John & Anne Wiley

2011/05/11

Fear

I have a little time this morning as we wait for improving weather, we’ve had a minor reassessment this morning, and I got a slightly concerned inquiry. So I’m going to share a little about Fear in case anyone’s interested. If you’re prone to worry or want stuff about adventure and fun, please feel free to skip this post in case it might just distract you from enjoying the normal stream of this blog.

If you’re still reading, I appreciate any concern you may have about our safety because one of the greatest sources of delight for Anne and me is to be cared about. If after reading this you have questions, please email us and share (though it might be a while before we have time to respond).

The reassessment had to do with what we want from this most difficult part of our planned flying adventure: the Canadian Maritime Provinces. It’s difficult because we have to hassle with more expensive and less functional cellphone and internet connections, airports, fuel, and possibly food and accommodations (being colder than here, camping is a less attractive option too). It’s also potentially more dangerous, due to being less populated, some relatively long flights over very cold water, and less favorable weather.

So the fears we talked about this morning are about spending more money per day, possibly waiting for days on the ground hoping weather will clear when it might not, and what are the risks. I tend to look first at the worst case, and work my way back from there. Having read a lot about what we’re about to do, my opinion is that the worst would be a forced landing into trees so I’ve investigated how likely that is and considered means of mitigating the risk.

The chances of a sudden mechanical problem that would leave no option other than landing in trees is quite small. The number of aircraft like ours that have this happen is significantly less than the number of serious car accidents per mile of travel, so the risk is quite small. Among other things, we’ve had Tripp carefully checked before starting this adventure and she’s actually in considerably better shape than when we bought her (partly because we’ve fixed everything and partly because we’re flying so much, and that’s good for her engine). I’ve worked alongside several highly-skilled and experienced aircraft mechanics, and assured myself of her good health while also learning what to watch for so as to avoid problems in flight.

Another safety measure we use when flying in less populated areas with lots of trees or other unfavorable terrain for forced landing, is following major roads. Since we can glide 1.5 miles for every 1,000 feet above ground, following roads doesn’t add much to the time and distance of our flights but it does add options. Obviously we can land on the road itself since traffic is light, but there also tend to be more people around which means help fixing whatever the problem might be and more open fields, etc. to land in.

Flying over water, we climb high enough to glide over land in event of problems. Our longest water crossing on this flight is less than 1/2 hour, our engine is rated for at least 2,000 hours of highly reliable operation, and this adventure will probably tally up to 100 hours or less.

I recall a line in the book Dune something like, “Fear is the mind killer.” How I like to greet fear is by allowing the feeling, which tends to pass in a few seconds. Then, rather than dwell on it and feed it, as mentioned above I go to the worst case and engage my mind in exploring the actual risks.

I hope some of this might have been interesting, informative, or helpful in some way.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow. Very good writing and glad to know you are methodical and carefully emotional.

    Comment by Zubair — 2011/05/11 @ 17:48

    • This is especially welcome feedback coming from a skilled pilot, Zubair. Thanks for your caring. Hope to meet you halfway sometime soon, once you get aircraft access figured out! 🙂

      Comment by John — 2011/05/12 @ 02:48

  2. Anne & John, You are such dear people and give so much to the world by who you are that I personally hate for you to take these kinds of risks. I get to vicariously experience being out in the world through your blog entries and photos.

    I would hate something to happen to you where you would have to be limited to the indoors most of the time – as Mark and I are.

    And I would hate for you to risk your lives and financial well-being any more than you do with each less dangerous adventure.

    It was difficult to read this post. These are things I think about for you. It’s hard to see them in writing coming from you. Blessings in whatever decisions you make right now.
    ~ Carla

    Comment by carla — 2011/05/11 @ 20:09

    • Thanks for sharing your honesty and your caring, dear Carla. My intent with the post was to clarify a little what the risks actually are, and the fact that they’re actually quite minor compared with other things people routinely do. Like driving (especially on motorcycles – I learned first-hand at age 20 how dangerous that is), riding bicycles without helmets, crossing the street, falling in the bathtub (I seem to recall that’s the most common cause of injury/death around the house), fixing the roof (we know someone who died that way), etc…

      In short, lots of people die every day. Some of them haven’t gone on adventures. I’m glad we’ve chosen to do this, and taken care in how we do it. If the extremely unlikely happens for us, hopefully people will remember how incredibly magnificent our experiences have been and that every sort of adventure carries a modicum of risk. Our belief is that the actual risks we’re taking are vastly smaller than most people are able to understand, and that they’re in fact taking larger risks themselves in everyday life without realizing it. This seems to be the way of things. 🙂

      Bottom line though, is that it’s a special delight to be cared about. So again, thank you! 🙂

      Comment by John — 2011/05/12 @ 02:44


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