The definition of airmanship is going to vary from person to person, but here are some examples I managed to think of - they're not in any order of priority, and it's certainly not an all-inclusive list.
I'd say you've got good airmanship if:
- Your mind is always several minutes ahead of the airplane, and you're constantly planning ahead, trying to manage your workload appropriately so as to give you maximum situational awareness.
- You know the capabilities of your airplane, and you can plan your flight so that you never find yourself needing more out of the airplane than the airplane can realistically give you. At the same time, you also know how to get the most out of your airplane if need be.
- The mechanical act of flying your airplane (either by hand or through the automation) comes so naturally to you that you can do it without expending much mental capacity, leaving plenty of mental capacity free for planning, evaluating, and managing.
- You manage a crew well, maintaining appropriate authority while still making sure that if anyone thinks something is amiss, they'll bring it up without being prompted.
- You treat each flight as an opportunity to learn something that could come in handy on a future flight.
- You can work effectively with minimal resources if necessary, but you don't let that stop you from using as many resources as you can to help you when they're available.
You'll notice that most of these are mindsets rather than physical skills. And I'd agree that some people just naturally fit into those sorts of mindsets better than others. But by the same token, these things can certainly be taught - it's not a "either you have it or you don't" sort of deal. Some people just need to work harder at developing it.
Airmanship also evolves - what's prized these days isn't what was prized forty years ago. In another forty years, everything I listed above might become irrelevant (I don't think all of it will, but it would shock me if some of it didn't).
|Quoting DIJKKIJK (Thread starter):|
I've often wondered whether these are a specific set of traits we have inherited from birds, who are our very distant ancestors.
I'd tend to think not. Birds don't have to worry about cockpit management. They don't have to troubleshoot system malfunctions mid-air. They don't have to worry about complex enroute airspace structures. I'd equate avian traits to be more related to pure flying skills than airmanship. But that's just me.