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Thread: Good Pilot - what is one?

  1. #1

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    Good Pilot - what is one?

    Please consider this a philosophical question of sorts. I am asking for opinion in a dialectic manner. This is a question I have pondered since I began flying and can't come to a conclusion. What constitutes a good pilot? I ask because I've been is several organizations and been around pilots and there is a population that are considered "good" pilots, as well as a population of those considered by some as "bad" pilots. As well as the "average" pilots. But as time went on, I found that the perceived good pilots all messed up at some point, just like the others. One took off with a tow bar attached, another who tried to taxi with one wing tied down, and other things. Not criticizing - everyone makes a mistake. But why are some who make similar mistakes considered "bad" pilots? The only element I've seen that distinguishes them is that some of the "good" pilots talk about it more, as in a teaching moment - but not all do. is it personality? Something else? Can someone weigh in? Or maybe this is an area where one shouldn't tread...

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by ams View Post
    What constitutes a good pilot?
    Are you familiar with Tony Kern's airmanship model?

  3. #3

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    To me a good pilot is one who recognizes their own personal limits and abilities, who strives to fly himself and his passengers safely. They are the ones who are diligent in their planning and preperation with the goal of completing the flight safely. They do not take unneccesary risks with their safety or that of others. For example no scud running. They may have a lot of experience or not, they may be young or old, male or female. They are usually the ones that decided to go to lunch instead of flying when the weather is questionable. They perform a thorough preflight before every flight. They show good judgement even in the face of pressure to fly when they are not comfortable with the weather or their aircraft. The bad ones may well be able to expertly fly the aircraft and make it do as they wish, but they are also the same ones you see pull the ropes off jump in and are gone in 60 seconds or less. The bad ones will buzz your house at treetop level on a windy day with their 3 young kids in the plane. The bad ones fly aircraft with known serious issues and take others up with them and disregard the risk. In short it is all about a mindset not so much about personality. I know a number of pilots that are great people and I would not fly with them. I also know others whom I dislike but would trust their skills, abilty, and judgment in the air without reservation. The good ones know that they will make mistakes which is why they try even harder to prevent them. They are not perfect but they aim for perfection.

  4. #4
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martymayes View Post
    Are you familiar with Tony Kern's airmanship model?
    Darn it Marty. You beat me to it. I think Darker Shades of Blue and Redefining Airmanship should be required reading.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  5. #5
    Joe Delene's Avatar
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    I may have to research the above mentioned model.

    When people talk about a 'good pilot' so often folks think of the stick & rudder skills. Of course that's important but I think it's as much or more so with what's going on 'upstairs' headwork if you will. You hear the adage of 'don't fly your plane somewhere your mind hasn't already been'. I also like to keep in mind, 'yes, it could happen to me if I don't keep ahead of the details'.

    Usually in hindsight the answer is obvious, the key is to identify the potential hazards before you encounter them & adjust.

  6. #6

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    Keeping ahead of the airplane in flight is a plus but planning all aspects is the winner. When I crewed in the AF Reserves we didn't get to choose who we flew with, they we're all good pilots who had to meet the Standard
    Evaluation (Stand Eval) requirements. We did have some pilots who were more "popular" than others and one Lt. Col who was very rigid regarding following the rules, he was called "Granny" behind his back. Granny was an Ex WWII guy, B-17's. The only guy I would call a "bad" pilot was a Major who was actually the "Active" Air force advisor for the pilot crew position, I think he got "stuck" in this position due to his antics in the Air Force, kinda doomed his career.

    Joe

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    Bob Hoover

  8. #8

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    Being festidious and anal does help...a lot. As a ppl student 38 years ago., my instructor called me 24 hour walkaround. I responded each and every time with the "good pilots" adage: Better to be down wishing you were up than being up and wishing you were down.

  9. #9

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    One could say that a pilot that only flies the easy flights in perfect weather, with no exceptions and makes it for a few years without incident, that pilot may be termed "a good pilot". But aviation covers a wide spectrum.
    Multi million dollar aircraft are put in the hands of good pilots. New co pilots are paired with good pilots. Good pilots are sent out in marginal weather to fetch someone with head injuries and seizures. People with questions are sent to that Aeronca pilot who is known on the field as a good pilot. Students are told to watch some guy land in the stiff cross wind because he is a good.pilot.
    Good pilots come in all levels of experience and qualifications. If you watch a pilot for a while, you can tell who the good ones are. Some get no official recognition. Some fly 50 years with no defects and the FAA presents them with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.
    I recall being called over to the runway to watch a teenager flawlessly land her very own antique open cockpit glider. She was known as a good pilot.
    Shucks. I don't know what a good pilot is.
    Bob

  10. #10

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    You will not get one answer to that question. The answer that different folks offer is colored by their agendas and experiences.

    Some will offer the answer that a pilot who flys within their capabilities and does not take "unreasonable risks" is a good pilot, however that is defined.

    Some will offer the answer that the pilot with some laundry list of skills is a good pilot. The contents of that list will reflect the knowledge of the list provider.

    The definition offered says more about the speaker than the topic.

    I will suggest that I know many "good" pilots, but their ranges of skills, experience, and judgement, do not all overlap.

    Track down Richard Bach and ask him the question.....

    Best of luck,

    Wes

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