1 in 5 biz jet pilots are stupid?

Ripped from the aviation press headlines: One in five business jet pilots don’t do a full flight-control check before takeoff. Actually one in five is a bit of an exaggeration. The would be 20%. The more precise number is 17.66%. And that’s actually a per-flight percentage, so maybe the percentage of pilots is a little less. But WTF Batman! 17.66%? You may have read about the fatal 2014 Gulfstream G-IV crash caused by the crew not doing a flight-control check and then trying to takeoff with the gust lock engaged. Well, now the airmanship onion has been peeled back a … Continue reading 1 in 5 biz jet pilots are stupid?

Meditating military helicopter pilots

A peer-reviewed scientific study published this year shows the positive impact of meditation on personnel in two Norwegian Air Force helicopter squadrons. This was not new-age wishful thinking, or sloppy science self-reporting that some people felt good. No, this was university and Air Force doctors and scientists taking chemical measurements of salivary cortisol, testing performance on computer-based cognitive tasks, and comparing the results to a control group. The subjects were all high-performance airmen during a prolonged period of high-demand work. This is real-world stuff. The results: From a mixed between–within analysis revealed that the [mindfulness training] participants compared to the control group had … Continue reading Meditating military helicopter pilots

Do ‘brain-training’ games make you a better pilot?

The Association for Psychological Science recently published a massive 200-page research report on brain training programs, seeing if fun cognitive tasks or games can enhance performance on other tasks. Peer-reviewed, respected authors, fully-referenced. It covered all the valid studies that have examined this question, a huge research database. And the results? Based on this examination, we find extensive evidence that brain-training interventions improve performance on the trained tasks, less evidence that such interventions improve performance on closely related tasks, and little evidence that training enhances performance on distantly related tasks or that training improves everyday cognitive performance. So no, they don’t! … Continue reading Do ‘brain-training’ games make you a better pilot?

Are you a low-gain pilot?

Reading the (excellent) new book Into the Black, about the flight test history of the Space Shuttle, I was intrigued by this line: “Engle was a low-gain pilot. Like Charles Lindbergh or Chuck Yeager, he barely moved the stick, anticipating the need to do so and making small, necessary corrections in plenty of time. His inputs were smooth and progressive, never snatching at the controls.” Rowland White, Into the Black. The author is talking about Joe Engle, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. He was scheduled to land on the Moon, a dream dashed by budget cuts, but ended … Continue reading Are you a low-gain pilot?