Today’s Illustration: It’s Terribly Unforgiving!

. . . . .

Who:  Alexander Robinson, a Flight Safety Australia airplane pilot

‘Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any ignorance, carelessness, incapacity or neglect.—Anonymous pilot” [2]

. . . . 

When: During an airplane emergency — link to the full article

“I then committed a cardinal sin of low-level flying.

Instead of following the fundamentals of aviate-navigate-communicate-administrate, I stopped actively flying the aircraft and prioritised navigating. I looked down at my kneepad, right hand still holding the control stick, and my left leafing through the map pages. I brought my head closer to the kneepad, bending my neck down. I studied the page, seeking confirmation for what I was looking at outside. I was reading the map in detail, engrossed. Seconds passed by, and as I studied the page, an alarm sounded in my head. Maybe my inner ear felt the pitch of the aircraft, maybe my hand felt the elevators’ strain against its trimmed position, but I quickly brought my head up and looked forward, through the canopy.

I was pointing towards the upcoming cluster of trees, at a downward vector, only fifteen or twenty metres above the ground. I yanked the control stick towards me, and my aircraft’s red nosecone pointed above the horizon. I was climbing, passing fifty metres, well above the low-level flight levels. I realised that I had been holding my breath. I exhaled, levelled out, and took stock, before steadily bringing my craft back down to low-level.

I had scared myself—my breathing and heartrate were up. My instructor hadn’t intervened, and I don’t think he even realised why there had been a sudden control input from me. We were likely three to seven seconds from flying into the ground, and neither of us had realised.”

Debrief

I got myself back on track, waiting to hear from the instructor at some point on what had happened, and expecting to fail the flight due to the nature of the safety breach. He must never have realised, but it taught me a few key lessons that are true for aviation and beyond.

    • Aviate, aviate, aviate. The aviate-navigate-communicate-administrate (ANCA) model exists for reasons learned over a hundred years of pilots living and dying. The first priority should always be to keep control of the aircraft. No pilot has ever struck terrain while flying straight and level. Many pilots, however, have crashed as a result of prioritising checklists, radio calls, map-reading, cockpit indicators, or other non-critical tasks, over flying their aircraft.
    • Distractions can be deadly. Taking focus away from what can kill you, whether it’s the flightpath, road, or even a level crossing or seemingly trivial task, can be deadly.
    • Complacency kills. I was comfortable and confident for this flight, progressing through the training syllabus, and I felt I had the low-level module under control. Aviation can always throw surprises at you, so never expect a standard flight: confidence breeds complacency, which is dangerous. Know the fundamentals and adopt a lifelong attitude of learning by complementing that knowledge with additional information and training.
    • Trust in your training and your skills. While being comfortable and confident, I wasn’t sure if I was correct in how I was flying the mission. I was the captain of the aircraft, but I didn’t fly like I was in command. I needed to trust my plan and trust my flying. [2]

What: A Captain’s / Pilot’s Mantra

Aviate,
Navigate,
Communicate.

To a pilot in trouble, following this simple phrase can mean the difference between life or death. Early on in a pilots training they are taught this phrase. It is so basic, yet so critical that it comes to mind throughout a flying career whenever trouble arises.” [3]

Another Interesting Way To Flow The Illustration:
Talking to passengers is typically last on the priority list on a flight crew in an emergency.

  1. Aviate
  2. Navigate
  3. Communicate Inside
  4. Communicate Outside
  5. Communicate Backside – flight attendants [1]
  6. Communicate to the passengers

. . . . 

Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • “take heed”
  • temptations
  • beware
  • spiritual failures
  • sin
  • salvation
  • “behold”
  • backsliding
  • warning
  • distractions
  • personal separation (low level flying with no time to recover)

. . . . . 

Sermonic Example:

(Include whatever details you find useful.)

Then the pilot makes this statement . . . .

I then committed a cardinal sin of low-level flying.  Instead of following the fundamentals of aviate-navigate-communicate-administrate, I stopped actively flying the aircraft and prioritised navigating. I looked down at my kneepad, right hand still holding the control stick, and my left leafing through the map pages. I brought my head closer to the kneepad, bending my neck down. I studied the page, seeking confirmation for what I was looking at outside. I was reading the map in detail, engrossed.”

Why is that one of the cardinal sins of low-level flying? Because if you make a mistake that low to the ground, when or if you realize it, you have little-to-no time to recover!  The altitude gives you the margin for recovery.

Distractions during low-level flying are —  Terribly Unforgiving!

He goes on to say . . .

“The first priority should always be to keep control of the aircraft. No pilot has ever struck terrain while flying straight and level. Many pilots, however, have crashed as a result of prioritising checklists, radio calls, map-reading, cockpit indicators, or other non-critical tasks, over flying their aircraft.”

It’s no different in the Christian’s life . . . .



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