April 2000 Issue

Think Twice

Your mental attitude may make you a worse pilot than you think you are

My first and only accident is a good example of how psychological factors affect piloting decisions. I was 17, inexperienced and anxious to try out a new set of wings. I had little money, so my primary radio was a used unit of doubtful reliability. In fact, it had malfunctioned on the ground several times, and I was unsure how it would do in the air.

Everything worked well until I got into a steep turn. In most planes, a radio malfunction will not lead directly to a crash. But in a radio-controlled model aircraft, you can guess the result.

Despite what you might think, the cause of this crash was not faulty equipment it was pilot error. I made a bad decision to fly with deficient e...

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