Having the right mental attitude doesn’t totally guarantee that you’re always going to get the results that you’re seeking. But far more often than not, it’s going to help in a very big way.
Where piloting an aircraft is concerned, the right state of mind should be the governor of all actions. It is the state of being that results from having mental, physical, emotional and behavioural welfare.
Pilots who have the right state of mind are able to use good judgment when decisions must be made in the face of multiple possible courses of action. They recognize pros and cons of situations, and they are confident with the choices that they make.
They know their strengths and weaknesses, and the limitations of their experience and knowledge. They respect any self-doubts that they might have, and they never push beyond the scope of what they are firmly aware that they know and can do. They are aware of the value of circumspection, and they never fall into the clutches of inattention and neglect.
They are confident, but never overly so. They are self-reliant, but know that they can sometimes be wrong.
Pilots with the right state of mind want, first and foremost, to be the safest pilots that they can possibly be. They know that safety of flight depends on positive decision-making within the cockpit. They are, thus, aware that by directing their entire spans of attention and concentration on their tasks at hand, they are always destined for safe outcomes.
Problems from their personal world, they know, should never be carried into the cockpit. They keep the cockpit free of extraneous matters and disruptive thoughts, and focus entirely on the task of flying their aircraft.
Having the right state of mind means always thinking responsibly. The responsible pilot does not want to make mistakes. But, should a mistake be made, it is positively assessed so as never to be repeated. Pilots with the right state of mind know when risks are too high; they turn back if necessary, or know when never to take off in the first place.
Pilots with the right state of mind know the resolutions that they must make to be safe and competent at what they do. They know that flying is a privilege, and that they should execute this privilege only within the boundaries of their abilities and experience.
They’ll always conduct a thorough inspection of their aircraft before a flight, and they’ll resolve not to fly any aircraft if they know it has any operational defect. They resolve, too, never to fly an aircraft in which they have never been checked out beforehand.
Before every flight, they’ll always gather all pertinent information relevant to their intended flight, including a thorough check of the weather. They’ll not fly beyond the legal fuel reserves of their aircraft, and will land before those reserve limits are surpassed.
Pilots with the right state of mind resolve to know the rules of the air, and to always obey those rules. Low passes, buzzing, and any manoeuvres that constitute “showing off,” are off their behavioural radar.
Those with the right state of mind know whether or not they are physically prepared to fly. The best-prepared pilots, paradoxically, are those that will refrain from entering an airplane if they’ve recently taken any drugs, alcohol or other debilitating substances. They’ll not fly an aircraft if they’ve not had enough sleep, or if physically or mentally impaired for any reason.
To every such pilot, having the right state of mind means that they know what they don’t know. And they know that they can always get better at what they do. They value adequate training. They determine how much retraining they may need in order to execute their pilot-in-command responsibilities with safety as their utmost objective. They are always as prepared as they can possibly be, for the expected as much as for the unexpected.
When they think that they’ve learned everything that there is to know about flying, then the pilot with the right state of mind knows that they have reached not the top of their game, but the time to stop the activity altogether.