My father crashed his airplane, yesterday. He’s alive, but seriously injured.
He hit a power line while landing at a small grass field on San Juan Island. We don’t yet know much about the conditions surrounding the accident. It may be a simple matter of pilot error, on par with backing your car into a fire hydrant while trying to park (I’ve done that– twice), or there may have been a sudden downdraft or mechanical failure that contributed to the situation. We don’t yet know.
[New Information: We were wondering how he hit the power lines when he had been told about them. It turns out that there are two sets of transmission lines at that location. He cleared the phone lines and hit the power lines. I bet he saw the phone lines and assumed those were the ones he'd been warned about. Meanwhile he was landing to the South because there was a South wind, and he would have tried to cut it close because the field slopes downward and is not very long.]
But it makes me reflect on what he has often told me about risk-taking. He enjoys taking risks, he often says, but his risks are controlled and calculated. His risk-taking is characterized by plans and backup plans. He is a safety-obsessed pilot.
Part of what he loves about flying is the harsh honesty of it. Aviation is perfectly lawful and just. A pilot who lives well by the laws of flying lives long and happy. A pilot who violates them will not remain a pilot for long. Still, a pilot cannot control every detail, so good pilots fly with humility.
That attitude about flying also permeates his life, and its one of the many gifts I have of him, and my brothers and sisters, also: We are not victims of fate, we are the authors of our lives. Yes, life will be turbulent, at times. We will have our inflight emergencies. But we prepare for them, and we take action to turn bad feelings and bad situations into something positive.
Turn everything positive. Learn from everything that happens. In this way, we are always pilots-in-command, no matter what happens.