Situational awareness

Originally posted to on October 22, 2014

A dear friend and operator of a top quality flight school posed this question in a lesson. Although he was teaching aspiring pilots, the lesson applies to a host of life situations:

“You are driving down a four-lane highway. There are high curbs on either side of the narrow northbound lanes. You are in the right lane, and there is a motorcycle to your left somewhere in your blind spot. A tandem gravel truck is tailgating you uncomfortably close. Everyone is speeding in the 45 mile per hour zone. Suddenly, a squirrel jumps from the tall curb and scampers into your lane. You must make a split second decision.  What would you do?”

As painful as it might seem, the obvious choice is thump, splat – poor squirrel.

But remember, you had only a fraction of a second to make that decision. There was no time to look around for a better alternative. If you didn’t already know the situation – maybe you’d been distracted by a snack or the phone or GPS – you might react differently:

You might swerve left. Oops. Sorry, biker

Or you could slam on the brakes. Being crushed by thirty tons of gravel will no doubt make the evening news.

Only if you maintain Situational Awareness will you be able to react with the painful, but life-saving response.

Thanks to Skip Goss, president of Skill Aviation at Waukegan Regional Airport.

btw – If the squirrel had situational awareness, it wouldn’t have run onto the highway.

Skip is now General Manager of Waukegan National Airport. Skill Aviation is still a top quality flight training center at the airport.

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