On a bouncy Spring morning, cotton-ball clouds topped the mountains edging our valley. The glistening Snake River cut through rich green, and brown fields that tipped and turned below. Mesmerized, I thought it almost too beautiful to waste on work. Better a dreary day, overcast and gray to focus on the business at hand.
I worked my flight student hard. “Climb and maintain 5,000 feet,” I commanded, mimicking Air Traffic Control. “Turn right to [a] heading [of] 340 [degrees]. Report reaching PARMO intersection.” He repeated the instructions and maneuvered the airplane.
In a few minutes, he accurately reported his position, “Cessna 25 Echo [is at] PARMO intersection, level [at] 5,000 feet.”
I answered, “Cessna 25 Echo you are cleared for the Ontario [Oregon airport] GPS Runway 33 Approach. Report [the] runway in sight or initiating missed approach.”
Oblivious to the stunning panorama surrounding us, Simon saw neither blue sky above nor soaring hawk below. No beauty caught his eye, no distraction snagged his attention. He navigated our airplane solely by matching numbers and lines on a chart with those indicated on the flight instruments before him.
His secret resistance to beguiling temptation? Foggles.
Worn like eyeglasses but translucent like frosted glass, foggles allow a view of only the airplane’s control panel. They force the pilot to aviate, navigate, and communicate by reference to instruments alone.
Why forsake the ease of visual flight? The truth is, weather doesn’t always play nice. Clouds, rain, snow, and wind often impede our travel through the air. A pilot must consistently employ professional-level skill to get his or her passengers to their destination safely.
Acquiring that skill demands hours of training. Keeping it requires hours of practice—on good days, clear days, beautiful days. Foggles bar distraction and compel the pilot to focus on what’s most important—flying well on bad days, cloudy days, ugly days.
Simon practiced the procedure. I relished the view. But the contrast of the two reminded me how my life flows easily when I can see my way. The truth is, however, life rarely offers a clear path. Instead, it challenges me with a convoluted gaggle of poor options. “Pick one,” it smirks. “I dare you.”
Of course, that means choosing to practice—even on the good days.Share This: