IN LIFE, AS IN FLYING (4)
Use All Available Resources. In the cockpit, we are taught to use all resources available to us. I “got” this lesson the hard way on a flight back from Mexico when I stumbled into a late Winter storm over Tijuana descending into San Diego’s Brown Field. I had done a cursory check of the weather before departing El Fuerte, Sinaloa that morning and noted the cloud deck over San Diego, but assumed it was just the usual marine layer typical of a Winter morning. I thought nothing about it until I started a descent south of Tijuana and noted that the temperature at the cloud tops was 10 degrees lower than the higher altitude at which I had been cruising. A layer of ice that swiftly coated the wind-screen confirmed exactly what my outside air temperature gauge read as I entered the clouds—32 degrees F. The ice was bad enough, but the turbulence started quickly thereafter. The commercial flights on approach to San Diego’s Lindbergh Field were calling it “moderate.” In my little Baron, it felt considerably worse. I switched off the auto-pilot to avoid over-stressing the airframe and instructed my passengers to tighten their seat belts. The turbulence proved so bad, though, that every time I tried to tune a frequency on a radio, my hand flew off the knob, requiring multiple tries to accomplish just that simple task. On top of that, I was hand-flying the aircraft and imploring ATC to give me a lower altitude so I could shed the ice. And all the while, in my right seat sat not a pilot, but a perfectly smart and capable medical student, with nothing more to do than hang onto his seat. He easily could have lent me a hand with the radios, but I had never bothered to teach him how to tune them despite many hours of flying during which I could have done so. I had unwittingly squandered an available cockpit resource by not readying that resource when I had the chance.
We eventually landed at Brown Field free of ice, but the lesson was frozen in my psyche: Never pass up an available resource. In life, as in flying, it’s important to know when to ask for help. Whether it’s a willing friend, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, or a life coach, the right adviser/helper at just the right time can make all the difference. We just need to acknowledge there are resources outside ourselves that can help us through challenging or turbulent times and to not hesitate in drawing on them. Even if 95% of the time we easily navigate life in “single-pilot mode,” there is no shame in tapping other resources for help with the remaining 5%. No one flies solo successfully 100% of the time.