Aviation Safety Corner

GREETINGS! For this month's topic, I would like to discuss, "FIRST THINGS FIRST." How To Make Your Flying Safer by Applying A Few Simple Rules. If execution doesn't seem like the simplest part of flying to you, then you're doing something wrong. This is Part I of II.

Some things are important; while others are less so. When things get tense in the cockpit, it just makes good sense to do the really important things first. What's critical in flying is to be able to sort out the very important things from the ones that aren't. That takes clear thinking, a cool head and the ability to focus on the priorities.
We've all heard the old admonition to "Keep it Simple, Stupid." It's been around so long that there's an acronym to help us remember it: "KISS." But have you ever stopped to wonder how that might apply to piloting? Most pilots are pretty smart folks, because flying, by its very nature, is a complex business. So why make an effort to "Keep It Simple?"

The answer is easy. When things start to disintegrate, simple is definitely better. Under pressure, no one can remember everything. It's incumbent on the prepared pilot to simplify in order to quickly recall what's really import-ant. For most pilots, visions of broken airplanes, unforecast bad weather; systems malfunctions and overbearing passengers are all too familiar "pressure generators."

Despite the complications, there are definite steps you can take to prioritize tasks and simplify your thinking and flying in ways that will lead to improved SAFETY, CONFIDENCE, and ENJOYMENT.

Now, let's discuss, "PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST." Imagine you're at 300 feet agl after a routine takeoff at your local airfield when suddenly the engine quits. Suppose you're in the middle of a check ride, and the examiner deliberately says something that's so off the wall it distracts and startles you.

It isn't life threatening, but it could jeopardize your chance of passing. How about this one: You've just passed the ILS final approach fix on a dark, bumpy, rainy night when both of the "OFF" flags on your ILS appear at the same time. In any of these scenarios, the obvious question is what do you do now? Simplifying and thinking ahead are the keys to safely and successfully coping with unexpected situations.

KISS. That simply means it's plain stupid not to think, ahead of time, about some of the things that could happen and decide now how to handle them. Some very good pilots I know, who fly several aircraft concurrently will say, "They're all alike." Well, they aren't as far as I am concerned.

Even in the same aircraft, different missions-cross-country, ground reference maneuvers emergency procedures and emergency landings, basic instruments, traffic patterns-demand different skills and often different mind-sets. They demand different approaches to "simplifying."

Simplifications ahead of time-putting first things first-is easy if you can get your head in the game and keep it there when you aren't even near an airplane. Always be preparing mentally for the next flight. In pressure situations, it's impossible to remember everything that needs to be done unless you literally fly every day for a living. Therefore, minutes spent in ground preparation and simplification and pre-planning help to channel thoughts, prioritize tasks and focus action where it needs to be.

Now, let's discuss, "FIVE KEY AREAS." Consider these five points:
1. "Thinking KISS."
2. Preplanning.
3. Building an organized cockpit.
4. Separating concept from procedure.
5. Execution.

The more you get into the mental side of flying, the more you can use this kind of thinking to your advantage. Let's look at these five areas in reverse order.

Don't miss next month's issue, when we'll Discuss, "Execution." Execution should be the quickest and simplest job of all, especially if you've done the other four properly. In Part II of IV.

Now in conclusion, a little thinking, planning, concepts and procedures work, and organizing for simplicity can go a long way toward making YOUR FLIGHT SAFER, MORE EFFICIENT, CHEAPER, AND MORE ENJOYABLE.
Remember, make it all as simple as you can. Keep only the important things. First Things First. See you at this month's chapter meeting! Bring a friend along! SAFE FLYING!

See you at this month's chapter meeting! Bring a friend along! SAFE FLYING!

Larry G. Harmon

FAA AVIATION SAFETY COUNSELOR

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