Every single aircraft in flight right now has a person on board that’s known as the “pilot in command.” Whether the aircraft is carrying one person or one hundred, there is a single pilot in command for each and every flight. This person is responsible for the airplane, and the passengers, and the safety of those on the ground. The Federal Aviation Regulations describe their role as follows:
The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
Pretty basic, and also very clear. The PIC is responsible for, has authority over, the aircraft. Period. No questions asked.
Bad flight schools teach students to fly an airplane. Great flight schools teach students to be responsible PIC’s. And there’s a huge difference.
Being a PIC isn’t about knowing how to land the plane or turn the plane or navigate or keep the shiny side up in the clouds. Those are skills, but they aren’t PIC duties.
Being the PIC is about responsibility, it’s about authority, and it’s about being the person with which the buck always stops.
When the engine quits, or the weather deteriorates, or a passenger gets sick, stick and rudder skills aren’t what will save the day. Sure, they’re important. But the most important element of surviving an emergency is being calm, cool, collected, and reasoned.
But more than that, a good PIC is always taking responsibility for their actions and the outcome of the flight. They evaluate their decisions before, during and after they have been made. They constantly evaluate their behavior, and determine to do better the next time.
Our world needs more pilots in command, not of airplanes, but of lives. So often in modern culture, we like to blame someone else. “It’s the economy” or “it’s the government” or “it’s the corporations” or “it’s my situation in life.” But these are excuses. And excuses have no place in the cockpit or in the mind of pilots in command.
Are you the PIC of your own life? Do you take responsibility for your actions? Do you evaluate them and decide where you can do better next time? Do you accept the consequences of your choices, good and bad? Are you “directly responsible for, and the final authority as to, the operation of” your own life?