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Be Careful Out There, Now

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"Be careful out there, now."

I can't begin to explain how irritating I find this phrase. It was said to me twice last week, both times as I was about to set off on my bicycle on the way home from the gym. Both guys who said it to me either knew someone who had been in a crash or had been themselves. Well, so I have I, but it doesn't make me any more or less careful, just a lot savvier about crossing concrete-to-grass sidewalk seams.

As pilots and instructors, we hear this phrase all the time and if you actually say it, make a note to yourself to stop. It has absolutely no meaning in the real world of understanding risk and I suspect people who are risk takers—I plead guilty—either ignore it or bubble over with annoyance. An example of the latter occurred to me the one and only time I remember ever saying: Be careful. I said it to Pete Allum, a world class Brit skydiver I know. He was doing a discipline in skydiving called swooping, which has a rather high casualty rate among amateurs, but professionals pull it off with aplomb. No sooner had the phrase left my fat flapping lips than Pete's brow furrowed and he gave me a snappy comeback I still use myself: "Well, I wasn't going to be, but now that you've reminded it, I will try." I issued an apology in triplicate.

"Be careful" is simply a banal generality; a lazy shorthand excuse for the person saying it to not think through the specific risk factors he thinks he has in mind. If you were launching into low weather, a better nudge, if you're trying to get your hapless subject to show evidence of rational forethought, might be to ask about the proposed flight as though you were considering it yourself. "What kind of alternates do you have today?" or "Any ice in the PIREPS?" That gets the conversation started on a higher plane for I have found it to be universally true that the more sincere and pained the look on the face of the person saying, "be careful," the more clueless that person is about risk.

With regard to risk, I think people sort into As and Bs. The A's tend to view risk as a featureless monolith, while B's see it as textured thing, with spikes here and there that rise above the background field of whatever "risky" activity is being entertained. To an A, all hazards are more or less equal and likely to conjure images of the monthly accident reports we in the aviation press are so fond of writing. B's blow that stuff off and break down the risk at hand into its component parts. They're the guys who look for tops reports and PIREPS when trying to make a go decision against an ice forecast, while for the A, the process is more binary. Ice in the forecast? Trip cancelled.

In the aviation press, we're fond of the term "risk management," but I've increasingly come to believe it's just so much psychobabble. Risk management is just another fancy word for having alternate plans if the first one crumps and for hoping to be lucky if Plan B also flames.

Vacuum pump quits? I got a backup. Electrical failure? I have an essential bus. Cabin fire? Well, I'm probably screwed, but at least I have a fire extinguisher.

When I was intensely involved in instrument instruction 15 years ago, I'd launch into about any kind of weather, so I tended to attract students who wanted not just actual IMC, but challenging actual. We did a lot of this in single-engine airplanes, some with backup gyros, some not. No datalink weather in those days and not a lot of GPS, either. One fine misty morning with a 300-foot overcast, one the airport couch rats, after telling me to be careful, asked me just what I was going do if that single engine quit off the end of the runway. I informed that I intended to crash into the trees in the housing development south of the airport.

I wasn't kidding, either. That is a form of extreme risk management that relies largely on the high probability of things going your way. If they don't, your out may depend on good seatbelts and luck. You either accept that level of risk or you don't. But "being careful" doesn't have a hell of a lot to do with it.

Comments (99)

Wow. I always thought it was a simple expression of caring, not risk management advice. I should be careful. I'll probably need to be reminded from time to time, too...

Posted by: Sam Strohl | February 21, 2011 6:11 AM    Report this comment

Slow news day, huh?

Posted by: Brian Veazey | February 21, 2011 6:29 AM    Report this comment

I don't usually use this phrase, Paul, but "lighten up".

I hear admonishements to be careful usually from my wife, mother, or other loved ones, who yes Paul, don't have a clue as to the specific risks and dangers. It's akin to the Scottish "Go well" It a euphemism for expressing the wish that you return unharmed. It presumes that one is skilled and educated enough to recognized the inherent dangers.

And you know what, Paul? There have a been a few times, in varied endeavors, when I have thought of those exhortations and taken a path of least risk, because I knew someone who loved me cared. Not the opposite, when after the accident, one thinks to himself, why didn't I think about the effect on loved ones ahead of time.

