The Affects of Adrenaline


Countless hours of a pilot’s training and practice are spent learning what to do when an emergency strikes. Hundreds of hours in simulators, power-off landings, upset attitude recovery and engine out procedures are part of our training throughout our careers as pilots. Pilots are so prepared for an emergency situation that when an emergency occurs, our response is a simple matter of muscle memory.

Little is known, taught or understood, however, about what is to be done AFTER you’ve recovered from an in-flight emergency.  You’ll call the tower, mechanic, family, friends, NTSB, FAA and FBO, but the most important call you’ll make is your decision on when to get back in the air. Seasoned air show veterans will tell you that the drive to get the airplane fixed and back in the air is almost consuming, but the need to fight this urge should be a priority.  There is no contract worth getting back in the air for the sake of proving you have ice water in your veins.

Adrenaline will be pumping through your body throughout the entire ordeal, and, much like any other chemical in your bloodstream, it will remain around long after the event.  It can make you feel that you are much more ready to get back in the air than you actually are.  However, a couple of hours later, your body will begin to strongly disagree.  You may ask, “What is the best course of action after an operating emergency?” The best advice would be to take at least one day off to allow your body and mind to return to a much calmer and clearer state of mind. Go find a golf course, watch a movie, get some food and you’ll find that you will be in a much stronger state to fly than jumping back into your airplane as soon as it is operational. The most experienced and battle-hardened veterans will admit that there is nothing more frightening than getting back into the air and feeling the adrenaline wear off.  Take your time; your body and mind will appreciate it immensely.

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The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) is a trade association dedicated to building and sustaining a vibrant air show industry to support its membership. To achieve this goal, ICAS demands its members operate their air show business at only the highest levels of safety, professionalism, and integrity.