I wouldn’t want to admit how many times I was terrified in the sky when I was a new pilot. I still can’t read some of the scenes in Flygirl. Not that those misadventures happen to me — some happened to people I know. But when I read them, I get scared for Jill. She really knows how to get herself into trouble.
Flying is all about your skill as a pilot, though. It’s literally in your hands. If 80% of accidents are pilot error, then you can do everything in your power to become the best pilot you can, which is something Jill in FlyGirl realizes. You can’t control the wind and the weather, you can’t control life and death, but you can control how much you know so you’ll be prepared to handle anything.
One thing pilots do to become better prepared is read about flying accidents. It seems morbid but we do it to learn from other’s mistakes. As Captain Karen Kahn says, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You’ll never live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Flying is a dynamic environment, and even with all we know, pilots still debate on what is the best way to react to different situations. The webinar at PilotWorkshops.com has a discussion on what you should do when the door of your airplane opens up in flight. Pilots picked 4 different answers. It’s not always cut and dry. Sometimes experience dictates what we do. But having tons of knowledge crammed into our brains helps us make split-second decisions considering a multitude of factors for the situation. You can never know too much when you’re going to take on the sky. It’s a whole other world up there. Training and preparation is everything. Click “Videos” above to hear experienced pilots talk about how safe they feel flying is — after you’ve been properly trained.
Luckily, Jill learns (albeit the hard way) that flying isn’t something you can teach yourself and a good flight instructor makes all the difference in the world. Of course, a little patience helps too. For my friend who quit flying lessons when a gnarly crosswind scared her, I say, don’t give up. Push through the terror. You can learn to wrangle the wind. And after you do, your heart will soar.
P.S. Good news: AOPA reports that “Over the past 6 decades, the per-flight-hour accident rate for general aviation has decreased by 90%.”