Be careful from another pilot might encompass a whole list of things to watch out for on a particular flight--night, mountains, weather. So coming from my wife might mean a general caution--a verbal white and green light gun signal. If Bob Hoover or Barry Schiff were in the FBO and said that to me--well...I'd thrice check everything and then probably cancel and buy these guys coffee.

Posted by: Claude Wagner | February 21, 2011 6:44 AM    Report this comment

Paul, you might consider what your response is doing to your own stress/frustation level. Having the Type-A gene as well, I learned to respond to the person uttering the latest version of his/her be-careful phrase, "thanks, I'm highly motivated to be careful". Usually it disarms both of us, especially me.

Posted by: Louise Anderson | February 21, 2011 7:01 AM    Report this comment

I like that Brian. "Be careful" is the same as "Take care". Care has a dual meaning in that it could mean look after, be bothered, be concerned, think about etc or it could mean mental issues. Depends on how you take it I suppose. When flying I know that the wing are not going to fall off. If I need to reassure myself that the wings are not going to fall off then I should stop flying. Fear is a deadly force and although many will say nice things like be careful -- take care meaning well I believe they are unwillingly trying to frighten you.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | February 21, 2011 7:06 AM    Report this comment

A little grumpy today? I bet you hate it when people you don't know ask how you are.

Posted by: D Olson | February 21, 2011 7:41 AM    Report this comment

I agree with you Paul particularly whenever I am going to fly. One of my children can't seem to understand that I am way more likely to have a accident on my way to the airport than when I am flying. May be that's why I get so tired of reading about crashes in our trade publications to the point that I quit my subscription to one of them.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 21, 2011 8:12 AM    Report this comment

I agree with you Paul particularly whenever I am going to fly. One of my children can't seem to understand that I am way more likely to have a accident on my way to the airport than when I am flying. May be that's why I get so tired of reading about crashes in our trade publications to the point that I quit my subscription to one of them.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | February 21, 2011 8:13 AM    Report this comment

"Have a nice day!" Well I wasn't planning to, but if you insist, Jerk... "How ya doin'?" What's it to you, buddy...? "Be well!" What makes you think I have any control over that...? "Vaya con Dios!" What are you, some religious nut...? "See you later!" You should be so lucky...

So many expressions of affection and human caring, so little time to shoot them all down...

Posted by: John Johnson | February 21, 2011 8:16 AM    Report this comment

So... how do you feel about "use caution," as in "use caution, birds in vicinity..." or "use caution, following heavy 777."

Posted by: Dylan Cannon | February 21, 2011 8:33 AM    Report this comment

The correct response to such a phrase is "No". That is the only answer that makes a difference. You will be much more aware on your journey (so as to not have to face an "I told you so" if something does happen).

Answering "OK" or "Yes" is pointless.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 21, 2011 8:55 AM    Report this comment

Wow Paul, How ya feelin now?

Posted by: Ray Wyant | February 21, 2011 8:56 AM    Report this comment

Talking about risk management. I believe that is why we have co-pilots in the cockpits. Some years ago the policy was to ensure that pilots and co-pilots could not fly together if they were both Christians (the rapture was the fear then). We seem to have moved on.

The issue in these days is everything is now reduced to risk mitigations. We are after all nanny states (Europe and USA) with health and safety running riot in the work place.

The question is does being nice and friendly constitute a risk factor. Many people say things without meaning or realizing what they did say or the implied meaning. "Good morning how are you?" is an example how many say that without realizing what they just said, they do it to show friendliness or do they? We humans have a great many emotions and there are not enough words in the spoken language to express the exact emotion we wish to express at the time of utterance (that goes for English especially).

Posted by: Bruce Savage | February 21, 2011 8:56 AM    Report this comment

When I was working for a Spanish charter airline at JFK, last words before closing the passenger door was "Have A Good Trip." Something positive. I use "Have a Good Flight" at my local (non-JFK) GA airport.

Posted by: Michael Weidhaas | February 21, 2011 9:10 AM    Report this comment

Fly safe Paul. Hope that dosnt rile you too much.

