Going through initial flight training can be a very rewarding experience but it sure has a lot of ups and downs. You are studying theoretical skills and you are learning motor skills at the same time. Some days feel like you are finally getting the hang of this whole aviation thing, others feel like you are not cut out to do this and will never be a pilot. It has been a long time ago for me personally but I relive it quite frequently when I hear/read from some of you guys on social media who are currently going through the process.
For me personally the most frustrating aviation training I ever went through was learning how to fly vertical reference (leaning out of the door and looking straight down while flying the aircraft) with a long line carrying cargo underneath the helicopter. During initial helicopter training you have no idea what really is going on as you slowly learn step by step how to control and hover a helicopter. Every little progress is its own celebration really, and then finally it all comes together it feels like magic!
Then, way later in your career with plenty of ratings already under your belt, you start learning how to fly the line (if you want to be in the utility helicopter world, that is). But this time you already know how a helicopter works and how to make it do what you need it to do because you have spent many hours perfecting your craft. You also know, in theory, how to fly a line. Yet since you’re leaning outside and looking straight down you just can’t do what you want the helicopter to do because you are essentially learning how to hover and fly all over again, with a different reference, side-picture, body position, a whole new set of motor skills. I found it more frustrating to know what I want to do and not being able to do it than just getting in with little clue of what is about to happen and a CFI helping you through the process …
Chuck’s little speech here reminded me of my flight training days, but the last panel has more to do with the Dunning – Kruger effect in my mind. It is about how the more you know, the less confident you feel. Experts tend to know how much they don’t know and often underestimate their ability while it is easy to be overconfident when you only have a simple idea of how things work in your mind. I have gone through the whole curve myself starting with “I know everything” to “wait! there might be more to this” to “I don’t think I’ll ever get this” to “it’s starting to make sense” with finally arriving at “It’s complicated. Trust me.”
I think the late Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher and mathematician who might have known Chuck personally (or rather Chuck’s grandpa) put it best:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, yet wiser people so full of doubts.”