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-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you
may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be
something we might never have considered before, or something that
didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized
it for the practical test.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network.
"I can do it."
This is the mantra of the "macho" pilot. This personality style,
labeled by the FAA as a "hazardous attitude", can severely inhibit
in-flight decision-making. It can also, however, be a positive
force in flying safety.
Note: Although "machismo" implies a male
pilot, I've known several women who become "macho" once in the
The macho pilot would not think to ask for help from others.
He/she doesn't approach other pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, and
passengers for help. These are the folks that won't declare an
emergency even if flames are blasting from under the cowling during
a night, partial panel approach in icy clouds. Macho pilots stop
training after the checkride, and may cease taking Flight Reviews,
especially if the only available instructors are young or
inexperienced. They may face medical problems not by working with
medical examiners, but by not getting medicals at all. In extreme
cases, then, the macho pilot lives on (or beyond) the edge of
safety and certification.
All in all, machismo appears to have no place in the cockpit...
or does it?
The up side
The "up side" to being a macho pilot is that it inspires a
confidence that, if tempered with judgment, is what makes aviating
possible. What sane person would fly at all without a sense of
control over his/her own destiny, and capability to overcome
adverse conditions? Further, macho pilots never give up-so they're
likely to continue to "aviate" when faced with an abnormal
indication or an emergency.
If you recognize that sometimes you can (and should) get help
from others, that the rules of currency and certification do apply
to you, and that you can better command with information from all
sources, you can temper the "bad side" of aero-machismo and
Aero-tip of the day: Find yourself "going it
alone" in the cockpit? Temper that macho attitude -- but don't
abandon it completely.