Posted by: charles heathco | February 21, 2011 9:21 AM    Report this comment

Yeah, this is a hot button of mine too. People don't really care, they just forgot how to say 'hello' or 'goodbye'. Instead some festoon it with 'how ya doon' ('Shitty, but thanks for asking.') or 'be careful' ('Nah, I'll just be myself').

Posted by: Thomas Connor | February 21, 2011 9:23 AM    Report this comment

This is fun. A good rant is cleansing. John Johnson reminds me of someone. George Carlin.

Posted by: David Davis | February 21, 2011 9:42 AM    Report this comment

"Be careful" is a simple reminder to not get cocky and try to be a Bold Pilot.

Posted by: A Richie | February 21, 2011 9:53 AM    Report this comment

Perhaps "Don't get cocky, kid," would be more to the point...

Posted by: Kim Elmore | February 21, 2011 10:34 AM    Report this comment

I agree and hate the phrase.

Posted by: Domenick Marinaro | February 21, 2011 10:47 AM    Report this comment

Being too serious about yourself, Paul... "Lighten up!" - as in "Don't exceed your gross weight!" :-)

Posted by: Andrei Volkov | February 21, 2011 10:54 AM    Report this comment

If the underlying concern of this thread is safety, one needs to define the term. Some organizations have large safety empires that accomplish little and cost much. The U of SoCal has or had a master's degree in system safety. The alleged objective of the program was to reduce the cost of doing business. Doing something dangerous? Buy insurance. Oddly the insurance companies usually mandate some sort of training and proficiency, which in my mind is really what safety babble is about.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | February 21, 2011 11:11 AM    Report this comment

CAP mandates a safety officer (SO) for every event. The SO's objective is identifying risks and 'suggesting' alternatives. A good SO is very proficient at what you are doing and finds specifics you need to be aware of. A bad one is not proficient and spouts that 'safety is paramount' whatever that is. Then there is the sick mind that takes the task gladly knowing they have the power to shut the operation down more safety briefings and navel gazing or for cripes sake, a 'safety down day.' Granted, the guy standing on a full swivel caster mounted office chair to string an antenna might need adult supervision, but punishing the whole class for one joker is usually counterproductive.

My point is most people misuse or don't understand safety to begin with. Risk management gets us closer, sometimes too close. Good advice was: "Never try to do anything that take more than three steps by memory. You'll screw it up." The best salutation I ever got was: "Don't run out of gas, hit anything or fly into weather you can't handle." It pretty well covers the top three stupid pilot tricks and made me think. Paul's suggestion of asking about specifics are even better, but I can imagine a day when we replace "Be careful' with 'is there ice in the pireps?"

Posted by: Thomas Connor | February 21, 2011 11:12 AM    Report this comment

Lighten up, Francis.

Posted by: Eric Basile | February 21, 2011 11:14 AM    Report this comment

Lighten up is on the list, too. What the hell does that mean? If I get any lighter, I'll float away.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 21, 2011 11:22 AM    Report this comment

I here the comment; "Be careful" just as general as ; "Have a good flight or good time" and not as am implied criticism of the pilot's ability, unless he really is a doofus in the air. It is the same as saying to a friend: "Drive safely" when they leave. I I know they are not a good driver I might think to myself: "God, I hope he/she gets hoem safely".

Posted by: David Ellis | February 21, 2011 11:44 AM    Report this comment

A number of years ago there was a very interesting study done on a stretch of highway with well documented data on its rate and severity of accidents. The government decided to put up signs warning people about the accident potential and admonishing drivers to "drive safely". The accident rate for the period both before and after the signs were put up were compared and showed no statistical difference between the number or severity of accidents, indicating in this instance that the signs had no benefit, although they obviously had a cost.

The main danger with putting up signs like that is that it makes the people responsible feel that they "did something" when in fact they just wasted some tax money. I have a guess that cautioning someone to "fly safely" might be the same situation - the person staying on the ground feels they have done something constructive when they may not have accomplished anything at all.

It would be interesting to design a lab experiment where the subjects had to conduct a hazardous series of tasks and have half of the subjects randomly assigned to be warned to "be careful" while the other control group would not be asked to "be careful". You could then compare errors and accidents and see if the instruction to "be careful" affected task behavior or not. I think I can guess what the difference would be.

