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Mon, Sep 18, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (09.18.06): Bad Attitude: Machismo


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.

Aero-Tips 09.18.06

"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 airplane.

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 confidently fly.

Aero-tip of the day: Find yourself "going it alone" in the cockpit? Temper that macho attitude -- but don't abandon it completely.

FMI: Aero-Tips


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