James Albright:

We aren’t as smart as we think. I need periodic reminders of that fact, but even then, I seem to fall into the trap again. Fortunately, my biggest mistakes are ancient history. (Yes, I’ll share those with you shortly.)

As a unique demographic, it seems we pilots never run out of ways of to be, well, stupid. I think the best way to learn how to avoid that is to examine the actions of others who clearly did not. It may be worth a laugh — “I would never do that!” — but keep in mind you may be tempted to do something along the same lines. You must always be on guard for the next stupid thing.

There is no shortage of stupid in the pilot pool; it seems to be a phase some of us go through, including me. Luckily, I got my dunce cap in 1981, long before the advent of cellphone cameras and Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) programs. The other advantage that I had was we lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force were expected to be stupid back then. (It was part of our bloodthirsty killer training.) The service, fortunately, grew out of that mindset. But before I start throwing stones from my glass house, let me fess up about my worst. Then we can move on to more recent examples and consider a way of surviving it all.