Posted by: Adam Hunt | February 21, 2011 12:06 PM    Report this comment

I bet I could REALLY annoy you with "good luck", although it sounds as if at times you could probably use it...

Posted by: Mark Consigny | February 21, 2011 12:14 PM    Report this comment

The antidote skydivers often use is...drive fast, take chances. At least it gets a knowing giggle.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 21, 2011 12:43 PM    Report this comment

When people tell my wife to "be careful" she usually dramatically smacks her forehead with the palm of her hand and says something like, "Wow, why didn't I think of that? You just saved my life..."

Posted by: Adam Hunt | February 21, 2011 12:49 PM    Report this comment

Paul,

You are rapidly becoming my favorite aviation curmudgeon. Try adding a little humor to these rants ala "Mike Royko" and really get the smiles going.

Posted by: Ric Lee | February 21, 2011 12:53 PM    Report this comment

I want to know what color Paul turns upon hearing "any traffic in the area, please advise"?

Posted by: Steve Cornelius | February 21, 2011 1:24 PM    Report this comment

Paul, instead of the "be careful" routine, I always liked the routine where the well wisher says, "Have fun, don't die!" to which the departing pilot says, "I will, I won't."

It sorta gets the risks out on the table, assigned and accepted without a lot of bogus emotion.

Posted by: Keith Bumsted | February 21, 2011 1:25 PM    Report this comment

dramatically smacks her forehead with the palm of her hand and says something like, "Wow, why didn't I think of that? You just saved my life..."<<

My kinda girl. Sounds like if she's not actively trying to rid the world of fools, at least she doesn't suffer them. This also has to do with a tolerance to suffer mindless small talk with a smile on your face. (As opposed to say, mindless blogs...) I can do one, but not the other.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 21, 2011 1:25 PM    Report this comment

I almost always tell my passengers, "be careful, Memphis has many unsafe drivers, so, the 'safe' part of your trip is over.

BZ

Posted by: William Zollinger | February 21, 2011 1:36 PM    Report this comment

"Fly low, and slow down in the turns." "Please fasten your seat belts, it makes the bodies easier to find." Risk mitigation.

Posted by: Andy Smith | February 21, 2011 1:43 PM    Report this comment

Paul: Well that is why I married her!

Posted by: Adam Hunt | February 21, 2011 2:06 PM    Report this comment

I usually use the phrase, "See you in the funnies" when say so long. Why? Because life is just a continuing comic book episode with characters that continue to amuse and disgust me.

The really funny part is is that it just continues over and over and over, just like the Sunday comics.

Posted by: Carter Boswell | February 21, 2011 2:14 PM    Report this comment

after all that all i can say is humber gashie to which you would respond shalar gushie translated humber means go shalar means stay and gashie loosely translated means well.

so go well

Posted by: Bruce Savage | February 21, 2011 2:19 PM    Report this comment

Someone needs a nap! :-)

Posted by: Bradley Spatz | February 21, 2011 4:10 PM    Report this comment

I want to know what color Paul turns upon hearing "any traffic in the area, please advise"?<<

Easy. Half the time, I don't have the radio in the Cub. (This causes other people to turn colors, but I avoid it.)

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 21, 2011 4:19 PM    Report this comment

Bruce said, "Some years ago the policy was to ensure that pilots and co-pilots could not fly together if they were both Christians (the rapture was the fear then).:

You have got to be kidding? Do you have any substantiation for that statement?

Paul,

Take a breath. Folks are probably just trying to be nice ... but then again, I get really testy when folks seem to underestimate the danger of icing, but that's probably just because of my many years and hours of flying in and around it have given me a healthy respect for it.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | February 21, 2011 6:42 PM    Report this comment

I'm with the author, Paul, on this one.

Generally it's some non-pilot behind the desk urging "Be careful out there, now" as I'm heading out the door of the FBO, causing me to pause in mid-stride and think about what my response should be to a no-nothing desk jockey.

