A Perspective on Culture

One of the most complex problems with General Aviation is cultural. It has to do with a widespread definition of a “good pilot.” The cultural definition seems to be one handed down from a warrior class consisting of the fighter pilot, the test pilot and ultimately the astronaut. The “Right Stuff” is a combination of perfect competence and a complete lack of fear. The ideals of fearlessness and perfection have filtered down to pilots through instructors, flight schools and their peers. Compared to this ideal, we mere mortals fall short. As a result many pilots deny their fears rather than address them. To have one’s fear found out would be a type of social death. Or so we fear.

Unfortunately, trying to repress a fear only leaves it to surface in harmful ways. Every pilot, no matter how experienced, has had at one time or another apprehension about some aspect of flight. To acknowledge this is to recognize that fear is your common sense telling you to be careful, to take a step back and stay alive. Use a fear you may have as a learning tool. Ask around and solicit varied opinions on what concerns you. For example: why do I subconsciously seem to cross control during a power on stall knowing this could lead to a spin? The answer may not come from one person: it comes from the accumulation of experience and information others have to offer. Read articles or books on related subjects. Learn to channel your fear into the energy to learn and master the situation so that confidence and knowledge supplant fear. There is no reason to face anything in General Aviation as a test pilot.

Reference: Plane & Pilot Dec. 2002

These safety tips are provided by the WCFC Safety Committee. They are intended to stimulate thought and discussion about flight safety and do not necessarily represent club policy nor are they intended to replace instruction from a qualified instructor.