Error Syndrome 1, The Beginner Syndrome

Through the career as an aviator we are always error prone. However, the type of errors changes through the career cycle. There is 3 basic syndromes: 1. The Beginner Syndrome, 2. The Intermediate Syndrome, 3. The Advanced Syndrome.

The Beginner Syndrome (1) is fairly obvious and is basically that the aviator does not have the knowledge and/or skills to perform the flying safely. This might be due to lack of theoretical knowledge or skills, to perform safely at a particular level. I am deliberately not mentioning experience as a parameter as experience is not necessarily a measure of proper capability. I have too often seen that pilots have experienced that things goes well albeit they are operating in an environment which is to advanced for the level they are at. The proverb «There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots» is simply wrong, as too many pilots survive in spite of their ignorance and capability.

The first beginner´s syndrome in aviation history is the myth about Icarus, who in spite of warnings from his father Daedalus, flew too close to the sun, the wax which held the wings together melted and he plunged to the ground. This ancient myth are hundreds of years older than the first flight. It is sad we did not learn from it.

The second warning about the syndrome was Leonardo DaVinci´s apprentice who secretly tried to fly Leonardo´s aircraft from a tower, by jumping into the air without forward speed. He hence plunged to the ground and we learned that proper airspeed is a must for a successful take-off. We are not sure if this actually happened or if it was our second warning.

The third warning however was as real as it was lethal. The great pioneer Otto Lilienthal, who build an artificial hill with a hangar built into it, flew his glider several times until a gust of wind lead to a stall and a lethal crash. The story tells that his last word to his sons who ran down to the crashed aircraft and lifted it of their father, was: «The miracle has begun, continue!» – Shouldn’t we honor the ancient knowledge and his sacrifice by not do the beginners mistakes?

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