Posted by: James Briggs | February 21, 2011 7:17 PM    Report this comment

Paul,

You are my hero. I frequently get text messages from my mom reminding me that I'm a father, so "be careful". It also seems every spineless pilot who rarely flies unless its cavu, seems to be an expert to the point of angrily pushing their point on me.

These safety nazis are generally the guys spending too much time getting additional rules passed instead of actually flying.

USA today quoted Dale Earnhardt this week. I loved it and plan to use it lots on the "A" sorts you speak of next time they tell me how to live. "Why don't you tie kerosene rags around your ankles so the ants don't climb up you legs and eat that candy ass of yours?"

I'm sure to make more friends...

Posted by: Brad Vaught | February 21, 2011 7:51 PM    Report this comment

Paul, there might be "C" and "D" people too. C's are people who don't know that the activity is risky and D's who assume someone else has evaluated and accept the risk. I will have to admit that I was person D the night we blasted off into 200 and 1/4 for approaches in the Mooney. We did 2 missed approaches before heading to our alternate. I learned a huge amount about instrument flying that night and "the airplane flies the same at night or during the day". I did not learn to evaluate the risk however, I assumed you had evaluated the risk and it was acceptable to me as well. I didn't do the risk assessment myself.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | February 21, 2011 9:28 PM    Report this comment

I just got an email from Pilot Insurance Center, that signed off with "Fly Safely". Then the actor's wish to "break a leg".

I wonder what umbrage might be taken should someone expropriate the name of god, and be so presumptous to reply to Paul's sneeze with "God bless you".

Posted by: Claude Wagner | February 21, 2011 11:23 PM    Report this comment

First, I must apologize for my bad spelling in my previous post. When I fly (passenger), after we stop at the gate, I sometimes say to the person next to me; "Now comes the most dangerous part of the trip, (received with puzzled look) - the drive home!" PS. In my theatre group, we consider it unlucky to say "Break a leg". We have had four accidents involving broken or damaged bone.

Posted by: David Ellis | February 22, 2011 7:05 AM    Report this comment

blasted off into 200 and 1/4 for approaches in the Mooney<<

???!!!

Good grief. You've got to be more careful

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 7:08 AM    Report this comment

Hi Linda. To answer your question this happened in the early 70’s that’s 1972/3, makes me feel very old. It was the time of the rapidly expanding (and I mean extraordinary expanding) Born Again movements lead by Billy Graham , Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Rhema etc. All preaching that Jesus was about to return (like any minute now) and all the Christian will suddenly be taken up into heaven without notice, called the Rapture. Please understand that this growth was exceptionally fast and the Charismatic Churches were growing so fast that the buildings space could not keep up. At that time most airlines were very worried that what was being preached would happen and what if both Pilot and Co-pilot were Christians and were raptured whilst in mid-flight between points. What would happen to the passengers that were left behind? The obvious answer, ensure that Pilot and Co-pilot were not both Born Again Christians. This extraordinary expansion of the Born Again movement collapsed around early 1980’s so the threat seemed to fade into history and all returned to normal.

Answers your question? Life is great as long as you don't weaken said the Actress to the Bishop in the parlor eating bread and honey. :-)

Posted by: Bruce Savage | February 22, 2011 9:16 AM    Report this comment

This has become a really weird discussion. Perhaps it is time to end it and go to something more directly aviation relation. Such as Risk Assessment and Private Flying: What Are Your Criteria?

Posted by: David Ellis | February 22, 2011 9:28 AM    Report this comment

Actually, I was finding the rapture thing most illuminating. In Catholic school, we didn't have that. Instead, we had ritual beatings during the course of which I often wished to be ascended to my great reward, but it never worked.

And just look how I turned out.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 12:03 PM    Report this comment

Bruce,

I'm aware of the history, but can you point me to any actual documentation that says any airline made this a policy?

