The effectiveness of ADM and the safety of general aviation depend on several factors:

• The knowledge required to understand the situation, the information available, and the possible options.

• The skills required to execute a decision.

• Understanding how to make decisions effectively, including how to search for information and when to stop searching and choose a course of action.

• The self-awareness to recognize when hazardous attitudes are influencing decisions and possessing the self-discipline to overcome those attitudes.

The first two factors, knowledge and skills, will be addressed during ground and flight training. The knowledge required to understand weather conditions, use of checklists, and other items required for flight planning will be explained. An authorized instructor also teaches how to put preflight planning into action. This starts a pilot on a path toward making good aeronautical decisions based on the limitations of the aircraft, weather conditions, and the pilot's experience level. This also helps a pilot develop a positive attitude toward safety and risk management. Having a positive attitude means always considering the potential safety implications of decisions.

Progressive decision making recognizes that changes are constantly taking place, and that a pilot should be continually assessing the outcome. For example, more weather information allows the pilot to judge the quality of the decision and to recognize when it is time to modify that outcome in the face of new information. A pilot with this progressive decision making strategy may make changes rapidly based on the information at hand. The pilot should continue to seek more information about the situation so the plan may be refined and modified if necessary.

Flexibility and the capability to modify actions as new information is obtained are very desirable features of decision making. What this means, in simplest terms, is always having a way out.

The other factor that was mentioned earlier that would affect the quality and safety of a pilot's decisions is attitude. Attitude is one of those aspects of human nature that is hard to define precisely, but we know it when we see it. It is an overall approach to life. It is something in the way people talk and act that makes us think that they are reckless, safe, liberal, conservative, serious, happy-go-lucky, or any one of a number of other adjectives. They have a certain style of responding to life's events that is relatively consistent and which they tend to apply in many situations.

Think for a moment about the stereotypical image of pilots portrayed in popular films particularly those from several years ago. Films deal in images and an image like that is much easier to portray than the reality. There is a lot of truth to the old adage, "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots." Flying is a wondrous adventure, but it is not the place for boldness, thrill seeking, complacence, or lack of dedication to doing the best one can.

A series of studies conducted a few years ago identified five attitudes among pilots that were particularly hazardous. These attitudes are:

Antiauthority This attitude is found in people who do not like anyone telling them what to do. Flying is governed by many regulations established for the safety of all, so pilots with this hazardous attitude may rebel against authority by deliberately breaking rules intended for safety.

Impulsivity This is the attitude of people who frequently feel the need to do something anything  immediately. They do the first thing that comes to mind, without thinking about what the best alternative might be.

Invulnerability Many people feel that accidents happen to others, but never to them. They know accidents can happen, and they know that anyone can be affected, but they never really feel or believe they will be personally involved. A pilot with this attitude is more likely to take chances and increase risk.

Macho A pilot who is always trying to prove that he or she is better than anyone else is thinking, "I can do it I'll show them." All pilots are equally susceptible to this hazardous attitude which can lead to taking risks to impress others.

Resignation Pilots who think, "What's the use?" do not see themselves as being able to make a great deal of difference in what happens. They blame whatever happens on luck. Instead of seeking out information and making positive decisions, they just drift along making no changes and hoping for the best.

Having these attitudes can contribute to poor pilot judgment, since they tend to push the pilot toward making decisions that involve more risk. Recognizing that these hazardous attitudes exist is the first step in neutralizing them in the decision making process. Before dismissing these attitudes as belonging to someone else, realize that everyone has these attitudes to some degree. At one time or another all pilots have acted impulsively or in a macho fashion to demonstrate their aviation skills to others.

Pilots should be aware of these attitudes and constantly examine their actions to see if they are falling prey to their influences. This helps a pilot improve the quality of his or her actions.

Developing good decision making skills allows pilots to fly securely in the knowledge that they are controlling risk and ensuring safety. Figure 9-1 provides some useful antidotes for hazardous attitudes.

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