View Full Version : Flying together - do we criticise too much?
13th Jun 2003, 16:35
Two separate conversations with PPRuNers at the recent fly-in got me thinking. Both said they would be nervous about flying with other pilots because they didn't feel they were very good and they felt they'd be criticised...or words to that effect.
Now, as someone who learned a lot - and still does - from flying with other people, this worries me. Soon after I got my PPL I swanned around the country on a regular basis with a another new PPL; we both made loads of mistakes, but we had twice the fun and learned twice as much for half the cost. And sure, I felt he was hypercritical, but I put up with it or gave as good as I got("if you don't tell anyone I identified the wrong airfield, I won't tell anyone you tried to land on the wrong runway!"). Since then I've flown with quite a lot of other people, and I'd thoroughly recommend it.
But now I think about it, perhaps we, as pilots, do as a group tend to be too ready to criticise each other. Look at some of the recent threads. A genuine mistake, and half the world is screaming; "Bad Airmanship!" OK, I exaggerate a little, but you get my point. And I remember feeling as though everyone must be better than I was; I sometimes still feel that way. Are we perhaps criticising in order to cover up our own feelings of inadequacy about our flying, which we don't need to have anyway? We all want to improve, we all aim to do our best, and that is good. And flying is potentially dangerous, and has to be taken seriously. But have we - or some of us anyway - lost the fun somewhere in all of this, and stopped making allowances for people being inexperienced, less than perfect, merely human?
Now I come to think about it, the least critical, most fun pilots to fly with have been those with the most experience. Is it the nearly newbies, perchance...
13th Jun 2003, 16:48
Personally, I love flying with other pilots.
Having someone sat next to you to map-read gives you more time to enjoy the view, or vice versa if I'm doing the map-reading. I love trying out other peoples' aircraft, and I love giving people a chance to try out my aircraft. Looking out for traffic is much easier if there are two of you. And if you become slightly unsure of your position it's nice to have someone confirm that they also think you are where you think you are.
It's also rare that I fly with other people and don't learn something. Sometimes it's a new aircraft that I get to learn about. Sometimes I learn more about my own aircraft. Sometimes it's just a case of a bit of a technique problem. I once flew with another member of my Europa group as a passenger. My landings over the last few weeks had been even less consistent than normal, and my passenger happened to remark that he usually spent longer rounding out than me. My landing problems were solved. (Ok, not permanently solved, but I did a few pretty good landings, by holding off for longer, before they deteriorated to their usual bouncy style again!)
Then there's that infernal GPS, which I hate. It's far too complicated to use properly, you can spend longer setting it up for a flight than the length of the flight itself. But take with a passenger, and you can play with it as your passenger flies - or vice versa if he's familiar with the GPS unit. Suddenly that over-complex box of unnecessary gadgets starts to become more appealing (to me, anyway - I know other pilots would never dream of flying without programming their GPS first, but we're all different).
The list of benefits goes on - but I only have a limited amount of time, so I'll have to stop there. I hope that other pilots who I've flown with have enjoyed, and benefited from, flying with me as much as I have with them.
13th Jun 2003, 16:55
Definitely agree flying with other pilots has lots of benefits.
My main difficulty is that since becoming an instructor, if I ever fly with anyone just for fun without my instructor's hat on the relationship becomes much more difficult. The other guy is probably more stressed about making mistakes because he knows he's got an instructor sitting next to him, and I'm trying not to be instructory and make suggestions or point out mistakes.
Most disturbing example was flying with someone last year, 4-up in a PA28. I tried to make it clear to the guy that he was P1, then he went and took off without any vital actions! I decided to shut up but just make sure everything was checked myself, then dealt with it on the ground at the other end.
Genghis the Engineer
13th Jun 2003, 16:57
Criticism is rarely unhelpful, and rarely malicious.
The main thing is that it needs to be polite and constructive (and if a serious cock-up was made, private), so long as pilots flying with other pilots bear that in mind, I don't think it should ever be a problem.
Personally I like to beat the rush and point out my own mistakes before anybody else gets the chance. That said I usually make enough that nobody feels left out.
I always enjoy flying with other pilots, if I'm P1 or not. I always learn something, and it's no bad thing to see that other people do dumb things too sometimes :) Plus it helps to have a navigator when you find yourself somewhere unexpected, eh Speedbird252...
I hope that other pilots who I've flown with have enjoyed, and benefited from, flying with me as much as I have with them.
it makes me think back to Sywell. FFF gave me control and then 'failed' the engine on me... really enjoyed that ;) but at least he didn't criticise my rubbish PFL :) :)
13th Jun 2003, 17:08
Evo - what I didn't tell you was that I wouldn't have done much better myself ;)
13th Jun 2003, 18:13
Whirl and I talked about this on the way back from Sherburn and we were both mildly surprised about somebody being apprehensive about flying with other pilots. I can understand their sense of unease but as experience builds it isn't only a case of learning more yourself, it's also a case of learning that a lot of other people out there make similar mistakes.
