Competence vs. Judgement

This post references the first official aviation accident in which texting was considered part of the cause. See this link.

Competence is one thing, poor judgment is another. The texting helicopter pilot was plenty competent. You? If you passed your driver’s test the state declares you a competent driver. But one more thing is essential to stay out of the hospital or morgue: attention to the job. In the fighter pilot realm we called this “mission orientation”. That is, knowing your mission and performing that mission while refusing to be distracted by qweep.

Qweep (n.) – Anything that distracts from the mission.

Your mission might be a safe trip to soccer practice or a road trip to Montana. You can do these while listening to the radio or engaging in small talk, but some distractions will compromise safety and must be ruthlessly eliminated. If fog gets so thick you cannot drive, don’t. If noise in the car is too loud to concentrate, turn down the noise. And if a phone keeps drawing your attention from the road, turn off the phone.

A pilot must protect the mission as though it were his life—because it is—and a driver must do the same. Politeness or bashfulness cannot be allowed to ruin a life. When the mission is being threatened, the offending distraction must be dealt with immediately and without mercy.

Mission Oriented

This post references the first official aviation accident in which texting was considered part of the cause. See this link.

Psychologists have found pilots to be compartmentalizers. This can (and has) made for some difficult interpersonal relations because we need a place for everything and everything in its place psychologically. Did you ever see the movie “The Great Santini”?

A compartmentalizer may be hard to live with because they ruthlessly guard the mission. Consequently, they are more likely to survive in a high risk environment. When personal issues invade the pilot’s mission compartment, the mission is in danger and lives hang in the balance. And here is the insidiously dangerous nature of driving while texting:

Texting (even just talking on the phone) involves emotional content, intense dialogue that endangers the mission by getting into your driving compartment.

Reaction times for those even just talking on a phone while driving are (on average) worse than for those driving under the influence. Never text. Turn off the phone while driving. If a call is essential, pull over to make it. This is the only way to keep your driving compartment clear of deadly distractions.

Texting and Flying

This post references the first official aviation accident in which texting was considered part of the cause. See this link.

Texting and flying sounds way worse than texting and driving, but is it really? When you drive a heavy machine with lives in your hands it matters not if the machine is an airliner with 400 people aboard or a minivan with the family in back. Different degrees of devastation is all. Either machine has plenty of energy for a fatal crash.

There is only one safety device that really matters: an attentive, competent operator.

With over 10, 000 flying hours and countless hours instructing and observing pilots in action, I can summarize flying as a series of correcting small mistakes. An airplane needs constant adjustments to hold speed, altitude, and heading. And cars? We steer constantly to stay in our lane, we operate pedals to control the speed, we look ahead to react to traffic signals and we react to the actions of other drivers.

When we stop correcting these small deviations, we get bent metal, hissing airbags, and blood on the windshield. If you wake up dead—or worse—wake up having killed someone, does it really matter whether the instrument of death had wheels or propellors?