I used to have a fear of heights. When I get asked now and then how I can possibly feel safe flying a little plane, I usually just shrug it off with an answer something along the lines of “I love the feeling of lift more than the fear of the heights”. I rarely, if ever, take the time to explain that, in truth, when I am up in the air, I feel absolutely no fear. Before I even leave the ground, I’ve gone through a process that helps me determine my risks. I know that “Take-offs are optional; Landings are mandatory”, so I do things that keep me safe. Flying has taught me so many life lessons.
I feel absolutely no fear
Facing fears, taking risks and making big leaps in life are essential for growth. But in the process of discovery and adventure, mishaps do happen and can sometimes be tragic. In aviation, as in life, most accidents don’t just happen. Situations occur because one has either not identified the risk(s) and is caught off-guard or, worse yet, has identified a risk(s) yet minimized or ignored it. From learning to walk, to driving a car, getting married or trying something new, everything in life is about managing different levels of risk and stepping into unknown, uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe spaces. As we take these steps, we assess and find ways to mitigate our risks.
Facing fears, taking risks and making big leaps in life are essential for growth.
To “be safe”, one cannot just passively wish for it. Being safe is the result of a process, done either intuitively or by design with guidelines and checklists. It embodies the never-ending “if-this then-that” type of choices and personal decisions that we make in order to avoid mishaps and hopefully achieve a desired result. The aviation industry utilizes a plethora of checklists that are essential tools for identifying and mitigating risk. The aim of one particular model, P.A.V.E. (Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment and External pressure, addresses key areas of personal risk management. It most certainly keeps many pilots calm on the ground instead of at risk in the air and can be used in basically every area of life.
One cannot just passively wish for it.
What flying has taught me is that I am not afraid of heights; I am afraid of falling. No matter what I’m doing, even with the best of preparation, there is still a possibility that bad things can happen. But, my goal is to wisely balance risks with good choices. The confidence to make those good choices comes only with experience and trust in oneself. I won’t say that I’m fearless, because I am not, but I don’t fear taking risks. I have faith that the ones that I am taking are making me more than safe, they are taking me to greater heights and allowing me to see with greater perspective, and to me, this is living well.
The confidence to make those good choices comes only with experience and trust in oneself