As with any walk of life, only an idiot would pillory a fellow for making minor errors when they are very likely to make them themselves :D :D
I always try to learn from my mistakes, not always successfully, and I like to think that I can take constructive criticism in the manner in which it is intended. I'm sure there are people out there who would disagree with me but I do try , honest :O :O
Also, having skin like a rhino probably helps as well :p :p
13th Jun 2003, 19:05
I think part of the problem (and it explains Whirly's point about experienced pilots being more amenable) is that learning to fly is - for most people - very much a solitary experience. Possibly that's part of the attraction of the whole thing, especially for Briggs-Myers INTP's like myself:rolleyes: As we've often discussed on this forum, most flyng 'clubs' do a p*ss-poor job of fostering a real club atmosphere/ethos.
Anyone who read my thread the other week about how it all seems worthwhile after all, will know that I've done a lot of what Mr Everett refers to as 'mutual flying' since qualifying. Actually sharing the workload, rather than just 'back seat driving', this pretty much eliminates the scope for sour criticism. Having said that, I've learnt a lot from the people I've flown with, and some of it consists of 'things I would never do myself', but there's no problem with that; I regard it as lucky that I've had the chance to learn from the actions of others.
But sometimes I 'just want to be alone' up there - either way we win - as longs as we remember to keep learning.
Anyway Whirly - I seem to remember you being a little uncomplimentary about some others' flying on Saturday:cool:
13th Jun 2003, 19:26
So, I'm the pot calling the kettle black, am I? ;) Perfectly possible, though I think I was joking, if I'm remembering the conversation correctly. But since you didn't know I was joking, I guess that just shows how easily such things can be misunderstood. Oh well. Maybe it's just that aircraft can sometimes be easier to deal with and more predictable than people.
13th Jun 2003, 20:59
I think Whirlybird has made a very valid point - I think we do tend to be overcritical. In flying there is often seen as being only one correct way to do things; to talk on the radio, to join overhead, to lean engines etc. This is certainly picked up by student pilots, hence the angst when faced with flying with a strange instructor (we all know ;) that they will have their own 'correct' method of doing certain things).
And perhaps in Aviation there really are more absolutes than in other spheres of activity, so there is more opportunity to make mistakes because there are less grey areas.
And perhaps mixing with professional pilots and ATCers via PPruNe is not such a good idea either - the other people in the air and supporting us on the ground are such professionals that some people could feel very unworthy and therefore be very sensitive to criticisms as well.
I think it comes down to personality and maturity.
If you understand that you are not perfect, but if you accept this and manage your flying with this in mind, I think you will continue to learn from flying AND you will not mind flying with other pilots.
If on the other hand, you expect to be perfect and cannot function if you cannot maintain this fantasy in your mind, then flying will always be a nerve-wracking, and ultimately unfulfilling, activity.
13th Jun 2003, 21:34
When I first got my PPL, I was nervous about flying with other people as I thought they would be critical of my pathetic attempts! Other pilots always seem to know everything, and seem very confident.
Having got a bit more experience I've realised that my flying is not really any worse than other people's. Everyone makes the odd mistake from time to time, and having someone in the right hand seat say 'Are you sure that's the runway you want?' rather than ATC can be very useful!!
At the end of the day I think it depends on the personalities of the people involved. I've met a few people I wouldn't want to fly with, but then I wouldn't want to sit in a pub having a few beers with them either.
Another pilot to share the workload, lookout, set radio frequencies and just be there to discuss things with is great, and I heartily recommend it.
14th Jun 2003, 00:09
Flying together is good fun and you can learn an awful lot even from just sitting in the RHS.
However over the years I have become a lot more critical about who I am happy to fly with, more in particular as a mere passenger in the back seat.
I was always under the impression that everyone approached flying with the same respect and professionalism that I try to give it (no claims to being perfect here but try to make the effort!)
After being exposed on a few occasions to flying which made me very unhappy as I felt endangered I took the decision not to fly as a back seat passenger with people unless I know them very well and they were suitably trained and qualified. (Some may say overkill but I have 4,5 kids to look after so I like to do the honourable thing myself if I feel they need to go and live on the life insurance proceeds)
Happy to fly with most people irrespective of experience as long as I think that they are reasonable folks and I can get my sticky's on a set of controls.
If you fly a lot with other people it will pay off to read up on accident reports and distill from these the chain of events which quite often leads to incidents/accidents. For example 2 IMC rated peeps going off and flying into weather not suitable for their experience, where either would have long returned if they would have been alone.
