A Guy I Know Better Than Myself

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A Guy I Know Better Than Myself.  After switching frequencies, I heard a new voice come across my headset.  “Four Uniform Foxtrot.  Your are number two behind a Citation Sovereign on short final.  Cleared for the option”

We had just hit our Comm Transfer button, changing our radio from Chicago Approach to Tower at Chicago Executive airport just a few miles north of O’hare.

“Tower is that NXX4UF in the pattern behind us?” I asked.

“Affirmative” the tower controller responded.

“Wow! I soloed and got my Private in that airplane back in the 90s in Colorado!”  I cheerfully replied.

Since flying that Cessna 152 I have gained a lot of “learning experiences”. Most were good, some were not.  But all those learning experiences weren’t all mine.  Between the years of flying that Cessna 152 and today I have tried to grow as a pilot.  Not just from my experiences, but learning from others as well.  Over the years I have found several aviation media outlets that continue to help me with my goal of continually learning to be a better pilot.

One article in Flying Magazine I have always enjoyed reading is called, “I Learned About Flying From That”.  Each month Flying Magazine takes a story written by a pilot about something less than ideal that happened to the author.  The premise is for the magazine subscribers to read and learn from those who have fallen upon unwanted adventure in airplanes.  “I Learned About Flying From That” has become so popular throughout the years, Flying Magazine published a couple books filled with previous articles.

A Guy I Know Better Than Myself

I Learned About Flying From That

Another series I have always enjoyed is the Air Disaster television series.  In each episode the producers take an actual airline accident and walk the viewer through the NTSB investigation.  In one hours time a viewer can learn a lot.  Some of the accidents covered are ones I remember in the news and others are less well known but still very interesting.  Many of the Airdisaster episodes can be found on Youtube and Netflix.

I used the AOPA CFI renewal program for the first time this month.  As part of the material, AOPA has put together computer animation to recreate a few different General Aviation Accidents.  Fuel mismanagement, unintentionally flying into IFR weather, and stall / spin awareness were some of my favorites.  These and other great courses are available on the AOPA web site for free.  I know I will be recommending them to my students.

A Guy I Know Better Than Myself

Air Disasters

Why do I enjoy reading and watching documentaries about others misfortune in aviation?   Two reasons jump out at me.  For one, I truly believe that we can all become better aviators by learning from somebody else.  Secondly, I continuously need to remind myself that no one is immune, especially me.  I highly doubt any of these folks said, “Hey, I know.  Today I’m going to get in the news.”.  But they did…and so could I.

If you have never made a mistake,…you need to fly more.  If you have made a mistake, good.  Now file a NASA form andfail forward.  Learn and remember the circumstances that brought you into that situation.  Chances are you will find a similar flight unfolding in your future.  When that day comes, assuming you thought through your past experience, you will have the tools to make different decisions and experience a different result.

Have I ever mis-managed fuel, got stuck on top of a cloud ceiling without an IFR clearance, or accidentally got into some scary ice I shouldn’t have been in the first place?  No.  But some guy I know better than I know myself may have.  This friend of mine also openly agrees with the experts.   Learning from others to avoid unwanted adventure yourself is a good policy.

My original memories of that Cessna 152 came from the mid 90s.  Those were some great times.  Hopefully by trying to stay safe and always learning, I will have many more future good flying experiences.

-Matt Hood

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