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From:  (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt,rec.aviation.misc,rec.aviation.student
Subject: Re: Fear (was: Instructor shutting engine off in flight
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 00:13:24 GMT

On Tue, 08 Jul 1997 23:16:08 -0500, "Sydney D. Hoeltzli"
<> wrote:

>Jim Weir wrote:
>> I would never fly with a pilot who has a fear of the machine or his
>> abilities.

Dear Jim:

 	   I think you made a mistake on this one.  You obviously have
never flown hang gliders or you would have learned how to deal with
fear directly.  I think there was one point in my life when I was
addicted to adrenaline.  My blood pressure shot up, I got extremely
alert and I worried a lot about dying just before flying off a 12,000
mountain in Utah or the Owens Valley, or where ever.  That was late in
my flying career too.
	When I was a kid and first started learning to fly I had no
fear.  I just loved going up and flying.   When I was about 20 years
old and had a few hundred hours, all of a sudden I was terrified to
fly.  It seemed to hit me out of nowhere.  You can ask Bob O-Rings
Seals about it.  We had long talks about it.  I bought a Stinson about
that time and the palms of my hands would sweat before I'd go flying.
It was uncontrollable and irrational.  I forced myself to go up no
matter how scared I was because I remembered how wonderful it felt
when I wasn't scared.  I sort of got over my fear by studying and
getting ratings.  I got a commercial, CFI, CFII, multiengine,
Multi-CFI, seaplane, glider, balloon, and finally an ATP.  I was still
scared.  I bought a turbo-210 and that really did it.  I'd be cruising
over California at FL 200 at night just watching those cities go by me
4 miles below.  I'd think about what I'd do if I had a fire and that
the Earth was really about 30 minutes away from me if something
happened.  I'd just sit there and screw my way through the air all
alone and it would work on me.  I'd tell myself, "Jesus Bill you've
got every rating there is to do this, you're well trained, why doesn't
the fear go away."  Bobby O'rings and I had a lot of talks about it.
I'm a big guy and I don't think I ever had enough oxygen.  That
contributed.  I usually plugged in the copilot mask, popped the hose
off and stuck it in my mask to get more O-2.  The times when fear
really worked on me was after sunset or on those times when you sort
of bored through the sky IFR in an embryonic fluid, not really seeing
the ground or the sky, just looking into a gray media and wondering if
you are a part of the Earth or not.  Then in the winter, high in
cirrus at night, you'd always get static electricity phenomenon,
Sparks shooting out of the windshield rivets and a blue arch of light
on the tips of your props.  In clouds if you'd turn on your landing
light it looked like a million stars coming right at you, from the ice
crystals, almost like going warp-9 through the center of the universe.

As time went on and the thousands of hours built up, the fear went
away.  I've got about 6000 hours now and I think the fear sort of went
away at about 2000 hours, except for flying hang-gliders.  I had an
ATP and 5000 hours when I first tried to fly hang-gliders.  I was also
35 years old.  The fear all came back when I did that one.  The
gliders are just so vulnerable to the sky, you are almost a passenger
with little input.  The guys who had never flown anything else loved
it.  To me, it was like being in severe turbulence about 30% of the
time.  Something would happen to you and you just had no control.
Many times, the "Great big hand of the big blue sky," would just pick
me up and throw me insanely into some awkward  condition.  This is
severe turbulence, you know, like when you have NO control.  I loved
hang gliders and I think it was the most spiritual form of flight I
ever experienced.  The risk/benefit ratio was just not there, however,
so after about a year and a couple hundred hours of defying death,
plus a couple crashes, I just simply had to quit.

I think too as you get older the adrenal glands don't put out as much
as they do when you are young.  Doing test flying I get on edge at
times.  I think that's one of the reasons I do it.  Not the only
reason, or even the major reason, but one of the stronger reasons.
It's like combat sometimes.  You know you are alive and you sweat and
solve problems at a mental acuity that is rare in normal life.  I'm 48
years old now and I'm finding that I don't get the thrill out of
things that I did even 10 years ago.  I like a little fear once in
awhile.  If you don't think I had some moments in Jess's RV-6a Vortec
then you don't understand.  Once, early-on, during a full power run
some coolant belched out of the overflow onto one of the headers and
vaporized.  The cockpit filled with white vapor and I thought I was on
fire.  I remember that I calmly killed the fuel pumps, then the power,
then turned the selector switch to off, then I bailed out of the damn

No, fear of flight is something I have dealt with intimately.   I've
loved and feared to fly most of my life.  Flight is not something that
we evolved with on this planet.  It's something that was introduced
just now, geologically speaking.  We are not equipped to be free with
it from millions of years of evolution like the birds.  The only way
we can deal with it is because we have intellect and can talk to
ourselves and find a way through the fear.  Anyone who doesn't feel
fear in flight at times is very unusual.  I say this because I've been
a flight instructor for many years.  We all deal with it differently
and the first few hundred hours are usually pretty fear-free.  As a
student progresses, however, there is fear.  There has to be.  There
is increased experimentation whether that be because they are flying
in IMC for the first few times, or learning aerobatics.  As you
continue to fly you continue to push things a bit.  When you do, there
can be fear of the unknown, like you get yourself into something
you've never seen before and you have to solve it to get your butt
home alive.

