Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Why Pilots are Amazing People

by Darren Smith,  CFII/MEI
from PocketLearning, September 2003
Private Pilot Navigation:  General Info Private Pilot | Why its a good time to become a pilot | Why become a pilot? | What it means to be a pilot | Why Pilots are Amazing People | Getting Started & Training Sequence | FAQs about getting started | How to select a flight instructor | FAQS: Becoming a private pilot | FAA's Student Pilot Guide Advice to new student pilots | Information for Foreign Students | How to save money on your flight training | Thinking of an Airline Career? | Pilots are very special people by John KingAbout Checkrides | Private Pilot Ground School | Private Pilot Ground School Syllabus | How to Get the Most From Your Ground School | Private Pilot Rating Requirements | What to do after the Private Pilot Certificate | Flight Training for Veterans | You Get What You Pay For

After training hundreds of students, I discovered a key in life.  A background in Counseling Psychology makes an interesting combination with being a flight instructor.  The result is a different approach to flight training.  Learning to fly is a very personal expression.  All your fears, hopes and dreams come out in this.  And its amazing to watch people grow as pilots.  The most rewarding part for me is that I'll give people a skill they'll take with them forever.  Other things I've learned about pilots include:

  • Pilots are risk takers.  They overcome fear and anxiety to gain their skills.  Then they subject themselves to an intense evaluation called a check-ride.  They know how to face fear with rational thought to work through any problem.
  • Pilots have a good sense of humor.  They subjected themselves to looking like a fool during their training.  They can laugh at their own aviation mistakes without too much self doubt.
  • Pilots are confident.  After all, they have a skill that less that 1% of the American population has.  Compared with 6 billion people, they are rare indeed.  They tap skills which are required at the right moment and the right conditions.
  • Pilots are good time managers.  They scheduled the time to learn their craft in the middle of life's pressures and demands.
  • Pilots are self-reliant.  They approach their flying with conditioned skill which wells up from deep within them. They stand up when the situation calls for someone to take responsibility.
  • Pilots are team members.  They know how to give up control when needed, only to become the partner in problem solving.
  • Pilots know how to have fun.  From watching another pilot's touch & go efforts, to becoming a flight instructor, pilots delight in their avocation and reach for the fullest life surrounding it.
  • Pilots are achievers.  They overcome every odd to get the job done, expecting the best from themselves at every turn.  These are the people in life who know how to get things done.
  • Pilots have faith.  They put their trust in the aerodynamic engineers who built their airframe, while trusting their engine and fuel supply over hostile terrain.  Pilots trust electronic devices for navigation... without which they'd surely be lost.
  • Pilots are always searching for self truth.  They always look for ways to improve their skills.  They know how to admit their mistakes and take steps to prevent them.  They learn from their mistakes and then teach others through their stories & advice.
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Good Pilots...

Being a pilot is a state of mind; a personality. A pilot's attitude, not just experience makes for excellence. Excellence is a quality standard in flying sought but not often achieved. Desire must be there but unless it is accompanied by application there will be no progress. 
A good pilot is able resist the temptation to do something unsafe, illegal, or stupid. The temptations will always exist. 
  • A good pilot will not fly in aircraft or conditions beyond his capability or certification. 
  • A good pilot does not ignore the FARs. The FAA looks to the pilot to answer for any violations. Sometimes a magnifying glass is used. 
  • A good pilot is always a student, striving to make every maneuver a bit more precise than the one before. 
  • A good pilot knows his equipment, its limitations and how to handle its malfunctions. 
  • Follows checklists.
  • Gets continuing education in the form of additional ratings, FAA "wings", time building with an instructor, and flight reviews.

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