#16 Humility

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The Tailwheeler’s Journal #16
During World War 2 a young fighter pilot shot down two Bf 109’s. Upon landing his P51 he was immediately surrounded by his squadron mates who effusively congratulated him on his twin victories.
“Gee, fellas, I don’t know why you’re congratulating me”, the young pilot demurred. “I was just clearing my guns when those two guys flew in front of me.”
This anecdote has always delighted me and I’ve shared it with many of my friends. To me it demonstrates a great example of humility on the part of a talented pilot. I’ve always placed great value on this trait.
I think it’s important for all of us to have an accurate self concept and to know at what level our flying ability lies. If we are accurate in our self-assessment, we’ll know where we need to improve and we’ll practice those maneuvers in order to improve. We’ll also have the satisfaction of being aware of our competence in other areas.
I recently received an email from a young pilot I’d helped to train. He expressed his delight in how well he was performing his present flying job. At his stage, it was understandable and it was fun to read of his relatively newfound pride in his ability. It was a healthy proclamation and it wasn’t broadcast in order to convince everyone of his skill. There are others who never pass up an opportunity to tell of their flying skill. They really bother me and represent a segment of the pilot population that doesn’t represent us well.
If you say you’re good, some will believe you. Many will consider you a braggart.
If you never say you’re good, many will assume you are. None will consider you a braggart.
When you are humble, your ego will never stand in the way of your learning.
It’s occurred to me that the vast majority of fliers who come to me for instruction are those who have a generous dollop of humility in their makeup. It makes them great learners; it makes me a very lucky teacher.
Happy Swooping!