Flight is one of the few places where I really feel in control of my
own destiny.  Whether I live or die is totally dependent upon me.
Sometimes that's on a moment to moment basis too, especially in test
flight.   We are all pilots here and a lot of this that I've said, I
would not say to a non-pilot.  They wouldn't understand.  When I go
through a tight one and someone asks if I was afraid, I always say,
"Hell no.  I don't like to think of it as being afraid, I like to
think of it as being critically attentive to every detail!"  That's BS
of course,  you get afraid!

Badwater Bill

From:  (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Fear (was: Instructor shutting engine off in flight
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 13:44:38 GMT

On Wed, 09 Jul 1997 21:35:23 -0500, Dave Stadt <>

>O-Ring Seals wrote:

>> A better match is a profound respect.  I may fear the great white shark,
>> but it does not result in pannic.  Suck it up cool hand, it will be O.K.
>> O-rings
>Give a dictionary a try before you comment.

I don't care what the dictionary says.  I think those definitions are
made up by a bunch of people in the english department that never flew
anything, i.e. old school marms.  If you panic, you die.  Panic is not
a part of the equation but fear is something we all live with in
flight.  If you haven't experienced fear in flight yet, then you
haven't flown enough.


Subject: Re: Fear (was: Instructor shutting engine off in flight
From:  (Badwater Bill)
Date: Jul 11 1997
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt,rec.aviation.misc,rec.aviation.student

On Thu, 10 Jul 1997 05:43:25 GMT, (Jim Weir) wrote:

>I said I wouldn't fly with a PILOT that exhibited those characteristics.  A
>PILOT in my vocabulary is the person responsible for the flight.  If I'm
>the instructor, I'm the pilot.  If I'm a passenger, YOU are the pilot.

This actually reminds me of a funny story.  I used to fly Cessna 206's
in the Grand Canyon when I was young.  I'd put 5 people in it and head
East out of Boulder City Nevada for about 20 minutes to the Canyon.
Our route was to go about 100 miles deep, turn around and start back
1000 below the walls.  When we were about 1/3 the way back we'd drop
down to 2000 feet below the upper cliffs.  At 2/3 the way back we'd
get on the deck at about 50 feet (3000 feet below the top).   The
Canyon is real wide and the turbulence was always worse on top.  So
the second half of the flight would be sort of self-serving to get out
of the big rotors that lived on the upper cliffs when the wind was
blowing 25 to 50 knots on top.

In the  summer, while in the canyon, many times I experienced the most
violent turbulence  I've ever had.  I've seen the wings bend up six
inches on a 206 fully loaded.  No matter what I did or how alert I
was, I had no control over this and it scared the hell out me.  One
thing I never wanted to do is let the passengers know I was scarred
shitless.  As soon as the passengers recognized that I was scarred
they always got sick and many times would projectile-vomit all over
the back of my head.  So......I had a vested interest in keeping them
happy in spite of the fact that we were pushing the ultimate design
loads of the Cessna 206 and doing that about twice a minute.

Early  in this flying endeavor I found myself clutching the wheel with
sweaty hands, teeth gritted and grinding and a cockpit full of the
smell of vomit.  Oh, and BTW when you lose one of them you generally
lose them all.  Just the smell wipes the rest out when it's 115 F in
the cockpit, in violent turbulence with no relief in sight.  So, I got
smart, FAST.  I learned not to show the fear.  I'd always take my
right arm and put it on the back of the copilot seat and sort of tap
my fingers on the back of the seat like I was humming a song in my
mind.  Then I'd ever so slowly turn around with a big smile on my face
and say,  "Is everyone having as good a time as I am?  It's always a
little bumpy in here.  Don't worry about that.  This is actually a
pretty good day as far as that goes."  I might point out something for
them to look at as a distraction, then I'd force myself to turn my
head back around as slowly as I could, sort of looking out the right
windows and smiling at whomever was in the right seat. Then SMASH,
we'd hit the next one.  I'd put both hands on the wheel, make full
aileron deflection and maybe full rudder just to keep it from rolling
over and I'd feel the gnarled twist of my facial muscles and mashing
teeth as I tried to stay alive in the most violent crap you could
imagine.  But, all they saw was the back of my head and the last time
they saw the front of my head, it had a smiling face on it.  I think
too that the tapping of my fingers on the right seat-back had a lot to
do with it.  When they saw that, they probably thought,  "My God, that
crazy-brainless bastard isn't scared, why should I be?  He's so
relaxed he's even humming a song in his vacant head."

It worked !

Yeah!  It was great fun!  I think eating about 10 raw lemons would be
more desirable.  So, when Jim says he doesn't want to fly with a pilot
that shows fear, there are situations where I have to sort of agree
with that.  Ha   Ha!

Badwater Bill

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