Do the Wrong Thing, Learn
mistake is a valuable lesson, but only if there is a
recognized lesson and something learned from it. All
pilots make mistakes, even the professionals who have
been at the job many years. But I think it’s safe to
say, the longer we fly, the fewer mistakes we make, or
at least those mistakes are not serious.
discussion of pilot mistakes would undoubtedly include:
doors and cowlings not secured, check list items
omitted, an oil cap left off, gust locks left on the
tail, and wheel chocks and tow bars still on the
aircraft as it tries to taxi away from the hangar. I
will admit to a fuel cap left sitting on top of the wing
beside the open tank. Also, I’ve had the occasional
departure with the carb heat ON.
honest mistake is one where something is overlooked or
forgotten on a one-time basis. The driver who never
speeds will at some point, find he’s going a bit too
fast. Distraction, or just day dreaming could be the
cause. But his mistake wasn’t intentional. Everyone
makes honest mistakes sometimes.
When we’re driving our cars, there are traffic rules and
laws. Air traffic is governed by rules of the air.
Society as a whole has a set of rules, and if everyone
were to disobey those rules, either intentionally or by
honest mistake, there would be consequences. I don’t
necessarily agree with all of the regulations, but we do
need some sort of order.
Rules of the air are usually enforced to a higher degree
than the rules of the road. For one thing, it’s easier
to get caught if you break a rule in an airplane. Every
month we read about the enforcement actions, and the big
fines or suspensions that go along with them. Yes,
there are plenty of enforcement actions in traffic too,
but without question, more drivers get away with
breaking the rules than pilots ever could.
traffic, I know there are drivers out there who hate to
be following me. I drive the speed limit, I stop at
stop signs, drive into the correct lane when entering a
street, and yield to ambulances. I slow down far in
advance of the intersection with the red light, and many
times avoid actually having to stop, as the light turns
green just before I get to it. So far, I’ve not had an
insurance claim or a traffic ticket.
It’s the same when I fly. And it’s even better, because
a great majority of pilots are following the rules of
the air and the directions from ATC. It’s actually a
wonderful environment up there for pilots like me.
Everyone is usually flying by the regulations.
Many of the general rules of society that people ignore,
have no consequences. Some people get away with murder,
literally. But let’s not forget there are unwritten
rules, like respect, consideration, courtesy, and
forgiveness. These are important to interpersonal
relationships and promote harmony in a society. Without
them, we would go down the drain, and future generations
would read about us in history books.
I’ll be the first to state that some laws are simply
ridiculous. They’re born from knee-jerk reactions of
politicians intent on appearing to be doing something
useful. Every year in the U.S. for example, something
like 50,000 new laws go on the books. That bears
repeating. Fifty thousand new laws. Are these so
necessary? Do we need so many laws? But rules of the
air, for the most part, make pretty good sense. I will
go with most of them. Quite frankly, it’s hard to think
of any that shouldn’t be there. I know there are pilots
who have their pet peeves and some day I’ll write an
entire article on the e-mails I get referring to them.
the meantime, I will always enjoy flying into controlled
airspace and airports. The people in the towers are
almost always helpful, even pleasant. And most pilots
in the area respect each other. It would be pretty hard
for air-rage to become a problem. Who’s going to stop
and step out of an airplane to punch a guy in the face
for cutting him off in the circuit? If we all fly with
the spirit of co-operation, we’ll be fine.