The 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' phenomenon

SOME human psychologists refer to the transformation of personality role playing which temporarily occur in people when buying a house or car. A sense of personal power is derived from having an agent and several assistants dance to his every need and whim. Having a couple of Rand to acquire an aeroplane at times produces such role reversing personality effects in some individuals.

Experienced owners, pilots and instructors refer to the 'thin logbook, thick chequebook' syndrome. The intrepid buyer may show traits of being hot-headed, assertive, autocratic and directive. He or she may invariably be 'in a rush', leaving the impression of importance and no or little time to waste. Such attitudes may translate into people adopting the 'Type A' personality classification - seen in real high powered billionaires and heads of state.

Such people need to have their egos boosted and may manifest as what the footslogging aircraft sales agents in the game see as 'tyre kickers'. After the sale some try to prolong the sensation of might with multiple comebacks about relatively petty stuff. They are forever 'in the market' and their phone conversations are invariably 'acted out' before an 'audience'.

In some cases little men - note, not women - with big egos invent theory and incorporate such notions into their flying. They go to places for which they are not up to in aircraft they should not really have. They 'buy' timid people to 'sing their praises' - the odd retired airline jock, looking for a ride - or the low paid instructor. It's not a matter of being condescending. Merely look at the monthly aviation statistics printed in aviation magazines, courtesy of a reputable insurance firm.

Retired airline pilot Hilton Atherstone recently made his case by having a few pilots look at a You-Tube video clip of a T-4 Trojan approaching an aircraft carrier to land. The nose attitude is recognizably high and the approach is off-centre - as the pilot probably could not see where he was going. The aircraft is waved away, banks to the left then rolls inverted and crashes in a ball of flame on deck. None of the viewers could even identify, let alone explain, the phenomenon of stalling and autorotation. Even more shocking, none could recite even the most elementary lift formula. As Hilton pointed out, a pilot in the situation as viewed would have maybe a split-second to recognise, think and react - of wanting to live.

Especially general aviation seems intolerant to role-playing and behavioural changes, yet we often see the 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' phenomenon being acted out. Not unlike the characters in the Robert Louis Stevenson novel 'The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' novel which first appeared in 1886, otherwise 'normal' people tend to foster and adopt the underlying primal attitudes when entering the aviation scene. Proverbs 16: 18 holds true: Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall. Abiding by these guidelines holds the key to survival. Tone down that 'high minded' yet unsafe aspirations. Undertake those seemingly 'inferior' though much needed studying, practicing and consolidating steps in a less demanding plane, before advancing to the next level. Fly safely!

Johan Lottering - Focused Flying
Aviation Safety

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