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | February 22, 2011 12:14 PM    Report this comment

Actual documentation. hmm could be difficult try CAA as in Central African Airways (Rhodesia), BOAC, Pan-Am,(all three no longer in existence) SAA (this policy was severely changed due to political influences regarding race etc). Other than that sorry no can do too many years ago to be more precise. But thanks for the interest.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | February 22, 2011 1:25 PM    Report this comment

Actual documentation. hmm could be difficult try CAA as in Central African Airways (Rhodesia), BOAC, Pan-Am,(all three no longer in existence) SAA (this policy was severely changed due to political influences regarding race etc). Other than that sorry no can do too many years ago to be more precise. But thanks for the interest.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | February 22, 2011 1:26 PM    Report this comment

It takes a particular kind of person to take a customary expression of care and concern ("be careful"), over-analyze it, ridicule it for it's lack of immediate contribution to safety (to which it purports none), and argue that it shouldn't be said.

So in addition to all the other political correctness I have to worry about, I can't say "Be careful" because it makes poor, fragile Paul Bertorelli angry.

You've reached a new plateau. Can't you just accept the sentiment of care and concern embedded in the phrase, and walk away? Or do I have to say "Dear Paul, we are parting ways and I wish for your safe return. This statement in no way is intended to enhance safety or call into question your pre-flight preparedness."

Posted by: Donald Harper | February 22, 2011 1:29 PM    Report this comment

Great post Paul, I agree completely.

Mostly it's about context and tone. The "be careful" comments seem to come from people who don't understand my joy in doing "unsafe" activities like flying gliders or small planes, so they assume that I'm headed out to cheat death recklessly. The comments also seem to said in the same tone that a mother would use to remind a twelve year old boy to be careful on his skateboard. The implication that I am either too stupid or too suicidal or too unskilled is what sets off my iritation.

Now if one of my typical flying buddies said "be careful" to me as I was ready to go fly, I would ask them for specifics.

Posted by: Todd Smith | February 22, 2011 1:50 PM    Report this comment

Can't you just accept the sentiment of care and concern embedded in the phrase, and walk away? Or do I have to say "Dear Paul, we are parting ways and I wish for your safe return. This statement in no way is intended to enhance safety or call into question your pre-flight preparedness."<<

Must I suffer this nanny state in which everyone is so touchingly concerned for my well being but who actually don't give a rat's #$#?

I guess I must. And I am mostly kidding here, by the way, so don't feel all of the customary expressions of care and concern are over analyzed. They're not. They're just irritating is all.

I'd much prefer to hear a well-crafted, stinging insult. At least we could both get a good laugh out of that. Like Brad's comment about the candy asses. That's a keeper!

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 22, 2011 3:31 PM    Report this comment

Absolutely hilarious! I personally maintain that we should do away with warning labels, to clean up the gene pool. Curmudgeons unite!

Thanks for the laugh, Paul.

Posted by: Tom Mitchell | February 23, 2011 12:28 AM    Report this comment

I thought pilot rapture occurs every time a pilot touches down and reaches the destination in one piece!

Posted by: David Ellis | February 23, 2011 7:18 AM    Report this comment

Well done David, and I thought a landing was a controlled crash interrupted by the runway.

Now if I take my tongue out of my cheek and stop jesting I would like to say that all salutations can be represented with good intentions or bad. The person receiving that gesture can take it as they want to. IF you happen to be a very positive person you will accept the salutation as a token of goodwill. BUT IF you are a negative person then you will reject and possibly feel hurt that it was uttered.

For every action the is an equal and opposite reaction. This is in all aspect of life when someone says Good morning some will accept the greeting as a polite opening gambit, others will think "What's so good about it" they may even say it. Your reaction determines if you are in a positive or negative attitude.

Remember there needs to have as many negative people as there are positive people in any given situation to keep balance

A question Paul and with with all due respect what camp are you in?

Posted by: Bruce Savage | February 23, 2011 8:09 AM    Report this comment

Ok, I hate when someone says "Thank you," and the response is - "no problem." Please just say, "You're welcome." "No problem" is like saying "be careful" only worse. While we are at it, everyone stop saying, "It is what it is." Try using insight and logic when analyzing an issue instead of a catch phrase.

Posted by: John Bond | February 23, 2011 8:09 AM    Report this comment

A question Paul and with with all due respect what camp are you in?<<

I guess I'm in the ignorant cynic camp. Most of the time, I just don't even hear "be careful" or "take care." They're like "seeya later." When I do hear it, it's usually the comment that is exceptionally directed and emphasized as if to imply what I'm about to do is very dangerous and I need to be careful. Like a reminder to imply I haven't thought about it. But I actually have. I just have the risk-taking gene set and people that don't sometimes wish to impose their own fears, concerns (and ignorance) upon me with a banal catch phrase that conveys no intelligent forethought. That's why Pete nailed me with my unthinking comment.

