Anyone ever think...


New Member
That when you complete your pre-takeoff checklist and get ready to leave the ground that it could be the beginning of your final moments on earth? I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't want this to turn into a heated debate about whether or not flying is dangerous. We all know that flying is as safe as you make it.

But regardless of how good of a pilot you are, how many safety precautions you take, how good your airmanship is, can you ever really be 100% certain that when you leave, you'll make it back to fly another day? Not really. I'm not afraid of flying, and there are actually things that I fear even more than death, but its not uncommon at all anymore for me to say a prayer in my head before takeoff each time I get behind the stick of a plane just incase fate decides that I shall not return. There's typically only a 0.1% chance of that occuring, but you never know.
Only when flying around Tstorms and taking off out of short fields
Fear? You bet your life. But it's always on the way up. Then you get to thinking about a lot of things, but that all leaves you as you reach combat. Then there's a sense of great excitement, a thrill you can't duplicate anywhere. Then there can be no fear, no thought of life or death, no dream of yesterday or tomorrow.

I may be flying a complicated airplane, rushing through space, but in this cabin I'm surrounded by simplicity and thoughts set free of time. How detached the intimate things around me seem from the great world down below. How strange is this combination of proximity and separation. That ground -- seconds away -- thousands of miles away. This air, stirring mildly around me. That air, rushing by with the speed of a tornado, an inch beyond. These minute details in my cockpit. The grandeur of the world outside. The nearness of death. The longness of life.

Death is a matter of mathematics.
It screeches down at you from dirty white nothingness
And your life is a question of velocity and altitude,
With allowances for wind and the quick, relentless pull
Of gravity

Or else it lies concealed
In that fleecy, peaceful puff of cloud ahead.
A streamlined, muttering vulture, waiting
To swoop upon you with a rush of steel.
And then your chances vary as the curves
Of your parabolas, your banks, your dives,
The scientific soundness of your choice
Of what to push or pull, and how, and when.

— Barry Conrad Amiel

Lovers of air travel find it exhilarating to hang poised between the illusion of immortality and the fact of death.

— Alexander Chase, 'Perspectives,' 1966

Take possession of the air, submit the elements, penetrate the last redoubts of nature, make space retreat, make death retreat.

— Romain Rolland, 1912

The hard, inescapable reality is that anyone who flies may die in an airplane.

— Stephen Coonts

Just some of the quotes that explain it....death is insignificant when I fly, don't get me's in the back corner of my head but why think of it? I'm very optimistic but the amazing thing about life is you don't know what is going to be thrown at you next. The challenge is what it takes to get out of it. So yea, the reality is life is limited, but I am not going to switch my dream cause death is in my way.

I never worry about it. Even when things break, I just kinda go "uh oh" and start working to fix it. No point in getting worked up about something that you don't have much control over.
I believe there is such a thing as a healthy amount of fear. As long as it is not a debilitating fear, it is that fear that will help keep you alive....It will cause you not to take unnecessary risks, and to take all precautions possible before and during each flight. I don't think the fear you are having is a bad thing or even an abnormal thing. Just channel it into something positive....learn everything you can about your aircraft: systems, emerg/normal procedures, ect. Use that healthy fear to become a better pilot.
You know i know exactly how you feel, i dont really get that feeling when im flying, but many times when im a passenger it crosses my mind. Its nothing against the pilots, and its not a macho-pilot attitude, i guess its just that when im in control im to busy to think about that sort of thing.
That when you complete your pre-takeoff checklist and get ready to leave the ground that it could be the beginning of your final moments on earth?

[/ QUOTE ]Heheheh, what a timely thread. That thought crossed my mind as I was getting ready to head for the airport last night. I flew anyway.

"Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
Well God has a plan for me...So if I'm gunna die it might as well be in an airplane because think about people that dont fly. Lets say Gods plan for me was to die tommorow and lets say I died in a plane. Well if I didnt fly or wasnt in a plane I could have lets say been murdered. I thought about it my first couple hours but after getting IFR I really didnt worry about the weather and by that time I was over the fear of "crashing".
one thing that I do.. and its as simple is this: when I am pre-flighting, taxiing,.. fighting the urge to abbreviate checklists and/or be in a hurry, I just say one simple phrase in my head:

"Is this the day."

And I dont know why I need to be particular, but when I do this I dont say it to myself as a question.. but more as a statement.

I am only a 600 hour pilot. I have HAD THE DAY though once with a power loss after takeoff, so this little routine is good for me.

that said, I go forward with all the joy and fun that aviation brings...
It crosses my mind. The fact that I lost my brother to a flying accident recently brings it sharply into focus whenever I fly. I don't let it stop me though (it is the last thing Neil would have wanted). I am not afraid to fly, but I treat it with a great respect (even greater than before).
I think my chances of dying on the way to the airport in my car far outweigh my chances of dying in an airlplane.
Well, now I know why all those little things were telling me not to fly last night. It turns out I may have busted a TFR in place for the firefighting around San Diego. Odd, since the airport itself isn't inside the TFR, but the downwind leg of the pattern is.

Hopefully, it's a non-issue at this point; I just spoke to the San Diego airspace supervisor at the SoCal tracon (a call I initiated), she said don't worry about it, she doesn't know who I am, we never had the conversation. Still, I'm thinking it wouldn't be a bad idea to file an ASRS form.
That when you complete your pre-takeoff checklist and get ready to leave the ground that it could be the beginning of your final moments on earth?

[/ QUOTE ]

It never enters my mind during this phase of flight. When I'm getting ready to leave the ground there is too much work load to have those kind of thoughts. It would make me nervous sitting next to someone who thinks we might die while rolling.

However I've had an engine failure over very knarly Cascade Mountain terrain in a one filthy where I thought I was going to hurt myself. I felt confident I could land and live but vivid images of seriously hurting, blood loss, broken bones, not being able to move to get help etc. went through my mind. Absolutely can't think about death. Gotta fly the plane.

And some late nights 1, 2 am over other mountains alone watching forest fires lap up huge trees thinking "If I have an enging failure I am screwed..." On those nights because the ground (knarly mountains, big Douglas Firs, basalt rock etc.) is a big black hole and I thought I would be toast if I lost an engine b/c I wouldn't be able to see what I'm going to hit until my last moments...

I've adjusted my personal minimums since the engine failure
No, I don't think about those kinds of things. Otherwise, I might think that when I get out of bed. Who knows, maybe some terrorists will decide to blow up the Metro in DC and I'll get killed in that blast. Or a truck's brakes might fail and I might be on the sidewalk when it hits. Or I might be walking under a piano that's being lifted and it might fall on me. Or a big anvil might fall on my head after I try to kill the road runner with it.

These things might happen, but I don't dwell on them. Otherwise, I'd never get out of bed in the morning!
I also have a few bad thoughts during takeoff, but they usually go away after a few hundred feet up. I worry alot about busting airspace, or messing something on an instrument flight plan (well, if I pass my checkride on Friday).
I did my Commercial long cross country to Kalispell Montana to skydive at the Lost Prarie Boogie. Everytime I would jump I would think about possibly breaking a leg or ankle on landing and if I did that, who would fly the plane home.

I ended up only jumping six times and leaving 2 days early.