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Pilot

Posts about pilot skills, knowledge, and judgment

A large group had gathered for dinner at a favorite restaurant to honor our friend Bob, one of the earliest members of our flying club, who had recently sold his share after more than 40 years of membership. The room was packed. Large quantities of pizza, salad, and wine were consumed, and the hangar talk flowed. As physical appetites were sated, the time was ripe for some more formal storytelling—well, as formal as we get. Anders, our club president, assumed the role of master of ceremonies, laying out the rough plan for the after-dinner activities. He then yielded the floor to our Bonanza's crew chief Hal, who introduced one of the club's epic stories and the pilot, Paul, who in the early 1990's was at the center of it.

More on The Through Bolt Award

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With a knot in my gut, I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep. About eight hours earlier I had scared myself badly by hamfisting a glider onto the ground repeatedly as I attempted to land with way too much speed (see my welcome post). What's more, I'd embarrassed myself by doing it very publicly in front of a large group of pilots gathered on the porch outside the FBO. I was a student pilot returning from a mid-afternoon solo flight on a particularly turbulent day, and in my terror of stalling the glider in the traffic pattern, I let the speed increase far beyond what was needed. The resulting porpoised landing was virtually inevitable. Fortunately, the glider wasn't damaged. The old adage would say that nothing was hurt but my pride, but that's not quite right. It was my confidence that took a hit. As I lay in bed, I seriously doubted whether I had the capacity to fly an aircraft safely and well.

More on Doubt

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John Spiteri, a pilot and blogger in England, recently contacted me in response to my Go Around post from a few weeks ago. One of the topics from our email exchange that particularly struck me was the relationship between confidence and experience. I realized it was time for a post addressing confidence directly. This blog is The Confident Pilot after all!

More on Confidence

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"Why aren't we climbing?" Janet asked.

I was busy. I had just bounced a landing and didn't think much of our prospects for setting down safely on the remaining runway. We were at full power and the stall horn was chirping as I began alternately raising the flaps in increments and re-trimming to accelerate in ground effect. All 150 of our little Cessna's horses were running as hard as they could. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally developed a positive rate of climb as the last of the runway disappeared behind us. After a slight turn to avoid the tallest of the trees ahead, I answered my patient wife.

More on Go Around

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As we often do, my buddy Tim and I recently spent a satisfying hour of pattern work at a nearby airport in my club's Cessna 172. Afterwards, he and his wife Janine joined my wife Janet and me for dinner at a favorite Italian place.

More on My Own Worst Critic?

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