And I'm with John on "no problem." When did that replace "you're welcome." I realize language is living and evolves; no problem there. But there's a subtle difference to me and "you're welcome" just works better. Guess I'm old fashioned on that.

And generally, to my friends, I often depart with: "Have a perfectly #$@#$E up day." They get the joke. Does anyone else?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 8:31 AM    Report this comment

So, Paul, were you so taken out of sorts when the comment to "Be careful out there, now." was received that you immediately went through the "IM SAFE" self-assessment checklist and decided not to fly based on your internalized responses to the "S" and "E" of said checklist? Inquiring minds what to know...

;-)

Posted by: Andrew Milan | February 23, 2011 8:39 AM    Report this comment

I would like to know where and when the "no problem" response was "born". I think that people who say it do not, in most cases, realize they are saying it. It does, however, give me the thought that the person saying it does not care one way or another. Well trained people know what to say in a situation. When was the last time you heard, "How are you?" when you check in at reception at a hospital or Dr.'s office?

Posted by: David Ellis | February 23, 2011 8:42 AM    Report this comment

I get it Paul. Put me in "your camp". Really, it's "No Problem".

Posted by: Scott Thompson | February 23, 2011 9:00 AM    Report this comment

So, Paul, were you so taken out of sorts when the comment to "Be careful out there, now." was received that you immediately went through the "IM SAFE" self-assessment checklist and decided not to fly based on your internalized responses to the "S" and "E" of said checklist? Inquiring minds what to know...<<

LOL.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2011 9:31 AM    Report this comment

FLY HARD DIE FREE! ;-)

Posted by: Patty Haley | February 23, 2011 11:24 AM    Report this comment

What a great discussion. I always thought I was a Type-A personality but reading sone of these posts (a few of which do not seem to be tongue in cheek) I realize that there is a whole other level! I guess I am much more laid back than I thought. Happy trails and be careful out there!

Posted by: Ken Appleby | February 23, 2011 11:39 AM    Report this comment

Pax Vobiscum

Posted by: Claude Wagner | February 23, 2011 11:45 AM    Report this comment

There was an instructor at kfdw years ago when I was weekend manager. I liked him lots and scared the $hit out of him teaching him spins in the 150 and as a reward he issued me a spin training endorsement. The two of us respected each other and traded playful insults. The last time I saw him my parting comment was " if I don't see you again to he'll with you!" with a laugh at the end. He didn't take it so well for some reason. That night he crashed his car and burned to death screaming while two friends watched with empty fire extinguishers.

From then on I'm extra careful about my parting comments unless I'm super sure the receiver appreciates my humor.

Posted by: Brad Vaught | February 23, 2011 11:58 AM    Report this comment

Paul,

"Psychobabble" or not, risk management is a hard science that can be reduced easily to a set of rules that are easy to apply in GA, but they are more complex than just having a plan B. My own analysis of accidents for clients suggests that the overwhelming majority of GA fatal accidents are, in fact, risk management accidents. Yet, we don't teach effective risk management procedures in most curricula. The process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating risk could save a lot more lives in GA than any single deficiency in traditional skill training. I've written about this in recent issues of "Aviation Safety" magazine and I hope that awareness of risk management doctrine increases in the community.

Posted by: Robert Wright | February 23, 2011 12:00 PM    Report this comment

My apologies on the post about risk management and the articles in "Aviation Safety". I forgot about the anonymous rule.

Robert Wright

Posted by: Robert Wright | February 23, 2011 12:03 PM    Report this comment

Love that Paul. "Break a Leg".

Posted by: Craig Porter | February 23, 2011 12:36 PM    Report this comment

"Fly safe", "Be safe", "Fly pretty", "Take care"--all just expressions of concern, affection, etc. Why so up tight about them? Sheesh!

