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The Automatic Eliminator

Posted by on October 15, 2009 1 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags :

“Safe to Solo – What every young aviator should know” by Frederick M. Reeder and Robert C. Osborn.  This was published by Harper and Brothers in 1947 (now HarperCollins) but I dare you to find anything in the following paragraphs that isn’t true today.  If you read nothing else on this entire site, please read and think about the following paragraphs.  Your life may depend on it:

Aviation is safe.  It is also safer for some than for others.  The papers say that foolproof planes have been invented and soon everyone will take to the air.  Doubtless this is so, and in the not too distant  future everyone will fly, especially that fool who is going to disprove the foolproof airplane.  Flying is much safer today than it was even a few years ago, and it will become safer and safer as time passes.  However, airplanes are still machines and no one has successfully trained one to think yet.  That is supposed to be where the pilot comes in. If he doesn’t think or is unable to, he is a bad risk regardless of how smart his plane is.


It would be nice if we could tell you that aviation has now reached the point where it is so completely safe that there are no accidents, that you don’t even have to consider safety because that has all been worked out for you by someone else.  However, that is not the story and it never will be.  You must become safety-conscious.  Not so much that you worry yourself or go around tense with fear that something awful is going to happen.  It won’t if you learn to take proper precautions and can think.  You probably have noticed that the word “dangerous” appears frequently in this book, that there are many cautions and warnings regarding safety.  All of these have been derived from personal experience or that of close friends.  When you come across those portions, it will be a good idea for you to keep the subject matter in mind and review it from time to time until you understand it.

…We used to speak of the “Automatic Eliminator” which got rid of the poor pilots.  Not those who were slow learning; those who shouldn’t be flying at all.  Perhaps the foolproof plane will help them some, but the “flying fool” is a dangerous breed and should be avoided like the plague.


Remember that about 80 percent of all aviation accidents are caused by pilot error.  Sometimes accidents can’t be avoided.  However, if you are alert and understand what you are doing, you can probably avoid them entirely.  If you go around showing off in your plane, your chances of having an aviation accident increased immeasurably – leave it alone.

Please, fly safe.

1 Comment

  1. Best of the Web — Golf Hotel Whiskey on Oct 18, 2009

    […] Flying Fool. On a different note, Paul Tocknell has recently posted on his Ask a Flight Instructor blog a long excerpt from “Safe to Solo – What every young aviator should know” by Frederick M. […]

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