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Article - pilot attitude

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Article - pilot attitude




A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.")


Aero-Tips 09.19.06


A recent press report describes an accident in Mexico. A six-passenger Piper Malibu crashed after its pilot reported engine trouble. The article says two aboard the PA-46 died, and five others were hospitalized.


Wait a minute -- that's seven people on the six-passenger airplane.


None was an infant in someone's arms, either. The news item says one of the survivors reports "the plane was only supposed to carry six people, but that he and his friends convinced the pilot to take on an extra passenger."


Load alone would not have caused an engine failure, unless it resulted from exhausting a fuel load reduced to compensate. But undoubtedly the weight would have reduced glide performance and made control more difficult after the engine quit. Distribution of the weight may have also reduced control authority. The extra passengers (and their bags) might have made a difference in the outcome (this is mere speculation at this point). But why would any pilot allow him/herself to get talked into putting passengers (and themselves) at this unnecessary added risk?


The resigned pilot


The FAA identifies the fifth "hazardous attitude" as that of resignation-a pilot's feeling that he or she can't wholly control the outcome of a trip or must defer decisions to others. "It doesn't matter what I do," the resigned pilot sighs; it's hard for someone exhibiting this personality trait to stand up against someone who wants to buck the rules. This attitude is especially prevalent in some small air cargo operations, corporate flights with the company owner on board (especially if the plane's small enough there's no door between cabin and cockpit), and in charter flying. Someone in authority (i.e., paying the bills and/or permitting a pilot to build desirable flying time) says "just another bag" or "one more person" or "if you won't fly when you're tired or in a little bad weather, I'll find someone who will" and the resigned pilot throws up his/her hands and straps in.


Is there good in resignation


In the other four "hazardous" pilot attitudes -- anti-authority, impulsiveness, invulnerability and machismo -- we are able to easily find examples where the attitude can also be an asset. It's harder to find the good in pilot resignation. If a pilot should be resigned about any one thing, it's a realization that he/she will never know everything about aviation, and therefore that there's a lesson to be learned from every flight, every regulation, and every other pilot. If we "resign" ourselves to a lifetime of having to learn even more to be a completely competent and safe pilot, perhaps we can get some good out of this one aspect of an otherwise extremely hazardous attitude.


Aero-tip of the day: Resign yourself to a lifetime of practice and study. What you do as a pilot does make a difference, and it's your job as a professional pilot (whether or not you're being paid to fly) to make command decisions that affect safety.



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