By the Seat of Your Pants

There is a saying that comes out of the field of Aviation: “Flying by the seat of your pants.” It seems there are present-day lessons to be learned if we give some thought to that quote and the circumstances it suggests.

Once upon a time a pilot could takeoff when and where he wanted, and fly from here to there and back to here by another way home. The rules were being made, and facts about flying – knowledge, if you will – often came at the expense of a young barn-storming pilot’s life.

The knowledge gained as a result of early mistakes usually became the basis for useful new rules that were intended to make the situation better and safer. Researchers, who studied the details of early successes and failures, could determine the probable consequences of an airborne action if attempted again. Their input gave future pilots an opportunity to make wise decisions when dealing with a problem during flight.

Today, when pilots take off, somebody wants to know where they are going and when they expect to arrive. Today’s pilots need permission to takeoff, follow a book full of rules while in the air, usually travel on designated “highways”  along with and in cooperation with everyone else, and have a personal responsibility to act in a way that ensures safety for everyone.

What is the result? Everyone, in the air and on the ground, is safer today than in yesteryear. Fewer die an untimely death. The young, the old, people in a hurry, and those taking it slow, all live longer.

How many lives could be saved today, how many families feel safer, if we could all just recognize and apply to our current medical situation what aviation has done? As we hurry to get back to normal living, doesn’t it seem important that we accept knowledge-based data which will keep us safe? Even if we don’t like the rules, when it comes to moving forward from this corona pandemic, could we please not “Fly by the seat of our pants?”

About flyingwithrick

Rick Iekel, a storyteller, has held a lifelong fascination with real stories about real people in real places. “With real-life stories so available,” he muses, “why would I make the effort to create believable fiction?”
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4 Responses to By the Seat of Your Pants

  1. In principle I agree. As an engineer (at least by training), I will always favor making informed decisions. Unfortunately, life rarely provides all the data you want. Such is the case in our current situation. We have imperfect data and to be honest there’s no way to know what the best answer is until quite some time after the decision. Going too early may result in more deaths (covid exposure before a vaccine), but the same is true of going too late (delayed medical screenings, mental health, etc.). That’s just the health side. The economic arguments cut both ways as well. Based on my view, I’d lean toward a quicker opening (with safeguards for the most vulnerable), but it’s a close call.


  2. Well said. These are tricky times. Flying by the seat of your pants may mean different things – different levels of precaution – to different people. I just hope that, as we step away from our enforced confinement, we all respect the the needs and concerns of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gail says:

    As the old song goes we have to “straighten up and fly right”. It’s an old song by Nat King Cole. He was a black entertainer respected by all races. Once we can come out into the community again I pray we can be socialize again with ALL peoples regardless of race, color or creed!

    Liked by 1 person

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