Becoming a pilot taught me many life lessons-too many to actually cover in one post, it would take a book. There was however one thing that I learned that I have carried forward to every aspect of my life. Most of us are familiar with the idea that “fear is limiting” and of course we all are familiar with the expression “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”. Being aware of fear is of course one thing and doing something about it is another. There is one fear that many people still struggle with on a daily basis-the problem of admitting our failures and things with which we have trouble.
One story in my past illustrates this well. As a pilot I liked to fly in mountainous areas. This is fun and requires good knowledge of winds. When I was sitting around the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at airports in NH, NY, and ME I participated in many conversations about difficulties in landing and shared stories about how to adjust related to winds coming from this or that direction. This group knowledge and discussions on how to handle the aircraft made everyone in the discussions a better pilot. However, there was one friend of mine, also a pilot, who always said he had a “perfect landing” whenever we met, no matter what the conditions. Even in the worst circumstances he always made perfect landings.
One day I went flying with a friend versus using my own plane and I was hanging out at the FBO at Fryberg, ME (IZG). I saw a plane come in for a landing, a Cessna 172, and the pilot was having a very hard time. I was surprised that the pilot did not do a “go around”. A “go around” is when you abort the landing attempt for safety reasons and try again. The pilot instead completed the landing and a very hard one at that. We all stopped looking and went back in for a coffee and some candy (Hot Tamales). Several minutes later my friend came in (he had been the pilot) and it was one of the rare times we saw each other at an FBO. We talked about this and that and then the topic of the high winds came up and he said the winds had been “no problem” and said that his landing had been perfect, textbook.
He went outside and showed me the rental he had just came in on, it was the Cessna 172. He was a good friend so I said “man, why did you not go around that was a scary landing?” At first he said he was fine it probably looked worse than it was but it was a textbook touch down. I pressed and said “come on what happened?” He stopped defending the landing and said he had just gotten behind the plane and was a bit out of control. We discussed the winds and then went out and did some practice take offs and landings together and had some good lessons on controlling the plane in more difficult crosswind conditions.
My friend was happy and thankful for the piloting lessons and conversation. I also hope that he learned that no one is perfect at anything and we all need to be open to others views and experiences if we are to grow and be better at any endeavor that we choose. Above all we need to be honest about our successes and failures to grow. We also need to work harder at recognizing this in our friends in case they are struggling and we can lend a hand.
In this world of hyper-sharing and apps designed to make us look better in selfies we need to realize that life is not as perfect as it often seems in our news feed. Everyone has things they are good and bad at or some cross that they are bearing. Perfection is a goal not a reality for most. No one makes a perfect landing every time, no one passes every test life throws at them. We all work to learn new skills and constantly work to perfect the same. We all need to remember that by hiding the problems we are having we are limiting our chances to solve the same. So if you are having some issues landing, managing your team, solving or dealing with a situation that presents itself to you-remember that if you do not ask for help-you may decrease your likelihood of success.