Fly The Plane

Recently, I took my introductory flight lesson and got completely HOOKED on flying.  It was the realization of a 30 year old dream and I can’t wait to begin the process of getting my pilots license.  Once on the ground I sent the requisite text message, including an aerial photo, to family and friends in order to commemorate the event.  Thanks mom and dad for the gift certificate!!! 

A few days later I was on the phone with Dean when the topic of flying came up.  He had taken flying lessons 30 or 40 years ago but his memory was fresh on the subject.  As we discussed my experience the topic of dealing with unexpected aircraft problems came up.  He shared that his instructor told him over and over the most important thing to do in an emergency is to “fly the plane.”  What he meant was to not become so distracted with the emergency that you forget to make sure the plane is staying in the air as long as possible while you assess the situation.  The first thing to do in an emergency is to scan the gages, set the flaps and trim for maximum glide path and begin looking for a location to land the plane.  If, for instance, the engine has quit running there is little hope of restarting it in the air.  Focusing on starting a dead engine while careening out of control is counter-productive to say the least.  It is critical to know what to do in an emergency and how to do it which is why you are trained how to deal with them long before they occur.  Just like the boy scout motto says, “always be prepared.”  I think of Captain Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed a US Airways airbus in the Hudson, saying what he and the crew did as a team was merely a result of the excellent training they had received. 


We all experience emergencies in life whether they be personal or business.  Storms just crop up from time to time.  When an unexpected challenge comes about consider how pilots are trained to handle emergencies.  First, and foremost, keep calm and identify the most important things that must happen to assure forward momentum.  Financially, check the equivalent of gages, flaps and controls to be sure they are set correctly…then deal with the issue methodically and calmly.  Knowing your plane will not careen into the ground because you prepared properly will give you a sense of confidence that will pull you out of the situation successfully.


Life is short and precious.  Keep perspective and set your priorities carefully.  Always, “fly the plane.”

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