In a recent conversation with a reader who was getting ready to finish “The Devil Dragon Pilot”, I was asked about decision-making in the cockpit. She asked me about how pilots know what to do and when, during a flight. My answer? It depends. As she read in the book, it also depended for both Ford Stevens and Wu Lee, too.
Ford Stevens, the main character in “The Devil Dragon”, follows the aeronautical decision-making process, known formally as ADM. It is decision-making in a very matchless environment, except for perhaps medicine and spaceflight. It is an organized and efficient set of steps of practice used by pilots to consistently control the best course of action. A pilot’s decision will be based upon the situation on the ground or in the air, and the information a pilot has at the time.
Consider all the items a pilot must think about: altitude, fuel, navigation, air traffic, radio calls, birds, weather, passengers and cargo, enemy fire, system malfunctions…the list goes on. While some is very systematic and checklist oriented and dictated by FAA policy and aviation law, other situations require solid judgment.
What is great about this mysterious ADM is that you can learn it. Time has demonstrated in the industry that you can learn to improve your decision-making through experience and critical thinking. The ADM process takes pilots through the decision-making in the cockpit and layouts out the steps to success:
These steps are known to pilots for good decision-making:
- Identifying your personal attitudes hazardous to safe flight
- Learning behavior modification techniques
- Learning how to recognize and cope with stress
- Developing risk assessment skills
- Using all resources available
- Evaluating the effectiveness of one’s ADM skills.
As you read “The Devil Dragon Pilot”, I think you will see the pilots going through these steps verbally. In many scenes, I have written them into the characters as they are thinking and talking to themselves. If you look closely in the book, ADM is alive and well.