Although, occasionally they aren’t happy dreams. Fairly often I’ll have a nightmare about flying an airplane that causes me to wake up very happy to have only been flying a bed for 8 hours.
I think most people would assume these nightmares are about engine fires, thunderstorms, mechanical failures, and just crashing in general. But turns out, none of these enter into my nightmares.
In my flying nightmares, I usually don’t crash. I normally end up landing the plane just fine and everybody walks away without even knowing there was anything out of the ordinary about the flight.
This is what my flying nightmares include:
I make bad decisions. Every pilot secretly wants to buzz through a canyon or a crowded skyline… low and fast, impressing everyone on the ground. In my dreams, every time I do this, I realize how stupid I am to be in the situation and desperately want my altitude back. I want to be far from the ground. I have action movie sequences of heading towards a canyon wall and just not having enough power to pull up at a safe rate and barely missing. Same goes for power lines that sneak up (hard to see) and even flocks of birds that surprise you. If I wouldn’t have decided to fly low, I wouldn’t be in that situation. It’s the worst feeling possible.
I include others. The worst part of these bad decisions dreams are the stress that is on me knowing I’ve put my family or friends in the plane with me.
I get behind the curve. This is when things are happening faster than I’m prepared for them to happen. Predictable, rehearsed, and controlled is the way to fly an airplane and survive. It’s the worst for a pilot. You cannot get “behind the airplane,” or it will punish you.
I didn’t prepare. In the most recent nightmare (last night, per the trigger of this post), we had decided that piling in the whole family and some friends in the plane to go somewhere fun was a good idea. Turns out we were terribly overweight and I hadn’t run the most simple weight and balance calculation that every pilot knows is a big DUH! I was thus, commanding a plane full of people that weighed more than the poor engine and airframe could pull into the air. The fictional event was survived, but so stupid it left me stressed out when I woke up.
The entrepreneurial metaphor: sometimes the things to be afraid of aren’t what you think or expect. The dangers certainly aren’t usually spectacular. The things to fear most are the little things that you already know. Preparation and self awareness are the best avoidance strategies for these dangers.