Vis-a-vis criticism it has to be said that all comments need to be made in a constructive manner. Very easy for more experienced folk to humiliate the less experienced flyer but would have thought that none of us would do that.
Of course as recipient you have to appreciate that there are very few flights that go so well that nothing can be learned. In the day job we are practitioners and sometimes someone 'really funny' asks when I will start working for real rather than practising. My standard answer is that on the day that I think I know it all I will retire.
And as far as the forum goes and people being too stern; it is nice if people can be authoritive on the subjects that are discussed. After all a lot of the posers of questions are after information. You will notice that most 'snotty knowitall replies' are from half baked folk. Those in the know have no need to be beligerant.
My HO of course.
14th Jun 2003, 00:39
Definitely felt, as a PPL holder of a grand 2 months standing, and NPPL holder of 6 months) that I would prefer to make my initial and spectacular mistakes in as much privacy as possible!
Reading threads on here from vastly experienced people made that feeling stronger.
However, having met some of you, and realized that not all dragons are Ppruners, or is that the other way about ???..., I feel that I'm ready now to make my mistakes whether witnessed by others or not. I.e. that face to face meeting, briefly, at a fly-in is very confidence-building.
I'm now eager to share flying, to learn from others, mostly, but also to get the criticism which comes from an immediate reaction to something - rather than a reaction when the story is retailed some while after.
14th Jun 2003, 01:55
Now I have my own licence I prefer to fly with other people both pilots and non pilots, I still think that I am my worst critic and what I think is a bad landing others consider acceptable. I do feel that you learn alot by flying with others even if its what not to do.
14th Jun 2003, 04:13
I think the most important thing a flying school ("flying club") could do is to allow PPL STUDENTS to fly with non-instructor pilots.
The student obviously can't log it, and most may not want to pay anything significant, but they will benefit from seeing that real flying is fun and not hard work, circuits, more circuits...
14th Jun 2003, 05:56
Could not agree more! All exposure is good providing the person that takes these inexperienced folk up is safe and sound.
I have said on this forum before that it would be great to take students on longer trips whereby 2 peeps and one instructor would go out for the day and do a longer flight, to some different fields etc.
Takes effort as things need some planning, but that way you train people for what they want to do with their ticket.
Alas we are just two lonely voices in a vast ocean it seems.
14th Jun 2003, 06:32
Flying as a passenger rarely, if ever, worries me. I spent enough time as an instructor to get used to others flying differently to how I might.
If another pilot is a passenger then it provides just a little more impetus for me to strive to do even better than the standard I usually set for myself.
14th Jun 2003, 15:03
I think a part of the problem with longer trips is that most schools want to make money out of everything possible, and long trips work out very expensive on the self fly hire + instructor rate, so the plane tends to get loaded with people who will rotate so they fly 1 leg each.
I often found, for example, that club fly-outs tend to be carefully organised so as to maximise the revenue on both the plane and the instructor. Sadly, most schools are skint and a lot of them don't like a student going up with a PPL, on the (unspoken) grounds that the often-hard-up student should be spending every penny with the school and not contributing to someone else. Even if the said PPL is self fly hiring from the same school..
Anyone who does not believe what I say should buy into a syndicate, or buy his own, and then try inviting PPL student friends to fly with him... see what happens :O
14th Jun 2003, 16:19
I think you may well be right.
Unfortunately this is not in the long term best interest for GA. People who have been flying together from an early age will continue doing so after they have got their PPL. PPL who fly together and learn and stimulate each other are likely to do more than just the £100 hamburger run.
I can see that it is 'less attractive' in the short run for schools to promote this as it would mean that machines are longer from base.
A shame really.
As you say, if you want to get going you will need to get into a syndicate or buy something as the freedom you get from this is so liberating and will open skies previously unventured by most clubpilots and hirers.
PS: There are schools and clubs out there which genuinely stimulate longer trips and flying together. Some of this also depends on the GA community they serve.
14th Jun 2003, 17:33
I don't think that as a Pilot-PAX we should not comment at all, that would be as bad as the co-pilot who doesn't have the balls to face up to the captain. However there is a fine line between being a 'back seat' pilot and constructive comments. I used to be a bit of a BSP just after I got my PPL but have since learned to chill out a bit [maybe flying doesn't scare me as much as it did:D]
Me and a couple of mates regularly fly together, and it works well. We tend to swap pilot flying during the flight when the PIC wants a break / take photos etc....Its easier to navigate with two pilots onboard, and two sets of ears listening to ATC can't be bad....
14th Jun 2003, 17:56
Of course englishal is right. But it ought to be possible to comment without it being a criticism, to help out without it being a big deal, to just...sort of...fly together and share the work - though of course you do need to know who's P1, for legal purposes if nothing else.
