“Sometimes a pilot has to take a firm grip on emotions, forcing oneself to take a firm control of a nervous stomach or shaking hand.” Weather Flying, Robert N. Buck
Aviation is a world seeped in perceptions of thrills and frightful emotions. In reality, it requires just the opposite. Being led by ones emotions and/or physiological sensations does not make for safe solid piloting. It is more a walk of faith. Read on to see the logic.
I am a private pilot certified only in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). In other words, I do not fly close to or in clouds. In fact, I must remain a certain distance from all clouds. Some call us fair weather flyers, but even on clear days, wind, a mechanical issue while in flight or other factors can make flying challenging.
As an air traffic controller, I dealt with pilots flying in poor weather conditions regularly. In addition, for those pilots flying above 18,000 feet, where all pilots are required to fly instruments, I served as another set of eyes for traffic moving too fast to see and avoid on their own, clouds or not.
Thus, I am aware of the need to work from a place other than one’s emotions when piloting or otherwise controlling aircraft. This does not ignore the reality that there are real emotions or physical sensations in this mix of activity. It simply means one draws from a different place of operation. This requires the skill of intentionally and quickly drilling down to the right source.
The Process Of Intention
First, there will be emotions to deal with. Each time I walked into the control room, or now when I head to the airport, there is a sense of anticipation. In the case of the former, on a routine day with no adverse weather, the transition to an ATC mentality was somewhat routine. On the other hand, if it was the day before Thanksgiving (the busiest travel day of year in the United States) or if weather lurked, mental prep kicked up a couple of notches.
In the case of flying, even as a fair weather gal, anticipating pulling the coupe out for flight starts the adrenaline flowing. However, I do not let the Wheeeee! “I get to go flying” place distract. Nope, training kicks in, which leads to the next place from which to draw: training and knowledge.
Solid training backed by knowledge is essential to harnessing those first responder emotions and center on a more stable logical mindeet. Without good training and knowledge, there is no other place to go except what emotions are saying. Then comes the leap of faith which is about trust.
Trusting what you know and just doing it. When setting out to fly, there are several stages:
- pre-flight, when weather, other conditions are assessed, and the airplane verified airworthy. Once those determined right for flight, there is,
- starting the engine, with its various checks and verifications, followed by.
- engine run-up, and its checks, and
- control surface operation check.
…all before getting onto the runway.
Once trust is established and the moment, when all you know and are trained to do, converge on the runway, throttles are pushed forward and flight magic happens. Knowing the science, training and skill, you take to the skies
In the words of Mr. Buck “airplanes get us into places and situations humans were not designed for” . That is, our feelings say, “whoa, this is weird!”. Without training and experience one’s reaction could be dangerous, even deadly. Knowing otherwise, you ignore that feeling and enjoy the ride.
Piloting Informs The Spiritual
“We walk by faith and not by sight”. This faith thing is a choice not a feeling. As a pilot and controller, I make choices of which voice to believe and act accordingly. I learned about the faith walk rather than “what is seen or seems to be” from piloting. It has proven useful in cultivating my spiritual life.
As a Christian, this faith things goes much further. I now have yet another voice I can listen to on a daily basis, the voice of the Good Shepherd. That too is a choice, first to know Him as Savior and Lord, then to allow Him to speak to me, teach me, guide me.
Just as my ATC and pilot training gives me basis from which to enjoy flight, faith derived from hearing His voice through His Word, lets me walk into unfamiliar places in this life, with confidence. Although good and a created thing, emotions make a lousy guide in life.
How has this illustration spoken to you? What takeaway did it provide that you can apply this week?
Please share your thoughts in the comment section.