Risk Management

From the minute I took an Introductory Flight, I knew I had to learn to fly. I’d been in small planes before. But on this airplane ride, I sat in the cockpit and steered the plane. What an incredible view. Flying was THE best, THE MOST awesome, absolutely better-than-everything-else way to go.

I wish I had saved my very first logbook but it went out the window along with so many of my other possessions when I flew the coop and moved overseas. That, though, is another tale to tell.

It was many years after that discovery flight that I actually got back in an airplane and learned to fly. And then, it was several flight hours before I reached this current tipping point: this awareness that flying involves risk and that risk needs to be managed.

It’s not like I hear this voice in my head that screams, “We’re all gonna die!”

No. It is more an awareness that there are things that can go awry that I can mitigate. Oye, that is a big word. I’ll re-state.

I’m not a risk-taker – never have been. In fact, you might call me a ‘fraidy cat because I am rather risk-averse. That said, you might wonder how I ever got my arse in an airplane and learned to fly.

The answer lies in a compensatory two-word phrase that, once understood and employed, has allowed me to do all sorts of things that my paleolithic brain reflexively says “NO” to.

That compensatory mechanism is called Risk Management. And it is a very simple concept that one might consider a way of life:

  • Assume there are risks
  • Understand what those risks are
  • Know what to do to about those risks
  • Do them
  • Take a look at how you did

Review, Read and Evaluate or, Rinse and Repeat

A large part of my Risk Management strategy involves “Review, Read and Evaluate.”

Chasing risk management knowledge has resulted in notes about flying scattered about my brain, my flight journals and in the margins of aviation books. I’ve discovered a twisted interest in understanding human factors that leads me to conclude that we, not the machines, are our own worst enemy.

Humans are complex beings. We can be moved, like flotsam in the current, by our emotions. Our physicality sometimes fools us (particularly when flying in IMC – Instrument meteorological Conditions).

But we must not let those emotions lead us astray. We must not let our physical sensations override that reliable sterility of the instrument panel.

Managing risk – and that is inherent in flying these machines – means a commitment to learning. The more information you have about that machine you operate, the better. It also means you need to fly. That means less talk about flying and more flying.

Flying, after all, is an experiential endeavor.