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Thread: Superstition, intuition, and aviation.

  1. #1

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    Superstition, intuition, and aviation.

    I've been waiting for a week for the winds to die down in order to take my Bebe back up in the air, as I've put myself back at square one in the flight test program after the repairs.

    She's been up and around once already since everything got fixed, and and performed splendidly - even though I adjusted the timing to what I'm sure is dead on the money (it was only a little off) afterwards.

    Up before dawn to make the drive out to the airport to catch the still air, coffee made and poured, fresh pack of smokes, and something's not right. Rather than the usual excitement, there's a feeling that I shouldn't fly this morning. In the truck and on the road, the little voice is a bit stronger. You shouldn't fly this morning.

    Well, over the years I've learned to listen to that little voice, so I turn the truck around and come back to the house. If I'd of proceeded to the airport, I'd of flown her, little voice be damned.

    I'll go out there later today and give the airplane a very close look; maybe I missed something and just can't recall what that might be. There are a few cosmetic items that need to be done, like replacing the mirror on the rear cabane, but nothing that would impede flight, and nothing that would trigger that Little Voice.

    It's probably silly. I'll go out there and find everything ship-shape, and I've of blown an opportunity to take to the skies. Then again, maybe not.

    Am I alone in this? Do y'all listen to intuition, or is it more scientific? Have you ever scrubbed a flight because of a Bad Feeling?
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  2. #2
    CarlOrton's Avatar
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    Absolutely.

    I've gotten all the way out to the airport (31 miles away) and just as I'm walking around, it just feels like a bad day. Nothing to do with winds or wx, just get the feeling that something's not right.

    I get in the car and go home. I'd rather debate the woulda / coulda / shouldas from the kitchen table than a hospital bed.

    Carl Orton
    Sonex #1170 / Zenith 750 Cruzer
    http://mykitlog.com/corton

  3. #3

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    I listen to that voice. Probably for a different reason than the superstition, it tells me that my head is not in the game. Aviation is an inherently unforgiving pastime. no shame in say today is not the day for ANY reason.
    Rick

  4. #4

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    The inner voice or inner speak that creates doubt about a flight is my signal to focus and pay attention. I step back, engage a methodical approach to the plane and mission and absent evidence to support a no-go decision, the voice is on the same page well before advancing the throttle for takeoff.

  5. #5
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Suspicion, ritual, and intuition.

    Superstition is nothing new in aviation...one of the most famous is over 100 years old. During WWI, it was considered bad luck to have your photo taken just before a flight. The Red Baron violated that rule, and look what happened to him.

    It's sometimes hard to separate ritual from superstition. One cannot always anoint the tailwheel before climbing in; but it's superstition if you can't fly without performing the ritual. I prefer it if my wife tells me to be careful when I leave for the airport (my response: "Just this once"), but I'm "batching" it this week and it hasn't stopped me from flying.

    If your inner voice is telling you NOT to fly, and you're already wearing your lucky scarf, that's intuition. In some cases, it may be because your unconscious mind has seen something amiss.

    With that said, I have to confess to having feelings of impending doom during practically every preflight. I think it's partially due to all the accident analyses. I can look at practically any component and remember an accident triggered by it.

    When it gets really bad, I have a ritual I call "Sniffing the wind." I wander out to the taxiway, clear of the hangars, to get a sense how the wind is behaving. I turn and face directly into the wind to assess the actual amount of crosswind. If the spidey-sense had been tingling during preflight, I can usually find some excuse to not fly from a few minutes' wind-sniffing.

    When I get home, sometimes my wife looks disbelievingly at me, then the barely-trembling leaves of the front-yard tree, but hey.....

    Ron "It's worse at the airport, honey" Wanttaja

  6. #6

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    On superstition, my wife and I have this little ritual before I go flying.

    "Be safe," she says.
    "Always, always," is my response.

    One day we didn't have the exchange before I left the house, and within twenty minutes my phone was buzzing pretty much constantly (I can talk on the phone or I can drive - I just can't do both). I get to a place where I can pull over to see what the emergency is, and you guessed it - it's the wife trying to take the hex off.

    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  7. #7
    DaleB's Avatar
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    Frank,

    It's happened. I've listened to that little voice, and on a few occasions I've ignored it -- never, as far as I can recall, with any bad results. Still, the older I get the more inclined I am to listen to the little voice. There's almost always tomorrow, and, well, when there's not, there isn't anything you can do about it.
    Measure twice, cut once...
    scratch head, shrug, shim to fit.

  8. #8

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    For me, it's neither superstition or intuition. It should be called what it really is--anxiety and a degree of nervousness. It's happened to me on the odd occasion but only in the last 8-10 years. For me, aging is a factor in terms of not feeling invincible or immortal like I used to for decades.

    I don't hear an inner voice, it's more a sweeping feeling of something closer to dread rather than impending doom. It occurs when I haven't flown for a little while. It's all about the anticipation of going to the airport to fly. Very much like going to the dentist, the anticipation of any pain is far, far worse than actually sitting in the chair.

    Luckily the feeling goes away when I start the walk-around.

  9. #9

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    During scuba training it was stressed to us that ANYONE has the right to call-off a dive for any or no reason without regret. Same for riding the motorcycle on any given day. IMHO NO hobby/pastime should become a matter of life or death.

  10. #10

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    I had just taken off and was climbing out. Getting ready to cross the boundary marker at the opposite end of the runway then into nothing but grown corn I get this voice telling me to turn back and turn back now. I put the nose down some and bank around. Just as I start my climb again heading back towards the runway I hear a real loud snap. The throttle cable breaks and the throttle starts bouncing all around. I pull the choke and slide over the runway and land. If I would not have listened to that voice my airplane would have been in full grown corn that is ready to be picked. It would have been destroyed.

    I learned two lessons that day. 1st. Make sure your carb has spring on it. If the throttle cable breaks it will go wide open. 2nd. Always always listen to that voice in your head. Well I learned that years before when listening to that voice saved my wife and I from a murderer, but this is another story.

    Tony
    Last edited by 1600vw; 10-05-2017 at 01:45 PM.

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