A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning
Training tips for students and pilots
Prior to taking to the air with passengers, you should always provide them with a briefing of key safety items and what to expect during the entire flight, from engine start to shut-down. While this can be done very concisely once in the plane, the equally important part is to brief them well ahead of time about that insidious risk of flying and contributing factor to the alarming majority of flying accidents: external pressures.
A basic definition of an external pressure is anything putting pressure on you to begin or continue a flight when you have a gut feeling you should cancel or discontinue it. Common external pressures range from a simple promise to take someone flying to a planned flight to a business meeting or family gettogether.
One of the most prevalent of all external pressures is known as “get there-itis”. This is the desire to always end a flight at your planned destination or home. This strong desire to “get home” can cause us to consciously or subconsciously ignore valuable cues.
These cues should alert us to cancel a flight or seek alternate ground or airline transportation if we haven’t departed yet, or divert to another airport if we have. Pilots have to look out for “get home-itis” in ourselves but also in our passengers.
As soon as a friend or loved one decides to take to the skies with you and become your passenger, you owe it to them, yourself and people on the ground to brief them about external pressures, including get home-itis. This briefing should not be provided for the first time while you’re sitting in the airplane, ready to perform your “Before Starting Engine Checklist”. It should occur as soon as someone decides they wish to fly with you.
This way, it becomes part of the culture and fabric of safe flying. There are no expectations, no illusions that you can operate in similar fashion to an airline pilot in an almost-all-weather machine.
This is general aviation flying. We can’t always keep going to our destination and sometimes it’s simply better to make an early no-go decision…and just drive to where we’re going!
Happy Holidays and Safe Flying!
Be safe, have fun and keep learning!