Respecting the Airplane

“A friend of mine asked me if I would fly with him to Greenville. I told him it would take me 30 days to get ready to fly to Greenville — we’d might as well walk!”

The above is a quote from my grandfather. He was a military pilot his whole life. We were talking about the dangers of novice piloting and the substantial difference in the disaster rate between private flight and professional flight.

“You don’t know how much you don’t know until you know.

That one’s from my dad. Also a pilot, he was referring to the enormous mass of knowledge and information surrounding aviation. I can’t think of a more exacting activity in the entire world. As a beginner, I am learning the advantages of planning every single detail before a flight so that I am able to keep my head up with my eyes out of the window while I’m flying. It is hard for me to enjoy a flight as pilot in command unless I have flown the entire thing through in my head while sitting in a chair in my living room.

It’s inherently dangerous. If you aren’t realizing that everything could go wrong at any moment, you are not respecting airplane.

This stuff is a reality check for people like me who have been flying for less than a year. Everything I learn proves to me that every aviation technique and protocol is so interconnected and well thought out that I will never even begin to understand the endless knowledge that is being imparted upon me by my instructor or the pearls of wisdom in aviation text books, etc.

That being said, I have never felt as alive as I do while I am flying an airplane. When I say that I am always realizing the danger of aviation, I do not mean that I am always nervous while flying. In fact, I am quite calm, most pilots are. We cash the nervousness in for preparedness, the understanding that everything can go wrong for proficiency in our aircraft. This is one thing I love about pilots — we have no choice but to carry these practices into other parts of our lives.

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