Aviation Book: Fate is The Hunter

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This guest post is from Matthew Hood, a seasoned commercial pilot and General Aviation advocate.  He has many great stories to share, and we look forward to more!  He is also a proud owner of a Luscombe!  Please sit back and enjoy….


FATE IS THE HUNTER is one of my favorite aviation books of all time.  In his book, Ernest Gann explains from his vast experience of flying adventures how fate is always trying catch up with pilots.

I’m not sure if that is exactly true, but we all know that the punishment for tempting fate can be swift and terrible.  As we read and learn about previous accidents sometimes we ask how did that guy/gal do that?  The question we should be asking is how can I avoid the same fate as this other pilot who had a real bad day.  

For some situations there is nothing the pilot could have done to avoid experiencing the emergency.  A catastrophic engine failure comes to mind.  And for these situations we have training.  Hopefully everyone reading this knows what to do if your engine quits.  Other emergencies are more self induced.  Think continued VFR into IMC or a stall spin situation.  For these we have training on how to hopefully make good decisions to avoid the emergency in the first place.

But no matter what, few pilots wake up and say “Hey, I know, today I’m going to have an emergency in an airplane”.  Maybe we should.  If one is always searching for an emergency landing field, and all of a sudden one needs a field for real, that is one less thing to waste time on when the fan stops.  Updating your wx as you fly along on your cross country is another great way to use some brain activity in the present to avoid having to use a whole lot more when you fly into a surprise situation.  

Aviation Book: Fate is the Hunter


We hear about “personal minimums”.  Go get some experience to find out what yours should be.  Grab a CFI on a really windy day and have at it.  You will gain proficiency and learn what your limitations actually are.  Same goes for IFR stuff.  If you haven’t flown an approach in a while IN CLOUDS and there’s a cloudy day available, grab a CFII.  Again, building proficiency and discovering what your personal limitations should be is imperative.  But remember increasing your proficiency can be challenging but should always be fun.  (Remember that was the whole reason you got into this in the first place.)

The ability to prioritize your actions in a bad situation is also worth its weight in GOLD.  Years ago there was a student pilot I knew who was finishing their first cross country.  Unfortunately, a few miles from the airport the fan stopped.  The student was able to find a golf course which was great.  Unfortunately they showed up with too much energy and the student pushed the nose down into the soft sod as the green was quickly shrinking.  The student was ok.  The plane was totaled.  There was a full fuel tank in the wing not selected.  In all the rush, the fuel selector was never changed to the full tank.

For the record I blame the CFI for that one.  The student was put into a situation with a good airplane and good weather.  All they had to do was move one valve and everything would have been fine.  Unfortunately the student was not taught how to prioritize in a bad situation.  

So what can we do to help fate to go hunt someone else?  Train how you fly and fly how you train.  Always try to think ahead of the airplane.  Never take the plane somewhere your mind hasn’t gotten to miles ahead of time.  Play the “what if game”.  Use good judgement to avoid unwanted adventure and lastly, grab a CFI on a day that is outside your solo comfort zone expand your horizons. 


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