Fighter Pilot Philosophy - Why Die All Tensed Up?
WHY DIE ALL TENSED UP?
A reader emailed the following question. ‘I want to know why,
though. Why do we fear something, but think that by fearing it,
we can keep it from happening? Or, is it because we want to be
My Thoughts On This . . .
According to Freud, the first time a person has a trauma, it is
traumatic because it comes ‘out of the blue’, completely
unexpected and no one is prepared for this, having never known
such an awful could even happen. It crushes you. It causes
your whole world to crash. You feel you cannot ever let this
happen again. So you must do something. You must never be
caught by the unexpected. So, you decide you must expect it
when it comes, and since you can never know when that might
be, you must expect it at every moment. You must look ‘to the
blue’ constantly, always expected disaster.
But you realize that simply expecting it, though it braces you
for disaster, doesn’t prevent it. So you try to get scientific, and
think, ’cause and effect.’ Let’s see now. What was going on JUST
before the disaster hit? Maybe what was going on just before the
disaster was the cause of the disaster. Well, I was . . . ‘happy’ . . .
and ‘relaxed’ . . . and thinking life is ‘wonderful’ and . . . ‘nothing
can go wrong.’ That’s it. That’s what caused it. So, I must never
be 100% happy, never be 100% relaxed, never 100% feel life is
wonderful or think anyone is 100% wonderful, and never think
‘nothing can go wrong’ because thinking that CAUSES disaster!!!
So there you are. If you can simple see through this logic, which
was set up years ago when you were a child, and covered over,
then you can understand that what you think and feel does not
influence world events (though some of us still think we can
‘visualize world peace’ and have the illusion that that actually
does something; that is just the reverse of this child-like logic
that we must be on guard at every moment to keep awful things
Under stress, we easily interpret incorrectly. I feel something,
and jump to a conclusion which terrifies me. Now, this is tied
directly to the first……..fearing for a purpose, ……. fearing in
order to stave off bad things…….
Fighter Pilot Philosophy . . .
When I was in in Air Force, they sent us F-100 student pilots
through a short version of the training seen in the movie ‘Top
Gun’. At the training site, the Fighter Weapons School at
Nellis Air Force Base, the most elite of the Air Force pilots
taught ‘Top Gun’ techniques and maneuvers to students like
You would think that the instructor pilots there would be
the most ‘macho’ of all pilots. They weren’t. They were far too
skilled and wise to be that way. And on the bulletin board,
someone has posted, ‘If you are flying an F-86 straight East at
35,000 feet and someone else is flying an F-86 straight West at
35,000 at the exact same point, with each plane flying at 500
MPH, there is a closure rate of 1000 MPH. By the time you see
the other plane (the F-86 was tiny, so it couldn’t be seen very
far away), there is only 0.08 seconds until impact, and your
reaction time is 0.12 seconds, so there is nothing you can do
to avoid a collision. The point is: since there is nothing you
can do, ‘why die all tensed up (by being on edge when you fly
to try to avert a collision)?’
In other words, there are things that can kill us which we can
do nothing about and staying tense does nothing to prevent
those things from happening, and all staying tense does is let
you both live and die all tensed up for nothing.
But we now know that this tension actually shortens ones life
because it causes stress hormones to be released which wreck
the immune system.
But Let’s Get Practical . . .
Having introduced the question of mid-air collision, and the
difficulty of seeing a small plane in time to react, you should
know that since December of 1991, all U.S. airliners were
required to law to have an on-board anti-collision device to
protect against collisions. Now this is installed on foreign
airliners as well, and it works beautifully.