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Should I Stay or Should I Go? Decision making in Aviation

In the world of aviation, the thrill of flying can often cloud our judgment and lead us to make unsafe decisions. One common phenomenon that pilots face is known as "Get-Thereitis", a condition where the desire to reach a destination becomes the sole focus, often at the expense of safety. In this article, we will explore the importance of making safe decisions, knowing your limits, staying current, and resisting external pressures to ensure a safe and enjoyable flying experience.

VFR flight

  1. Recognizing the Dangers of "Get-Thereitis": "Get-Thereitis" can manifest in different ways, such as pushing through adverse weather conditions, flying when not adequately prepared or trained, or ignoring signs of fatigue or stress. The first step in combating this mindset is to recognize its existence and understand the potential dangers it poses to aviation safety.

  2. Understanding the Importance of Pre-flight Planning: Effective pre-flight planning is crucial in avoiding "Get Thereitis." This involves carefully assessing weather conditions, checking NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen), and thoroughly reviewing the aircraft's maintenance status. By doing so, pilots can make informed decisions about whether it is safe to proceed with the flight or if it would be more prudent to delay or cancel it.

  3. Knowing Your Limits and the Limits of Your Aircraft: A critical aspect of safe decision-making in aviation is understanding your own capabilities as a pilot and the performance limitations of your aircraft. Regular training and self-assessment are essential to maintain proficiency and keep up-to-date with the latest regulations and procedures. Recognizing your personal limits and having the discipline to respect them is vital for a safe flight.

  4. Staying Current and Building Experience: Maintaining currency as a pilot is crucial for safe decision-making. Pilots must regularly fly and practice relevant maneuvers to stay proficient. Engaging in flight reviews, instrument proficiency checks, and recurrent training can provide valuable opportunities to refresh skills and knowledge. Additionally, participating in aviation seminars, workshops, and conferences can enhance your understanding of the ever-evolving aviation landscape.

  5. Managing External Pressures: External pressures can heavily influence decision-making, especially when time constraints, business commitments, or passenger expectations are involved. It is crucial to remember that safety should always be the top priority. Open communication with passengers, explaining the importance of adhering to safety measures and potential delays, can help manage expectations and alleviate pressure.

  6. Utilizing Risk Management Tools: Aviation is inherently risky, but pilots can mitigate these risks by utilizing various tools. Pre-flight risk assessment tools, such as the PAVE (Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment, External pressures) checklist and the IMSAFE (Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, Eating) acronym, can aid in evaluating personal and external factors that may impact flight safety. Additionally, incorporating a personal minimums checklist helps establish defined thresholds for critical factors such as visibility, crosswind, and personal proficiency

  7. Continuous Learning and Self-Reflection: The learning process in aviation never truly ends. Engaging in continual learning through reading aviation literature, attending safety seminars, and participating in pilot forums can provide valuable insights and lessons from fellow aviators. Reflecting on past flights, analyzing decisions, and learning from mistakes are integral parts of personal growth as a pilot.

IMSAFE checklist
IMSAFE checklist


In the aviation world, the mantra "should I stay or should I go?" encapsulates the essential decision-making process that every pilot must undergo. Overcoming "Get Thereitis" requires a commitment to safety, a thorough understanding of personal limits and aircraft capabilities, and a vigilant approach to pre-flight planning and risk management. By prioritizing safety, staying current, and resisting external pressures, pilots can ensure safe and enjoyable flights

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