ATTITUDE - APTITUDE - ALTITUDE; choosing a flight path in life. Targeting, goal-setting and 'success' are very much part of the 21st Century social philosophy. In particular areas of our lives, most of us have a desire to do well - we want to 'succeed'. What this really means differs with each different person, but it is a common drive. The North American version emphasises being a 'winner' and the usual measuring device involves dollars, and the material goods that money can buy. Other communities have their own versions of 'social success'.
Irrespective of a person's goals or philosophies there are common elements that heighten a person's ability to achieve.
When I first visited an international airport I was stunned to see how steeply the international passenger jets climb when they first leave the ground. After gaining maximum speed on the runway, it seems that the pilots immediately put them into maximum climb under full throttle. I later learned that these planes burn a huge percentage of their fuel in the first few minutes of flight, climbing as rapidly as possible to gain as much altitude as possible, so that they can then level out and cruise at their chosen altitude - 'cruising' at high altitude apparently being an economic way to travel vast distances, particularly with a lightened payload now that the bulk of their fuel has been burned.
Later, when I had the chance to take the controls of a small four seater plane my pilot coach explained that when my nose - or rather the nose of the plane - was pointed up, I was gaining altitude. He then further explained that to gain altitude I, or the plane, had to have a positive attitude, and that this was an absolute requirement on leaving the runway. Altitude must be gained immediately as a safety requirement, so that if something went wrong I had more thinking and praying time before reconnecting with terra (very) firma.
And so I learned that when flying small planes, attitude has a big impact on altitude; when a plane is flying at a constant level, the pilot could say that he is maintaining a neutral attitude, (which could be described as 'just cruising') and the nose of the plane is pointing level, neither up nor down. However when the plane is gaining height, the nose of the plane is up, and the plane is said to have a positive attitude and is climbing. When the nose is down and the plane is descending, it has a negative attitude, and may be coming in to land.
Typically a pilot would be very careful to avoid a negative attitude unless a welcoming airport was in near proximity.
So in my first flying lesson I learned that the 'attitude' of the plane is chosen by the pilot as a deliberate mechanism to achieve the desired outcome in terms of the plane's altitude. If he wants to increase altitude, to fly at a higher level for some reason, he adopts a positive attitude, applies appropriate throttle, and hopefully climbs to higher altitude. However, to achieve higher altitude the engine must be worked harder and more fuel will be burnt. Small planes have small motors, and small fuel tanks and so have a correspondingly small aptitude in terms of how high and how far they can fly. In general terms the bigger the plane the bigger the motors, the bigger the fuel tanks, and the bigger the flying range - and the higher the altitude at which they can fly.
However, before flying each pilot is required to submit a flight plan, an outline of where and how he is going to fly. He is required to plan his flight, then to fly his plan. This flight plan however will be specifically limited by the capacity - the aptitude - of the plane he is flying. It will include information about the weight to be carried, the distance to be flown, the amount of fuel carried and the altitude he proposes to fly at. Each pilot is required to understand the aptitude of the plane he is flying, and to plan his flight according to, or at least within the limits of, the aptitude of the plane.
I never did get my pilot's licence, because being colour blind I couldn't tell the difference between the wind-sock (bright orange) and the grass of the landing strip. However I did get a very valuable lesson in terms of attitude, aptitude and altitude, and individual flight-plans when dealing with a wide range of ventures in my life. Training and qualifications, career plans, relationships, notions of personal 'success', sports involvement and other areas of life can all be likened to flying. How high do we want to go in terms of our performance? What costs might this have in terms of losing ground-level
perspective? How quickly do we want to achieve our desired level? How much fuel are we prepared to burn to achieve this, and once there, how long is that flight before we take a break and consider another leg in our life journey?
Attitude, aptitude and altitude - but the most important of these is attitude. Where your flight-plan represents your intention, your attitude is the factor that will create your actual outcome - and this is simply a personal decision. Laughton 13.1.14