In Blackhawk Down, the dramatized events of the 1993 assault on Mogadishu, US Army Blackhawk Super 61 is struck by an RPG and begins spinning to the surface. As the alarms blare and the helicopter loses altitude, the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Cliff Wolcott, calmly asks his co-pilot, CWO Donovan Briley, to silence the annoying caution lights:
“Hey, Bull, you want to pull those PCLs off-line or what?”
The pilot knew his capabilities; he knew the status of his aircraft. He likely knew he was about to die; yet his voice was calm and procedural, betraying not a hint of emotion.
In perhaps the most widely watched example in recent history, American Airlines pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger calmly told the taken-aback Air Traffic Controllers
“we’re going to be in the Hudson.”
By all accounts, the crew was calm and methodical as it executed its emergency procedures, saving the lives of all on board.
How can pilots be so stoic during life-threatening catastrophes that might bring screams and panic from others? Read more…