All I Really Need To Know I Learned From Flying Airplanes

Here’s an awesome poem by AOPA Av8rs member Laura Wilson as her first assignment in her 8th Grade Language Arts class this year:

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned from flying airplanes. Wisdom did not settle itself among the land-bound beings but instead swerved in and out of the clouds above. These are the things I learned:

  • Follow what ground control tells you to do.
  • Check, check, check, and check everything before takeoff.
  • Make sure people know you’re coming before you start your propeller.
  • Keep your path true.
  • Watch out for other airplanes.
  • Know the weather you’re flying into.
  • Look out ahead of you. – Don’t keep your head down in the instruments.
  • Trust your copilot.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Steer.
  • Always take your gas from your fullest tank.
  • Learn something new every time you fly, whether it is from your perfect turns or stalls. Celebrate lift and thrust.
  • Though weight and drag may seem annoying, they are important too.
  • When your airplane breaks, you need to fix it.
  • To fly, you have to pull up your landing gear.
  • Watch your pitch. – A dive too steep could cause you to crash, but an ascent too vertical will make you stall.
  • Sometimes people crash, whether they are a beginner, expert, commercial pilot, or acrobat. The important thing is to get back up and try again.
  • And remember the first skill you learned – the most important one of all – hold straight and level.

Take any one of these lessons and float it back to earth – into the homes, schools, workplaces, and capitals; it will still hold true. Think what a better world it would be if we all celebrated the lifts and thrusts, but realized the weights and drags are important too. And think how much happier we could make ourselves if we followed ground control and took our gas from our fullest tank.

And it is still true, for all the good or bad, experienced or inexperienced, novice or acrobat, that to fly, you need to pull up your landing gear and take a chance.