If an error is possible, someone will make it

“If an error is possible, someone will make it. The designer must assume that all possible errors will occur and design so as to minimize the chance of the error in the first place, or its effects once it gets made. Errors should be easy to detect, they should have minimal consequences, and, if possible, their effects should be reversible.” Donald A. Norman, The Psychology of Everyday Things, 1988. Pilot error in many cases can also be described as design error. As pilots, not designers, we should be aware of cockpit actions that are NOT easy to detect, do NOT … Continue reading If an error is possible, someone will make it

Can you take it?

There’s some excellent airmanship advice in an article about the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska (The Red Bulletin, Sept 2016). It’s from helicopter pilot Lt. John Hess (in the picture), who has been awarded the Captain Frank Ericsson Award, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and saved a bunch of lives by flying many extreme rescues. He was asked, how does your crew prepare for tricky missions? He said: By critiquing each other. Even after simple maneuvers, like recovering empty rescue baskets. Anyone who can’t take criticism puts others at risk. Criticism is tough to take. I know. I’ve gotten plenty! But maybe if … Continue reading Can you take it?

Death before embarrassment

One of the best books written by a test pilot/astronaut is Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys by Mike Collins. He was a USAF test pilot, spacewalked on Gemini 10 and went to the Moon on the historic Apollo 11 mission. Here he talks about an interesting airmanship trap — Death by Embarrassment:   It’s hard to admit a slip or mistake or error. But don’t let that kill you.  

Airmanship at a distance

This is a sad story. But important to think about. For we are all our brother’s keeper. The news headline this weekend was ‘Flight school sued over death of student‘. Fox5 reported: A 21-year-old’s dream of becoming a pilot was cut short when during flight school his plane came crashing down, killing him, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Cobb County. The father of the young man filed that suit alleging the school was negligent by forgetting to refuel the plane. “I don’t want another family to experience that kind of loss,” said Michael Hughes. This was the reason … Continue reading Airmanship at a distance