At the risk of being accused of making a sexist comment - and I'm about to!!! - I wonder if women are generally better at this than men, and not just in aviation. I remember on a flotilla sailing holiday, for which I'd booked "Pot Luck" (ie, sail with other people who were on their own), I ended up with two other women - an all female crew. Everyone told us we absolutely HAD to decide who was skipper of the day, even if we swapped around. Well, we tried that, but it didn't work, and was unnecessary. We just KNEW that June would do the heavy stuff as she was an ex-county oarswoman and very strong, that Joan would climb masts and leap around as she was most agile, that Whirly would talk on the radio and manoevre out of port swearing at the Turks as she went as she liked the communication-related stuff. We shared it all out, and it worked just fine, even in a minor emergency when our mainsail ripped to bits in a strong wind and we had to get it down and start the engine quickly. No-one could believe it, but it worked for us.
In the same way, I fly now and then with another woman (my Dawn to Dusk partner three times now) and although we swap the flying around we make suggestions and comments and pretty much share the nav and so on - and there are never any problems.
So is it just that MEN can't do this? Come on guys, you're surely not going to let me get away with that, are you? ;) :D
15th Jun 2003, 00:48
There's one thing which should make women much better pilots than men: women can TALK (constantly if necessary) WHILE doing something else, e.g. flying a plane :O
I enjoy flying with a woman passenger; much more fun than cooking for her :O
15th Jun 2003, 06:54
Pleased to read that you had such a good time sailing with your mates.
I think your statement is a load of codswoddle, at best it provides anecdotal evidence that the 3 of you worked well as a team.
Not sure what it proves in relation to the thread.
15th Jun 2003, 19:58
The point I was making, perhaps rather badly, is that we QUITE NATURALLY worked as a team, with everyone noticing what needed to be done, without anyone needing to be in charge. Naturally, someone took the helm, but no-one felt that they needed to worry about whether they were criticising or being criticised, or who "ought" to be doing what; they simply got on with what needed to be done. This was despite the fact we didn't know each other at all when we started.
Now, I've flown with other pilots, and found this can apply to flying too. You might decide that generally one flies and one navigates or does the radio for instance, but I've found that we swop around without it being a big deal if someone wants...anything from a drink of water, to realising they've fogged out and can't remember what to say on the radio, to taking the map if the other person isn't used to low level nav and is finding it hard to manage. It IS possible to mention someone's doing something that isn't a good idea without sounding or being critical, and to accept that you've screwed up without feeling bad about it. To realise that two heads (or more) are better than one, that the fact that you or someone else is having a bad day or is inexperienced or just isn't the best pilot in the history of aviation really doesn't matter. To just give and accept help and advice when it's needed with no stress.
Before anyone starts accusing me, I do NOT mean you have chaos in the cockpit with two people both trying to fly and not knowing who's in control; I think that's obvious.
Now, in my limited experience, this has happened more often when I've been flying with women than men. This is of course anecdotal. And like all generalisations, there are probably many exceptions. And maybe I shouldn't have said it, because it would be sad if this thread degenerated into a men versus women thread...I've spent a lot of time on PPRuNe trying to avoid those.
And it may indeed be "a load of codswoddle". But maybe you'd like to tell me why it is. It's your turn to educate me. :D
15th Jun 2003, 20:37
And maybe I shouldn't have said it, because it would be sad if this thread degenerated into a men versus women thread...I've spent a lot of time on PPRuNe trying to avoid those.
and I can assure you that we will not have a scrap over this but as your opening gambit was:
So is it just that MEN can't do this? Come on guys, you're surely not going to let me get away with that, are you?
I felt that it was too much of an open door not to pick up the challenge!
As I have said in previous posts I think there is plenty to learn for all parties involved when flying together and those of us that benefit most are the ones who are receptive to constructive criticism and those able to give that in a pleasant way.
Not very old yet (although the nearest milestone isn't my 21st B'day I am afraid to admit) and have seen and experienced a fair few learning/teaching situations whereby this process did not go as desired and can not say that I could discern a gender bias (of course no proof either but then you were the one who came up with the hypothesis!)
Methinks that there is too much interpersonal variation in peeps to be able to state that women work better in teams than men. Or may be the England squad could do better by getting some girls in their midst for the next few games.
Back to you!
PS Thank you for educating me on the spelling of codswoddle!
16th Jun 2003, 02:13
I find it strange that so many posts refer to fellow pilots in the RH seat as passengers.
Why not split the tasks in a pre agreed manner, one flying, and one doing the radio and navigation. Obviously the LH seat is legally PIC and should monitor everything, but it not only gives the 'passenger something interesting to do, but also makes the flight easier and more enjoyable for both.