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Pilots and their egos

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Pilots and their egos

Old 6th Apr 2017, 01:14
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Pilots and their egos

Elsewhere, there was a reference to pilot's egos. Yup, pilots pretty well have to have an ego. How much? I sure know some pilots whom I think have too much ego, but, generally, the pilots I respect have a noticeable, and consistent ego. Not too much, but always there.

When things get tense, their ego asserts itself to keep them sharp. This is desirable. What we do not want are pilots who will shrink away from a difficult situation, when the going gets tough, the pilot snugs up the seat belts, and flies with more skill and purpose. The pilot saves the day, and lands safely. No fuss, just safe flying.

It's worth noting that certified 'planes have demonstrated the requirement that all of their flying characteristics have not only been demonstrated to be compliant, but compliant without the need of unusual pilot skill, strength nor attention. So a moderate ego pilot can manage to handle the 'plane.

Pilots must trust in themselves, and be sure to maintain skills. Then they must commit to flying the 'plane, even through the challenging situations.....
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 01:58
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I'd be a bit wary about confusing "ego" with "self-confidence".

They ain't the same.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 10:54
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Ridiculous statement ! Pilots don't require ego's they require competence.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 11:12
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Why do 90% of PPRuNe threads descend into arguments haha. Plenty of Big personalities abound, and an outlet exists.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 11:41
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I was always taught that a pilot should have a fairly strong pessimistic streak, in order to keep him (or her) self and their passengers out of trouble.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 13:02
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quite agree, to quote Frank Spencer - there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots!!
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 13:23
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Pilots, pilots - what's all this talk of "pilots"?

Ego, huh!

I am not a pilot - let's call it what it is - I am a Sky God!
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 14:28
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I'm just reading Robin Olds biography. A great read, but I think he had rather an ego! The quote from Col John Cunnick went this way: 'A fighter pilot is all balls and no forehead. If he thinks at all, he thinks he is immortal; God's gift to woman and his aeroplane' As an ex fighter pilot myself, that rings true
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 16:13
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I'm not sure that ego is quite the right word. The first person that I ever met in the aviation world that I considered to be egotistic was a fellow student during basic training in the RAF. He gave the impression to us lesser mortals that he had preceded the Wright brothers by seven good years. Sadly, for him, those in charge failed to recognise his amazing talent and he was scrubbed at quite an early stage. I only ever met a very, very few like him in my subsequent long aviation career and most of them killed themselves.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 16:27
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I don't consider a little bit of ego to be a bad thing in a pilot, provided it is balance by competence. I agree that it's like "self confidence", which is vital, but to me, a little bit if well mannered ego can assist a pilot in following through on a good plan, as opposed to second guessing themself. Yes, the plan should be good in the first place (not pressing on into poor weather), but if the plan is to conduct a flight within your skills and training, and within the limitations of the aircraft, and weather conditions, a little ego can keep you moving forward with confidence.

Many times, I have been told, "There's the 'plane, go fly it". No type training, 'never flown one before, just go fly. Obviously the person responsible for the 'place is confident that I can handle it, so I should be too. My ego helps me with that. My common sense demands that I read and understand the contents of the Flight Manual, and ask any questions before I fly. But, once I'm flying, my ego reassures me that I can do it.

If faced with a system failure, deteriorating weather, unusual attitude, my ego supplements my self confidence to tell me that I can get through it, and land safely. For all the times that I have been being mentored by a more experienced pilot, each time they have said "you can do it..." they were bolstering my ego, as well as my self confidence. I learned to expect more of myself, which at least means to never expect less!
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 16:59
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I think we have a bit of a language problem here so I am going to bow out of the discussion.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 19:20
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Tarq57 has got it correct. You need a little bit of over confidence, not too much, just a little. It really is a fine balance; not too much, not too little. It's only required when challenging scenarios arise. Everyone should be able to cope with standard QRH issues; it's the scenarios that are outside the QRH that are challenging and need command and high confidence to use your experience to solve. Also the very adverse weather scenarios at difficult airports; that's where strong confidence is necessary. Too much ego will often lead to impatience & bad decisions. Confidence will allow you to make decisions when SOP's do not give any help.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 20:36
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Ego is one thing when you are by yourself. Its another thing entirely when an innocent friend is sitting beside you.

