Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

I love the old country song entitled “Back In The Saddle Again.” That is what came to mind as I was pushing the throttle forward for my takeoff roll in a Cessna 172 the other day. Even though I have had my medical back for a few months now I have not been flying for other reasons since I did my flight review last August. Therefore, I opted to go with one of the instructors I work with just to get a feel for things again. Even though I was tempted to sing the lyrics to that old country song as we taxied out for takeoff I held my tongue. I did not want my coworker to think I was crazy and report me to the FAA.

I must admit I sure felt the rust. My first landing was not bad at all though. We had some cross winds. I nailed the landing, but eased up on the back pressure shortly after touchdown and did not keep the proper crosswind correction in, thus causing us to get a little out of line. However, Erik, my fellow instructor, reminded me calmly of the proper technique and the following landings were greatly improved. Being rather proud of myself after a few good landings I declared I wanted one last landing before i was to fly some discovery flights with potential new students for our school. On my final approach the winds were gusting. Therefore, I carried a little extra speed. In doing so, I had in a little extra power. Anyone see where this is going? As I crossed the runway threshold I did not reduce the power as I should have. When I attempted to flare there was too much forward energy moving us down the runway. In my attempt to land the airplane I demonstrated to Erik how to get three or four or perhaps even five landings out of one. Yes that is right, I bounced the daylights out of the last landing.

Now instead of thinking of the old country song I was thinking of the saying about pride cometh before the fall, or in my case before the bounce. I was a little frustrated with my landing to say the least. Erik and I laughed about it a little bit. Then Erik went into instructor mode and shared with me the reason for my bad landing. I took his instruction to heart and greased the three landings with the discovery flights that I had.

In the instruction I received after my bounced landing I was able to remember some simple, but important factors about flying. But I also reflected upon an important life lesson as well. I think that if we stop and think about things that happen to us in our daily lives we can learn much about ourselves. For example, I was not as focused on the small details of my last landing as I could have been. Due to this I missed some simple but important tasks that go into a good landing. My other landings were good; therefore, I assumed the last landing would just turn out that way as well.

Good landings, just like positive outcomes in anything we do in life, require actions and reactions. The way things turn out in our lives are all dependent upon our own choices and actions that we make every moment of our lives. If we choose to make a bad choice (just as I chose to leave extra in power) our lives (or our landings) will be rough.

The way to live a healthy life all boils down to making positive choices. For example, a young person who decides to hang out with the kids that are making wrong choices is going to be influenced by his or her friends and most likely start making the same bad decisions that the friends are making. Then after making all of these bad choices the child will have no idea why his or her parents are being so harsh and the young life will start to tumble out of control towards an unhappy existence.

I am not saying that by making positive choices each and every time we make a decision that life will be without bounced landings. There will always be a bounce here and there that are simply out of our control. However, by paying attention to detail and putting in the proper and positive corrections on the flight controls of life the flight path will most certainly have less turbulence and more frequent smoother landings.

Well, that is enough preaching for the day.

Keep an eye on the sky!
Collin Hughes
The Prozac Pilot

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