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From Letters to the Editor

By Jason Morgan

May 2017 - I just wanted to reach out with a response to your recently published article by Radek Wyrzykowski, “Flying Is Risky.”

I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective on GA flying and its risk. As a “young” private pilot (I’m 40 years old, but have been a private pilot for only 1.5 years), I had the opportunity to learn piloting in mid-adulthood. Having been self-employed for the past 10 years and having run a company with more than 100 employees and 175 investors, managing a multimillion-dollar budget, the concepts of risk management are quite familiar to me.

In the boardroom, I usually have the luxury of taking my time (hours to days) to make decisions. Accuracy is desirable, and the cost of delay is lost opportunity. That’s okay — there’s always another. Pursuing opportunities in business is like flying approaches: You plan as best you can, and sometimes they still don’t turn out like what you thought. Know when to exit and try again (go missed). Or sometimes, when to exit and go elsewhere (divert).

Inherent in my hobby of flying is a risk. I acknowledged that from the day I first started pilot training (much to the chagrin of my instructor). One thing I did not like about my primary training is “scaring” pilots into safety.

The well-intentioned but erroneous act of scaring pilots into safety only stifles and stigmatizes the act of learning, gaining skills, and ultimately building confidence. I believe some flight instructors themselves have the bad habit of scaring students into safety, perhaps because their instructors did the same to them. Instead, student pilots should be permitted to take risks, such as learning what happens when you don’t use the rudder when stalling your plane [raises hand]. Perhaps this should be done in a simulator or with an aerobatic aircraft. But merely saying “if you don’t use rudder, you’ll go into a spin and crash” is not appropriate. My first stall was calm because the instructor did it. My second stall was downright scary because I did it — badly. I’m still nervous when I practice stalls, even though I’m now aware of what’s happening, that the plane will continue to fly and everything is okay (unless you’re 100 feet from the ground, which is the actual thing to avoid). What should make me nervous is impacting the ground. A stall won’t do that but failing to recover from one will.

I know that flying is risky. In some ways, this makes it fun. Not because I’m endangering others, but because I’m taking my life into my hands, and it will rely on my skills and knowledge. I take pride in developing that, and I do not have any hesitation to say when I don’t know something or feel uncomfortable, even if it’s clear and visibility is unrestricted.

If you choose to write more in the future, I’d love to see more thought articles like this.

Also, thank you for starting the IMC Club. I’ve been a member now for two years (started when I was a student pilot) and one of Joe Creecy’s early members in Nashville. I’ve learned so much by connecting with other pilots, and hearing a few 10,000-plus hour pilots say, “Well hmm, I dunno,” or make the same decisions I felt like I was merely guessing at. It has made me a more confident pilot in command. I look forward to meeting you at the Nashville IMC Club coming up in the months ahead. You’ll find a great group here.

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