Does Humility Have a Place in Aviation?
Updated: Aug 19
There’s a notion that you must be confident in aviation, and I agree with this notion fully. I preach to all of my students the importance of being able to say that you are the best pilot that you know and believing it wholeheartedly. I try to practice what I preach. So, while I am confident and can say yes to being the best pilot I know, I also know I am not the “end-all be-all” pilot. I know these statements seem to contradict each other, so hear me out.
Having confidence and answering “yes” to being the best pilot you know is really saying that you are the best pilot that you can be based off of your experiences. I believe that recognizing your limitations is a form of humility, and that this humility is crucial to avoid confidence’s evil twin sister who lurks around the corner - the one that the FAA has named as the “macho” hazardous attitude. There is a fine line between the two, but can humility be the key to avoiding crossing that line? Additionally, does this humility even have a place in aviation?
I have found that when people do admit to not being the “end-all be-all” pilot, it is often interpreted as a lack of confidence. Instead of interpreting that reality check as a lack of confidence though, we need to interpret this realization as being smart.
Just as we encourage others to be confident in their abilities, we need to also remember to encourage others to know their limitations. Confidence is the ability to recognize what you can and can’t do, not just that you can do everything. You can still be a confident pilot and know that you have a lifetime of educational lessons to learn and experience to gain.
Knowing your limitations and experiences that have shaped your abilities as a pilot enables you to exhibit that confidence to the upmost degree. When you get in the airplane after recognizing that you are fully capable of making that flight safely, you know just that – that you are fully capable because you have adhered to your conservative personal minimums.
With this mindset, we can be the generation of pilots that makes confidence synonymous with humility, and we can continue to make aviation an even safer form of transportation than it is today.
Mattie is a CFII at Auburn University, where she recently graduated with a degree in Professional Flight. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Mattie is looking forward to a successful and fulfilling career as a professional pilot whether it be in the business aviation industry or the airline industry.