Every Pilot Makes Mistakes

Here is my latest effort for AOPA, the best aviation association out there.

I would love to tell you that as an aviation writer, public safety remote pilot, and longtime airplane pilot I’ve always made the best decisions when it comes to flying. The reality is, I have not. But this is also reality: Every pilot makes mistakes.

“The FAA emphasizes aeronautical decision making (ADM) in pilot training, and rightfully so. Good ADM can keep you and others safe (and legal) when flying. Striving for perfection is admirable, but every human is prone to make a mistake now and then.

One of the most common, and most dangerous, mistakes that pilots make is flying when there are one or more good reasons not to. We often talk about “get-there-itis,” the pressure pilots can face to get to some destination because people or tasks await us. We put pressure on ourselves, or others put pressure on us, and it can be hard to say “no” and postpone the flight.

A good friend of mine (who also was my instrument flight instructor) had many decades of single- and multiengine experience, with 8,000 or more hours in his logbook when he died in an entirely avoidable airplane crash after he made one wrong decision: to take off. Long experience gives most pilots a false sense of confidence, while inexperienced pilots may not fully appreciate the danger posed by a particular set of circumstances. So, old salts and young aviators alike should always be prepared to make the tough choices and say “no” to flying at times.”

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