It was a bit more than a year ago, Jan. 15, 2009, when Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles made a dramatic controlled landing onto the Hudson River after US Airways 1549 struck a flock of Canadian geese. Sullenberger and his crew methodically reacted with exact precision to each element of the crisis that engulfed them, saving all 155 passengers aboard. With a less skilled pilot, this could have been a horrific tragedy. What type of person, background and training produce a pilot with Sully’s level of accomplishment?
That’s the question posed by Jane Gardner Birch, author of “They Flew Proud,” which tells the story of the national Civilian Pilot Training Program and her father, Gardner Birch, who was an instructor. She asked six noted instructors, pilots and industry leaders what makes a great pilot? One of those interviewed was Brian Robbins, a Master Flight Instructor who was voted FAA Eastern Region Flight Instructor for 2007, who said:
“Thinking about what makes an expert pilot, I believe the first trait is one’s ability to maintain beginners mind. Beginners mind is having an open mind to life experiences and the ability recognize and use these experiences in the future. You may know someone who seems to know all there is to know about aviation. However, if they do not posses beginners mind, then to me they are knowledgeable but not an expert. I have always said when I think I know it all, I’ll stop flying because at this point my attitude will not be that which I consider safe to act as pilot in command.”
Read her full story here.