We pilots are usually very confident people. In fact you might say we are “blessed with fine self-images.” And you wouldn’t want it any other way. After all, if you are a passenger, you want your pilot to be confident.
But there is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence that can too easily be crossed. Insurance company representatives are often forced to make a decision—is this client merely confident, or overconfident? There is actually a pretty easy way to tell the difference. The overconfident pilot is a know-it-all. They can’t be told anything. They are the ones who most vigorously resist a training requirement for a new aircraft. Guess what. They are the very pilots with the highest accident rates. They aren’t necessarily fool-hardy risk-takers. They just think they are exempt. So they fail to proactively identify and manage the risks of flight.
Sometimes you wonder if you can see the results of overconfidence in the quotes from the aftermath of a fatal accident. “He was such a wonderful pilot.” You have to ask, did they actually have an opportunity to evaluate his flying skills, or did everyone think he was a wonderful pilot because he displayed such supreme confidence around the airport?
The truly best pilots are the ones who know that they don’t know everything and are continually learning. If you’ve been out of the habit of learning about flying, now is the time to get re-engaged in learning. It will put new excitement in your flying and make you a more aware and safer pilot.