He had no idea.
If you are a student going through military fast jet flying training and the instructors won’t fly with you then that’s it, you fail - it really is that simple.
‘I’m not going to fly the test for you, you are good enough to pass this course but you just need to believe that you are!’ I shouted at him.
It was the first time I had raised my voice in over 5 years of teaching fast jet pilots.
‘I don’t want to see you for the rest of the day. Don’t go to the gym, don’t go home and play Xbox - I want you to go and think of 5 honest reasons why you shouldn’t fly a front-line military aircraft. Tomorrow we’ll fly the trip again. You will pass it when you finally believe in yourself and not a second before.’
He wasn’t a bad student and he’d had a good flying course. He’d made some early mistakes and had flown a few trips again but his performance wasn’t out of the ordinary. He was just having trouble completing the last couple of sorties - it was quite common.
But often an instructor will get upset with a student. Sometimes a student will be uncharacteristically underperforming and this can be due to problems at home, a bad nights sleep or an indifferent approach to their training.
The first two we can deal with but the third just gets us irritated and instructors don’t get upset easily, we are some chilled out dudes.
I once had a student try and fly me into another aircraft when he was late joining into formation as we entered cloud.
A student who pulled so aggressively to avoid some birds, that he overstressed the aircraft and caused me neck pain that lasted a whole year.
Another who almost ejected himself just as we were landing because he thought we were going to hit the runway too hard.
Was I angry at any of these students? No, not at all.
It’s just what baby pilots do and was what I did when I went through the ‘learning to fly’ process. It’s part and parcel of being a flying instructor and each one of these events added to both of our learning experiences; the events would eventually make both of us better pilots.
But, whenever one of my instructors had worked himself up into a whirlwind of rage it was because the student has been directly responsible for his poor performance - not through a lack of ability, but a lack of application.
‘It’s almost as if they are doing everything in their power to fail the course.’ my instructors would tell me.
‘You are correct.’ I would reply, ‘They are and it’s called self-sabotage.’