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  • Mattie Bohanan

Becoming Life's PIC

One of the biggest things I reiterate to my students is to start executing pilot-in-command (PIC) thinking and decision making. It is so easy to become reliant on your instructor telling you what to do and reassuring you about every monotonous detail, like what altitude to climb to or what area to depart to for maneuvering practice. This is particularly true for students starting their Commercial training after finishing up their Instrument Rating. After all, under foggles, you are subject to your instructor’s air traffic control directions.

I took this picture while flying last week, admiring the sunset. Unfortunately, not every flight is as picturesque. Perhaps it's a low IFR day, and you can't see outside until you are 200' above the ground. When this happens, though, we as pilots still manage to successfully navigate. At times, life can be a lot like navigating through that low IFR day.

I know firsthand how hard it can be to transition into the PIC mindset. I, too, was hesitant to execute PIC decision-making skills when I knew my flight instructor, someone with more experience and more authority, was sitting right next to me. In fact, my multi-instructor had a serious conversation with me about acting like a PIC in the flights leading up to my check ride.

Sure, I knew how to be PIC when I was by myself and when I was with others who had no flight experience. But that was easy. What tests your skills as a pilot is how you can make those decisions when flying with others who are of the same experience or more.

Earlier on in my private training, I also constantly was reminding myself to be in command. Less of executing PIC skills but more so regarding how I was flying. I would constantly remind myself to fly the airplane rather than letting the airplane fly me. If the airplane is deviating from a course, heading, altitude, I needed to fix it and keep it there. I didn’t need to just accept that it’s doing anything other than what I wanted it to do.

Both lessons, flying the airplane and being PIC, can be translated into real life.

Life is kind of like unpredicted weather, turbulence, unexpected IMC- you name it. But when those things happen, you still fly your airplane through it and be the best PIC that you can be.

Translating these PIC skills to real-life can be hard. It’s easy to be a passenger in the consistently changing seasons of life. But those same seemingly undesirable situations that we have to navigate can become our next best opportunity if we become our own PIC.

We can become our own best advocate when we become PIC of life, and we can help pave a pathway for others who are learning to become their own PIC, too.

Mattie is a CFI/CFII and a Graduate Research Assistant at Auburn University, where she is pursuing an M.Ed. in Adult Education. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

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