Good Pilot! I can be that!

Posted on December 9, 2016

Good Pilot

We must first examine a balance that can make a pilot 'good.' A good balance of attributes seems to be the key. A balance that can prevent the hazardous attitudes of aviation. Except for anti-authority, a slight amount of this is required because your ship, your ultimate command decision may be needed without hesitation or at least in my opinion. I have broken it down into 3 categories with both the good and the bad.


The Good.

Some say a good pilot is one who can 'feel' the bird. The natural, the talent. The ones who hops in and become one with the aircraft. The skill set is remarkable with some individuals. A natural coordination that matches well with the aircraft or any aircraft. A term you here “he is different. “

The Bad

Although the feeling and 'skill' can be great to watch, the decision making may be masked by a need to 'push and push the limits.'    “An accident waiting to happen ” for some, while others simply utter this in jealousy. Some push too far and die while others get out of aviation completely because they think they are not good enough. With this insecurity, a tendency to put others down because of their lower skill level can occur, this is a bad place to be.
A skill set can be honed with experience but there are those that do not have to 'try.' Limits are the hardest things to learn for these individuals but humility may be just as hard to master. Typically 'growing pains' mask the humility with a lot of insecurity but extreme confidence at the same time.

Common Sense.

Like all human factors, a good balance in a person can bring in the 'common sense.' While others learn 'by pissing on the electric fence.'  A balance of knowledge and experience can help bring common sense to the flight environment.

The Bad.

However, some 'high time' guys this may not be the case. The hour counters, the ones that still count their hours precisely. They put every pilot that has accomplished anything down. They look at the negative in everything, they yell “that is not standardized. ” They focus too much on politics and other social things to try to get ahead. If these individuals are put in manager positions they sometimes make poor decisions based on 'ENVY.' These ones have struggled during their hours, they fly beyond conservative, and to an extent they still get scared during a simple jolt of the wind. They can live without flying but they stay because of the 'epaulets prestige.'  Flying for these envious types is a task, work, it is stressful. They truly do not enjoy it, it is a job.

For the 'natural category' the bad is lack of common sense. Simply, flying is so easy at low time that 'the need to push' is too great and results in an accident, scaring someone, or the latter. So the experience or obtaining proper experience can be a journey for some.

The good.

Good decision making comes with experience and a balance of knowledge, humility, and understanding personal and aircraft limits. It is ok to be a conservative pilot. Conversely it is also ok for 'some' to fly towards the limit as their specific job dictates the unique capabilities of an aircraft, Mr. Chuck Aaron for example.

Knowledge & Intuition = Experience.

Just like in life, what forms us as people are experiences that give us perceptual insights to learn and grow from. This is where experience is important.
Is experience hours?  Sure it is, but this is not the tell-all.  A skill set is built naturally and for some while it is taught with more repetition than others. However hours and how you get them is important. For some, someone that stays at the same school in the same airspace and airports to obtain the magic 1,000 hours. While a different person goes to 4 schools; flies in Class B, high altitude, over the water, and in multiple countries by the time they reach a 1,000 hours may have a much more set of unique experiences to adapt intuition.

The Bad: The Bean counter.

How many hours do you have? Someone that focuses purely on that logbook. So convinced that hours make that person a better pilot. They hold or flank their hours in insecurity over others. An insecurity of their skill set.

The Bad: The ignoring.

“Hours do not matter, look at my control I can do it! ” The overconfident individual that does not need to 'form' a skill but has to stay calm and humble until an adequate amount of experience is built, which again depends on each individual.

The Good:

The informed and self-aware pilot. Someone that has enough experience for themselves that can decipher the environment around them. The more unique situations and areas flown do aid more greatly than just 'building' hours in the familiar environment.
A good pilot researches 'all available information' and gains a keen knowledge for all that is aviation. A person whom is passionate about aviation and flying typically are consistently gaining knowledge.

The good pilot, when encountered with an unknown variable will use his knowledge and all experiences to aid in the safe maneuvering of an aircraft and proper decision making. When Captain Sully was able to put or rather glide a 767 into the Hudson River full of people without incident. He was a glider pilot, a long time airline pilot, and when an extremely rare duel flameout of engines occurred he KNEW and used his pilot intuition that saved countless lives.
Performing such extraordinary tasks in the time of need or setting records requires a balance but also the stereotype of a confident pilot is almost a certainty to push the limits just the right amount. Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier sitting in the X-1 rattling and shaking that inevitably had lead to the death of a few colleagues before him. For some reason, he knew and he pushed the limit just the right amount.  

The Balance.

So the point of this writing is to examine mindsets that can be balanced that makes the qualities of good pilots or true aviators rather. Does this mean that you must possess all the qualities to a 'T' to be the best?   No it does not. There is no best nor there ever will be 'the' best pilot. As a human and a pilot just focus on being the best person and pilot you can be. Find your balance and fly safe to your limits while managing your experience and the intuition will develop.

I am in by no means all of these but I strive to be the best I can be. Personally, I have experienced extreme growing pains in humility, balancing ego, envy, insecurity, and many of the bad aspects. It is up to me to be professional and be good to others, even if they do not do the same.

The best single piece of advice a fellow long time pilot told me is…
“Be the best person you can be and the best pilot you can be will follow ”

Last edited by admin on December 10, 2016, 8:43 am

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One response to “Good Pilot! I can be that!”

  1. There is some evidence that the ‘best’ pilots (as evidenced during training) have a higher than normal accident rate. Whereas the ‘solid plodders’ have a lower accident rate.

    Perhaps the ‘natural guys’ who ace their flight training (and who ‘know’ they are good) have an innate tendency to push the limits. Whereas the ‘plodders’ labor under no such illusion.  A cautious mental attitude that last a lifetime?

    And then there is that nebulous reality called ‘respect’.   Which many of us applaud.   

    And which ingredient some of us quietly also label as ‘fear’.

    Rock on…!

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