Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mind sets

Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.

I am reading another sailing book and am once again struck by the thought, “How &*%!+@ stupid can you be?” Maybe it is just the pilot in me, but sailors seem to count as “adventure” doing the dumbest thing possible and then, somehow, surviving to tell the tale. A pilot who routinely pushed the environment, weather, and machinery as hard as these guys do would be routinely dead. I may sail a boat, I may even get the chance to live on a boat and do some blue water sailing, but I doubt I will ever be able to approach it with such a callous disregard for what penalties might be extracted. For good or ill I will always be a pilot. I don’t challenge the elements. (Futile that, the elements always win.) I let them dictate what I can do, where I can go and when I can leave. I don’t push machinery past the breaking point hoping I can figure out a way to fix it on the fly. (And I am a pretty good mechanic.) Only a grave lies at the end of that path. When you get short on spares, stop and get more spares! Don’t keep going thinking you can use your dishes to make a manifold for your exhaust system. No pilot in his or her right mind would launch knowing major systems, parts, bits or various pieces were already past the point of failure.

I don’t get the mindset. With all the talk of being independent and self-sufficient the stories have busted boats limping into distant ports, the Captain broke and begging for help. Where it not for the kindness of strangers and the largeness of Governments they would never leave port again. (And maybe, for some of them, what would be the best thing possible.) When the ultimate failure, (a sinking boat) finally does catch up with some of these people they count on others risking their own lives to come pluck the “adventurer” out of the sea. How is that independent or self-sufficient?

I think I understand that being at sea is the choice to accept a certain amount of risk and deliberately putting one’s self in a place where help is far away. Flying is much the same. Even the best of plans cannot account for every possibility and things will happen that draw the line between the quick and the dead. Knowing that is part of the reason we go. But the idea is to reduce the chances of such a thing happening, not deliberately court such a trip to the very, very edge.

I'm sure glad some of these people aren't pilots. I would hate to be a passenger on either their boats or their airplanes.

1 comment:

Grandma Rennier said...

When you read stories about boats/jetskis running into each other or a dock, you stop and think - who let these people pilot one of these things? Where is their common sense?