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View Diary: A Reason to Read 'Maxim' (11 comments)

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  •  Human nature (0+ / 0-)

    The fact is, people make bad decisions all the time. They usually get away with it.  But if they keep making bad decisions, eventually that will catch up with them, and the result is tragedy.

    We all make bad decisions.  When we're driving along, we look down for just an instant to grab a CD, or dial number on a cell phone, or fumble with something. You look up and WHOA, SHITE!!! you jam on the brakes or swerve around the guy who stopped in front of you.  You zoom by saying "I'll never make that mistake again!" But eventually, you let your guard down a bit, and over time you get complacent.  Maybe the next time you rear-end someone, or maybe you're lucky and you stop in time.

    It's the same thing for pilots. We make thousands of decisions, large and small, every time we fly.  Usually if we make a small mistake, there's no real consequence.  Often, you can get away with it even if you make a big mistake.  But eventually...

    The problem is compounded by personalities who feel they are invulnerable or somehow "special" - the JFK Jr. accident comes to mind.  He made a rookie mistake.  If he had had a more humble life, maybe he would have made a more conservative decision.  But there's nothing mysterious about his crash - he just fucked up (to put it bluntly).  Same with the others you mentioned.  But lots of non-famous guys kill themselves in airplanes (and cars), too, so it's not just the fame.  People make mistakes.  Mistakes are dangerous when you're in going down the freeway at 60 mph in traffic.  They get more dangerous when you start going faster and higher (OTOH, when there are no other vehicles nearby to hit, you can get away with mistakes - so I actually find flying more forgiving, and more relaxing, than driving - but that's a separate issue).  Bottom line is we're all human, and humans screw up sometimes.

    Pilots are trained to follow procedures strictly, to use checklists, to double-check things, etc, etc.  Safety is stressed over and over and over.  But it's tough to completely overcome human nature 100% of the time.

    When I first learned to fly, my wise old flight instructor told me: "When you are placed on this earth, you start off with a little bag full of luck. The bag starts off with both good luck and bad luck in it. From time to time, if you're in a jam, you are going to have to reach into that bag and pull out some luck. You will never know if you will pull out good luck or bad luck. You will never know how many bits of good luck you have left. The only thing you have control over is how often you reach into the bag. When you're flying, don't rely on what you pull out of the bag. Make good decisions so you don't get in a jam, and you won't end up with a handful of bad luck when you can least afford that."

    I try to remember that every time I leave the ground.

    Hope that's useful to someone.

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