1. Thou shalt abstain from the intersection takeoff for, verily, the runway behind thee, as the altitude above thee, cometh not to thine aid when thou needest them.
2. Thou shalt not linger on active runways lest thou become like unto ground sirloin.
3. Ignorest thou not thy checklists for many are the switches, handles, gauges and other demons awaiting to take cruel vengeance upon thee.
4. Thou shalt cast thine eyes to thy right and also to thy left as thou passeth through the firmament lest thy fellow pilots bring flowers to thy widow and comfort her in other ways.
5. Buzzeth not, for this shall surely incur the wrath of thy neighbors and the fury of the FAA shall be called down upon thy head.
6. Thou shalt be ever mindful of thy fuel lest there be nothing in thy tank to sustain thee upon the air and thy days be made short.
7. Trust not thine eyes to lead thee through the cloud lest the Archangel Gabriel await thee therein.
8. Thou shalt not trespass into the thunderstorm lest the tempest rend the wings from thy chariot and cast thee naked into the firmament.
9. Put not thy trust in weather prophets, for when the truth is not in, then they shall not accompany thee among thy ancestors.
10. Often shalt thou confirm thine airspeed on final lest the earth rise up and smite thee.
by Darren Smith, CFII/MEI
From Getting the Most from Your Flight Training from PocketLearning, September 2004
So what is the magic ingredient that makes successful pilots? What is the special “stuff” that pilots need in order to make it. In one word: character. I’ll share with you the characteristics of successful pilots. Either it will guide you in terms of new insights or you will recognize these traits in other pilots you know.
1. Pilot in Command Authority. Successful pilots know when it comes time to take command, they do it. Without hesitation, the work gets done. They recognize that there is no one else to do it, and everything rests on their shoulders. They don’t shrink to the task but rise up to meet it and accomplish the requirement. We’re not talking about the arrogance all too common among pilots but confidence in their skills. The pilot is the ultimate command authority for the flight… the one responsible for the safe conduct of that flight. If anything goes wrong, passengers look to the pilot who must step up to the plate and take responsibility. They have a presence when necessary and are willing to disappear from the spotlight when not needed.
2. Meaningful Self-Evaluation. Successful pilots don’t wallow in self pity when something doesn’t go according to plan. They don’t make excuses for performance, rather, they analyse the weaknesses objectively and seek out a resolution that meets the requirements of the problem. Successful pilots are the ultimate judge of their own performance, accepting responsibility for their setbacks and asking for help to improve their skills while not being too self-critical.
3. Respect. Successful pilots respect others. Not just others but they respect the regulations, procedures and process of flight. They never engage in unsafe behaviors because they respect the equipment they fly and the passengers and cargo held within. Out of this respect, they properly manage the risks of a given flight and seek out alternatives should some unplanned event happen.
4. Recurrent training. Successful pilots don’t look at recurrent training as a hassle but as an opportunity to grow and learn. I recently flew with a 40,000 hour pilot who came to me for a BFR. He believed he only needed to show me 3 trips around the pattern. In the process, he committed a runway incursion violation and lacked situational awareness throughout the short flight. When the short flight was complete and I debriefed the pilot he was offended that his BFR was unsuccessful. I should have recognized the BFR would be unsuccessful when this 40,000 hour pilot told me prior to the flight, he didn’t understand why these flight reviews were required for pilots as experienced as he. Successful pilots are partners in learning, a self-motivated professional which craves knowledge about aviation.
5. Humility. I am a firm believer in being able to learn from others even as an instructor. My students often have an opportunity to keep me humble. I look forward to flights with other instructors as I always pick up new techniques. Successful pilots are always seeking the better, safer, more efficient way to accomplish their tasks and are always willing to examine an alternate viewpoint or method.
6. Determination. Experience grows a pilot’s skill. Rough experiences grow a pilot’s wisdom. Don’t let the small things like a rough landing or minor scrape stop your progress. Use the experience to grow your wisdom and resolve to improve your skills with remedial training.
7. Planning. Successful pilots are always running the Plan – Do – Check – Analyze cycle in their work. Successful pilots plan their flight completely before execution. During the flight, successful pilots check to be sure they are within performance parameters predicted for the flight. If not, they later analyze the performance and feed the results back into re-planning for the flight. After completing a flight, successful pilots analyse their performance to look for areas of improvement.
8. Precision. Successful pilots do more than what’s good enough. They strive for precision in their efforts… on heading, on altitude, and proper airspeed. It’s not enough to be on target because successful pilots can predict what will happen next and respond accordingly.
The table below list twelve (12) dangerous pilot tendencies or behaviour patterns that often set the stage for tragedy. The sad thing is that we often are unaware that we are under the influence of these behaviour patterns.
Cut and paste the below table somewhere on your instrument panel or on your knee board. Review each listed behaviour pattern before commencing any flight. Be objective. Ask yourself if you are being influenced by any of these behaviour patterns. If you are, STOP! Analyze your situation. Think through what you are about to do and WHY.
Ask yourself, is it worth the risk? If not, alter your behaviour in accordance with more sensible thinking. Do what you need to do to correct whatever dangerous behaviour pattern(s) is influencing your flight. The sooner you do this, the better your chances for a safe and pleasant flight.
Peer Pressure: Poor decision making based upon emotional response to peers rather than evaluating a situation objectively.
Mind Set: The inability to recognize and cope with changes in the situation different from those anticipated or planned.
Get-There: It is this tendency, common among pilots, clouds the vision and impairs judgment by causing a fixation on the original goal or destination combined with a total disregard for any alternative course of action.
Duck-Under Syndrome: The tendency to sneak a peek by descending below minimums during an approach. Based on a belief that there is always a built-in “fudge” factor that can be used or on an unwillingness to admit defeat and shoot a missed approach.
Scud Running: Pushing the capabilities of the pilot and the aircraft to the limits by trying to maintain visual contact with the terrain while trying to avoid physical contact with it. This attitude is characterized by the old pilot’s joke: “If it’s too bad to go IFR, we’ll go VFR.”
VFR into IMC Conditions Continuing visual flight rules (VFR) into instrument conditions often leads to spatial disorientation or collision with ground/obstacles. It is even more dangerous if the pilot is not instrument qualified or current.
Getting Behind the Aircraft: Allowing events or the situation to control your actions rather than the other way around. Characterised by a constant state of surprise at what happens next.
Loss of Positional or Situation Awareness: Another case of getting behind the aircraft which results in not knowing where you are, an inability to recognize deteriorating circumstances, and/or the misjudgment of the rate of deterioration.
Operating Without Adequate Fuel Reserves: Ignoring minimum fuel reserve requirements, either VFR or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), is generally the result of overconfidence, lack of flight planning, or ignoring the regulations.
Descent Below the Minimum Enroute Altitude: The duck-under syndrome (mentioned above) manifesting itself during the en route portion of an IFR flight.
Flying Outside the Envelope: Unjustified reliance on the (usually mistaken) belief that the aircraft’s high performance capability meets the demands imposed by the pilot’s (usually overestimated) flying skills.
Neglect of Flight Planning, Preflight Inspections,Checklists, Etc: Unjustified reliance on the pilot’s short and long term memory, regular flying skills, repetitive and familiar routes, etc.