I often wonder how much pain, suffering, embarrassment, inconvenience and expense has followed these words

Usually actions following these words can be expected to be unorthodox and non-procedural and a strong possibility exists of some sort of disaster or another taking place.

Heard by a passenger in a 4X4 vehicle shortly before it rolled several times down the side of a steep hill, injuring all on board “Hold my beer, let me show you what my bakkie can do.” As you can see from the picture above relationships were not on a good standing after the event and insurance companies had many questions to ask.

This is a good example of the nonsense that can be caused by people suffering from “WATCH ME” syndrome. Although the driver was aware that the vehicle's handbook and roll indicator dictated a maximum roll angle of 20°, somewhere in his 'macho psyche' he believed he possessed super natural powers that would nullify this limitation. This seems to be a thing embedded in the psyche of many South Africans.

The words uttered by a pilot of a Cessna 210 to his pals before take off:
“WATCH ME” I'll show you a seriously short field take off”. Shortly thereafter he forced the aircraft into the air prematurely on the wrong side of the drag curve and then proceeded to immediately raise the undercarriage in typical 'hot shot style'. The additional drag caused by the retracting undercarriage was sufficient to cause the aircraft to settle back onto the runway with semi retracted gear and full power. Of course, what followed was an unanticipated 'seriously messy and expensive short-field landing.'

There was no need for a short-field take-off in this case and normal procedures would have more than sufficed for a safe flight. You see, by demonstration he had to prove to his pals what extraordinary and superior aircraft handling skills he had and what a brilliant pilot he was but the effect that his 'WATCH ME' actions had, was completely opposite to the desired result. It must have taken years if ever to re instate his reputation amongst this group of people and the insurance companies for at least being a competent pilot never mind a 'hot shot'.

If a short-field take off is required then good advice would be to follow the short-field take-off procedures as recommended in the Pilot Operating Handbook for the particular type of aircraft rather than becoming creative and using 'gung ho' unproven techniques.

If the POH tells that it cannot be done or it is marginal then don't do it - make alternate safe decisions!

Now lets take this scenario - a pilot finds himself in a field where the figures shown by the POH (taking into account all parameters such as density altitude, load, obstacles, W/V, slope and surface of runway etc) indicate that a safe departure cannot be made then the question must be asked what is he doing at this airfield in the first place, perhaps landing at this field was driven by “WATCH ME” land in this short field - You know all kinds of macho 'I'm a brilliant bush pilot' kind of stuff. Now the load must be reduced (passengers and maybe even fuel,) and all other parameters must be met according to the POH in order to make a safe departure in terms of takeoff ground roll, take off distance to clear obstacles and subsequent climb performance.

The sad thing is that frequently no calculations will be made and history will be repeated once again and the statistics coffers filled. Airplanes need less runway length to land on than they do to take off from!!!!

Talking of short-field landings, let me paint the following picture for you. The pilot of an aircraft on final approach at Lanseria runway 06 Left says “WATCH ME” to his pal in the right hand seat, ”watch this super short landing ” with the intention of bringing the aircraft to a stop way before the first turn-off. As he touches down he proceeds to apply maximum braking while the wings are still producing some lift and the full weight of the aircraft not yet transferred to the main wheels - a tyre bursts, rendering the aircraft unable to taxi under its' own power. A maintenance team must be dispatched to retrieve the stricken craft now occupying the runway. In the meantime there are two inbound airliners that must be put into the hold and an outbound mercy flight must be delayed at great expense and much inconvenience to the ATC system. All because of a point to prove!

Here is some advice, if ever “WATCH ME” pops up on your radar screen then back-track a few steps and re-program your thought process revert to Standard Procedures and recommended best practice. This way you have a far better chance of not only maintaining your reputation of being a competent pilot but of also averting disaster.

It is common knowledge that accidents occur as a result of a chain or sequence of events and a “WATCH ME” thought could well be the first link in the chain.

Leave the ”WATCH ME” to the participants of air shows where displays and maneuvers are carefully analyzed and scrutinized by highly experienced and qualified people and the flying is done using the right equipment and by pilots with the necessary skills and capabilities. The display sequences are practiced over and over. Even under these conditions accidents still occur.

Old Newton was no fool and propounded that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. A macho ego is not exempt from this law. The old issue of cause and effect.

Every pilot should be of the mindset to a high level of planning each flight carefully and assessing the possible risks and threats and then acting accordingly.
How can any of this take place if snap decisions are made to perform flight maneouvres beyond normal and standard recommended practice.

Just a few examples amongst a thousand to be extremely wary of - don't get sucked in!

The adhoc in flight decision to form up and execute a low level formation fly by. The snap decision to buzz the field (of course with onlookers watching). The unscheduled sharp pull up or aerobatic maneouvre. The decision to take off in weather below required minima.


Are our egos so powerful that they preclude us from learning from the past and cause us to make the same errors over and over again with the same result? It was once said that the definition of insanity is to carry on doing the same thing over and over again without making any changes and then expecting a different result.

You see egos and hands work together - Without the intervention of sound thought processes - the hands will simply carry out the commands of the ego.

Egos and Hands work together - Without the intervention of sound thought processes - the hands will simply carry out the commands of the ego.

Chris Kyle - Training Track
Aviation Safety

Copyright © 2024 Pilot's Post PTY Ltd
The information, views and opinions by the authors contributing to Pilot’s Post are not necessarily those of the editor or other writers at Pilot’s Post.