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Tolik, if I believed your post I’d just give up, not bother going to the range anymore because I once learned to shoot (just as one example of training), etc. But there’s a problem in what you wrote – actually two. One is that it dismisses the fact that the Marine came back – alive. He didn’t get up and run (and become “fine red mist”). OK, he was scared. So what? And OK, he didn’t have enough ammunition – but he at least used what he had, or he wouldn’t have even had the perception of “not enough.” Yep – can’t always plan for EVERYTHING. But something about his other, unmentioned reactions somehow resulted in him coming back alive anyway. I just don’t see how that was even worth using as a counter to the recommendation to never stop training. No, we cannot train for every conceivable circumstance – but we can at least stay current on what we know, and practice it over and over until it’s no longer just rote practice, but part of our real understanding. And then integration of seemingly unrelated pieces of knowledge begins to occur.

The second problem is that even if I believe that story about the Marine disproves the doctrine of regular and frequent practice, I’ve got my own personally experienced, verifiable circumstances in which I absolutely know I’m still alive BECAUSE of training, and reacting correctly. Did I make mistakes? You bet. But I made enough right REACTIONS (not carefully thought through decisions – because there WAS no time to carefully think them through) to result in getting out of situations that were literally life threatening as a pilot (one in particular in which my student and I SHOULD have died). And years later in a driving-related situation in which death or far more serious injury was a high likelihood, four of us walked away (one with a broken foot, and one with a serious shoulder injury) from the ER that night – all injured, but all alive. It was one of those rare “slow motion” experiences that seem to occur in extreme emergency-type situations. Literally, something from years as an instructor pilot and classroom instructor came to me in that fraction of a second requiring decision making, that changed how I reacted to the situation and likely saved our lives. And I also recall an instance at the very end of pilot training during my 2-ship formation check ride when I was presented a situation by the other aircraft’s pilot (a classmate) that was seemingly impossible to overcome without failing the check ride. The check pilot was astounded that I pulled off what I pulled off, and said he did not think I could possibly recover from what I was able to pull off. Why? Training, training, training – and the sudden “voice” of my own instructor in my head that recited a critical fact that saved a passing grade, and got me the admiration of an experienced check pilot. I clearly had a massive amount of “luck” in pulling it off, too, but it simply was impossible without the previous drill, drill, drill, day in, and day out, for the previous year in pilot training.

I stand on what I said. Your statement, “Training may help,” is a very watered down version of reality, and the rest of the sentence is nonsensical. “Training is no match for human nature?” What the heck does that even mean?!? Training doesn’t guarantee success, because yes, there will always be the possibility of circumstances where one’s “luck” will run out, and/or training just didn’t cover enough for the mind to be able to synthesize new approaches from pieces of seemingly unrelated knowledge in the midst of an emergency situation. Sorry, but I’ve seen it too many times. And it’s the main reason I do not fly today – I cannot afford to fly often enough, and with good enough instructors from time to time, to keep my skills at what I consider an acceptable “safe” level. Imagine that I was once well qualified in flying an Airbus 320 (I wasn’t), and happened to be a passenger on the ill-fated Hudson River flight flown by Chesley Sullenberger. But imagine that somehow he and his co-pilot were both incapacitated at the moment of the birdstrike. Imagine too that a flight attendant just happened to be sitting in the cockpit at that moment, came running out asking if anyone knew how to fly that aircraft, and I jumped up and into the left seat within seconds – after not flying for 20 years. Don’t think for a moment that I could have pulled off what Captain Sullenberger pulled off – even if I was still current in some other type of aircraft.

Training AND practice are essential to success – without them, one merely has “luck” to rely on. Sure, there will be instances in which it still isn’t enough. But from your post, it would seem that we should just not be bothered with training and ongoing regular and frequent practice because we might get hit with circumstances where we simply cannot come up with the quick-enough, or right-enough solution. Yep – might happen. I just prefer to keep the odds in my favor.