An excellent summary appeared on the Rotorhead forum; ahead of departure, inform your companion(s) that because private flying is inherently dangerous, it may prove necessary to avoid bad weather or other situations that may make it unwise to carry on to destination. And as you are the pilot in charge you would have to make the decision. When your passengers are informed before you start that safety may require a change of plan, they will get the picture.

I had an innocent passenger once who wanted me to carry on, but I told him I was getting tired, the weather ahead was below minimums, and if we didn't change our plan, we might end up dead, which would be bad for our image. He immediately agreed to plan B, we rented a car to finish our journey.
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Old 6th Apr 2017, 22:40
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I think JW411's comments ring true. I have seen this on many walks of life.
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Old 7th Apr 2017, 07:55
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I think the old time WW2 pilots were much more extrovert than the current relatively introverted types. Maybe it was because they where pressed into service, rather than wanting a career path into a highly paid profession.
When they were being shot at with live bullets, every day of the week, they knew that life was cheap, so they made to most of it whilst they could.

I regularly met two ex WW2 pilots, and even in their advancing years, their minds where as sharp as a pin. They could converse on many different subjects even late into the early hours of the morning. One even went on to marry a Philippine lady many years his junior. Modern pilots seem to be bland by comparison.

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Old 7th Apr 2017, 14:34
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Depends in which way you use the term "ego".

[ ee-goh, eg-oh]
1. the I or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.
2. Psychoanalysis. the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.
3. egotism; conceit; self-importance: Her ego becomes more unbearable each day.
4. self-esteem or self-image; feelings: Your criticism wounded his ego.
5. Ethnology. a person who serves as the central reference point in the study of organizational and kinship relationships.

It's good to have healthy (4), but not a (3).

You need confidence in your abilities when exercising your skills, and recognition of your limitations. Landing in a 5 knot cross wind may be easy peasy, 15 knots may be the max that you are comfortable with for your current level of skill, 20 knots may be faced with great trepidation, and 25 knots not even considered. A highly skilled and practised individual may think nothing of taking the aircraft to its 30 knot limit.

Even the supposed best let their ego (3) get in the way. Chuck Yeager trashed a F-104 when he had to eject because his instrument flying skills were not up to the task. The flight was an altitude record attempt, and he wanted another notch in his belt, and took over from the project pilot who had been working up to the record attempt in baby steps. Lost control, and nearly killed during the ejection.
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Old 7th Apr 2017, 20:58
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I happen to think that Harrison Ford has a down to earth approach if you pardon the pun.
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Old 8th Apr 2017, 00:15
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Yep Chuck Yeager does not come a cross as a nice person, totally ignorant about where the ideas came from for the Bell X1 and it was not the Bell design team. He thinks the British knew nothing about supersonic design but all the ideas Bell used came from Miles aircraft of Woodley Reading Berks UK who gave it to them when they visited them in the fall of 1943. I listened to him talking all this rubbish at Oshkosh on the 50th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier. Very big ego would not want to fly with him.
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Old 8th Apr 2017, 03:53
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I openly describe a group of pilots as an ego of pilots (like flock of birds, shoal of fish or murder of crows).

We all think we are superior (when it comes to piloting an aircraft) to non-pilots.

Never analysed the positives/negatives - only sure that it's the reality of things and that it is not something under my control - my ego notwithstanding! :-).
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Old 8th Apr 2017, 03:57
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horizon flyer, the XS-1 and Miles M.52 is a story I've studied in some detail, and it's the British who have the wrong end of the stick, all due to the false story spread by Eric "Winkle" Brown.

I've spelled it out starting on this page here,

We all think we are superior (when it comes to piloting an aircraft) to non-pilots.
Never come across it Sam in all my travels.
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