

  3. As hope for some kind of a miracle occurring faded, and it became obvious that the worst possible scenario was going to occur, I had described this November’s choice as having to choose between Hitler and Stalin. I have been told that that description is overly harsh…but only by a little bit. Your thought for the day has reminded me that even the most unlikely of people can step up and meet the challenge, and therefore, there should always be hope. On the other hand, you pointed out that ‘judgement and integrity’ are essential to that job; and those are 2 words that I would never use to describe either one of these 2 candidates.

  4. I agree that you need to take flying and building serious. I am alow time pilot and have built my 601 and engine. I try to be a perfectionist, but I settle for very good. When I was making my decisions I considered the outcomes and trusted people that were in my opinion reputable. William is one of those. I was checked out and did a BFR in a like model. I also flew with an instructor for about 15 hourds, but I dld test fly my plane. It was one of the high points of my life. Make good decisions and have fun.

  5. William, I like your comments and deep thinking. BTW I recognized your rig while driving north on I-75 to Oshkosh on Friday morning July 22, just south of Atlanta GA. It was about 5:15 AM so I didn’t try to get your attention. Sorry I d
    isn’t get to say “Hi” at Oshkosh. I agree that Both Lincoln and Jefferson were exceptional men. Our nation is in their debt.

    1. James, we rolled through Atlanta to just get under the traffic and stopped to a cat nap about 40 miles north of the city. Hope to speak with you in person at a future event.

  6. A few thoughts here; the country is stronger than any candidate. Folks who pay attention to facts make the best decisions and I’m always optimistic that challenges can be met and overcome. That from time to time inspired people such as Lincoln come along should give us pause and hope as well as relief from much of the frankly uninformed litany we here on a daily basis.


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