So far I hadn’t flown this year. Due to a combination of circumstances (see previous post for the various rules on not flying) I’d just not been able to get airborne this year. You might think that I was sad about that, but I’m not.

Last week I booked a holiday from work and 4 hours in the C-42.  Unfortunately the weather gods had other ideas and any chance of committing aviation was gone, for now. You might think I’m angry about ‘wasting’ a days holiday, but I’m not.

My club currency was due to expire which meant if I didn’t get airborne soon I’d need a check flight before I could take passengers flying again.  This would cost me more money and you might think I’m a bit annoyed about that, but I’m not.

The reasons for this is simple.

Flying has taught me to be flexible.  To be willing and able to change the plan when things don’t work out the way I want them to because there are more variables in play than simply my plan.

The ability to ‘throw away my picture’ of how I thought the day should have gone.  This is an invaluable mindset for anyone, not just pilots.

So I had booked a days holiday and I had access to money and I had an aircraft booked.  So what?  Yes these are all things I can control.  But I can’t control the weather, if I could I wouldn’t be an IT consultant any more…

Given that I can’t control the weather, there really is no point in getting upset when it doesn’t conform to the plan that I had in my head.  I realise this is easier said than done in lots of circumstances, but if you face life with a smile on your face you really will be happier.

I’ve read a lot of self-help books in the last 5 years and the theme of most of them has been similar.

In order to put yourself on the route to happiness stop trying to control the uncontrollables.  Change what you can change and then accept that there are things that you can’t change; in this case environmental factors.

This acceptance is what has made has helped me to become a happier person, and it has come through learning to fly along with my additional background reading.  By the way, if you want to start somewhere on how to help yourself, you can do a lot worse than read Flight to Success by Karlene Petitt.  This is an excellent book sprinkled with anecdotes from her life as an airline pilot which she uses to illustrate the theories she offers to the reader.

Being a pilot demands a strange combination of total inflexibility combined with total flexibility depending on the context of the application of said mindset.  For example.  I am not flexible about checklists.  I read each item, out loud, word for word and then perform the relevant check.  I touch the instruments as I check them to physically tick them off in my mind.  If I get interrupted, or something unpredictable happens then I start again to ensure that I don’t miss any items from  my checklist.

This, for me, is non-negotiable.  It is not something I am flexible about.  It is the way I have been taught and it reduces the possibility of avoidable errors causing problems in my flight. It also makes me happy to take off when I know I have done the walk around properly, taken my time over the checklists, and run through my ‘what ifs’ before pushing the power to full.

It is also the reason I will not go flying if the weather is not suitable. I am inflexible about that too.

So being inflexible makes me happy and being flexible makes me happy.  It’s a strange world we live in but I guess context is everything in this case.

By the way, in case you are interested in what I did with my day off?  I used it to sit down and write the outline of this blog post.  Something else I get a lot of enjoyment out of and which makes me smile.

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Father and Son – taken by my mother

And I did get to fly a couple of days later, on Sunday, with my Dad.  The first time he’s ever been up with me, and the weather was benign and calm and we got to go out to the coast which he really enjoyed!

Copyright © 2017 Dan Roach

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5 thoughts on “Why flying has made me a better and happier person

  1. Dan, This is a great post… and I thought that before I saw the mention of Flight To Success. Thank you so much!! And thank you for sharing your perspective on being flexible. That’s actually one of the requirements for a safety culture to support safety management systems….. Flexibility. Keep these posts coming! Important for all to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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