Editor’s Briefing: Pearls Along The Path – Pilot Advice

Editor’s Briefing: Pearls Along The Path – Pilot Advice

%“Those who refuse to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them,” states a loosely-recalled proverb. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and I’ve seen just about as many made by others, so I think I’ve accumulated a pretty good reference file at this point. The secret, of course, is to be receptive to the lesson taught, and thereby avoid repeating the unpleasant outcome of a bad choice.

My friend Jim Stevens is fond of reinforcing his statements by saying “I’m giving you pearls here, LeRoy”. Pearls of wisdom are not to be disregarded, even if we consider them scattered pointlessly, as in casting fodder before swine. We should learn from advice, hopefully before we have to learn from the test administered by our mistakes.%

Pilot advice, of course, can be worth about what we pay for it, meaning that everyone wants to give it away, so we do have to sort the pearls from the common marbles. You probably learned that when you bought your first airplane; you were confused by conflicting opinions received from the advanced aviators in the airport hangar gallery. One pilot warned you that the opportunity you’re considered is a badly-flawed aircraft design, and you’ll be stuck in a non-productive predicament if you buy it. Another pronounced it a great airplane that will bring you unending joy. Neither of them may have actually flown one, but they know what they’ve heard.

Grading the pearls, then, requires that you avail yourself of enough knowledge to see their worth. Just because you’ve read it on-line or in a printed magazine article doesn’t make it fully reliable. If the same advice comes from multiple unrelated sources, you might consider it credible. Save yourself some headaches by doing your own analysis, and verify the source as well as the statement.

Just yesterday, I was attempting to program an approach by hacking it on my own, without bothering to consult the plate or chart. I thought I knew the initial and intermediate fixes, which always have those asinine names of obscure origin. “Pearl” wasn’t one of them. After multiple attempts that constructed courselines off in unwanted directions, I finally hit upon the direct-to I was seeking, after which I pulled up the defining plate to confirm my choice. Hardly the right way to input a valuable bit of information.

Can we fly airplanes by relying totally on our acquired skill and wisdom? Probably, but just not as successfully as when we continually seek pearls cultured around the irritant of experience. We ought always to be learning more. My aged father said, “The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.”

Pearls, then, are to be found along the route leading toward perfection. There is always a better way to do something, and we’ll find it by consulting a truly knowledgeable source, or attending a training course, or looking in the manual. Guidance along the path is there; we just have to be ready to accept it.

LeRoy Cook.

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