Cary

Posted by: Cary Alburn | February 23, 2011 1:48 PM    Report this comment

Jeez Paul. I hate to be negative here but I can't help but feel like you ran out of real news and so typed up this really rather lame article. With all the stuff going on in aviation and indeed in the entire world I'd think there should be some piece of news that would be more appropriate. I apologize for being so....well.....you know. I was just disappointed.

Posted by: Willie Sinsel | February 23, 2011 6:49 PM    Report this comment

Furthermore I hate it when someone that I feel is in a position of knowledge or authority gives me the occasion to raise an eyebrow. I then begin to question all things they say. Again, my apologies. I'm just as I said, disappointed.

Posted by: Willie Sinsel | February 23, 2011 6:59 PM    Report this comment

My pet peeve is "Drive Carefully", to which I reply....driving carefully is very boring.

Posted by: Ron Gravitt | February 23, 2011 7:24 PM    Report this comment

Godspeed Paul Bertorelli.........no?

Posted by: John Barber | February 23, 2011 7:32 PM    Report this comment

>>"I often wished to be ascended to my great reward, but it never worked."<<

Gee, Paul I don’t know, climbing into a Cub and taking off on a warm summer day can be an awful lot like heaven.

Posted by: Rod Pollard | February 24, 2011 6:31 AM    Report this comment

Gee, Paul I don’t know, climbing into a Cub and taking off on a warm summer day can be an awful lot like heaven.<<

Yeah, but it's not quite the same satisfaction as being able to transmogrify in the midst of having the crap beat out of you by a Franciscan nun.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 24, 2011 6:59 AM    Report this comment

However, even be careful about flying a Cub. According to Scott Crossfield, I think, a cub can just barely kill you.

Posted by: David Ellis | February 24, 2011 7:40 AM    Report this comment

"The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you." - Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)

Posted by: Andrew Milan | February 24, 2011 8:56 AM    Report this comment

Thank you Andrew. I saw the quote in the book, "Slipping the Surly Bonds" by Dave English, but, not having it handy, did not remember the quote author. It is a lovely book.

Posted by: David Ellis | February 24, 2011 9:38 AM    Report this comment

My usual reaction to "be careful",especially from a stranger, is to abruptly stop, turn around, and assert "Don't tell me what to do!". Followed by a smile, this generally disarms the person and at the same time makes them realize how stupid their warning was.

My favorite though is "How are you"?. I usually start by telling them that I had my prostate out a year ago, my PSA is now normal. That I had a small Melanoma removed recently from my chest and that the margins were all OK. I then go on to give them my latest blood pressure readings and how all of the above has affected my mood. They usually start fidgeting around when I get to the Melanoma.

If I am rushed for time, my other reaction to "be careful" is to continue walking with a loud "NO!"

Posted by: Karl Hipp | February 24, 2011 11:03 AM    Report this comment

I am wondering if Paul needs his meds adjust? and just because I care...take care... :)

Posted by: Richard Mutzman | February 24, 2011 11:37 AM    Report this comment

Reminds me of the weather briefer who was very pessimistic about my proposed IFR flight with possibility of TSTMs. He could not have been a pilot himself, or he wouldn't have been so emphatic about recommending I not go. As it turned out, there were clouds, but mostly VMC existed during the flight and it could have easily been done VFR.

Also reminds me of Richard Bach's pessimism some years back regarding single-engine operations at night, or VFR on top of solid undercast. Sometimes the risk is worth it; otherwise I'd never get out of bed in the morning.

I think of "drive safe" and "be careful" as superstitious anti-jinxes, but I (usually) appreciate the thought behind them. Not so much, the very fake-sounding but ubiquitous "I'm sorry for you loss" that all the actor/law enforcement types are constantly saying on TV these days.

Posted by: Mac Hayes | February 24, 2011 12:20 PM    Report this comment

Sometimes if someone asked how I am, I will reply, "Actually today I an quire gruntled". The reply guite often is, "Oh dear, what is wrong or what happened". So, I let them figure it out.

Posted by: David Ellis | February 24, 2011 12:36 PM    Report this comment

I wish I had seen Tom Mitchell's post sooner: Absolutely hilarious! "I personally maintain that we should do away with warning labels, to clean up the gene pool. Curmudgeons unite!"

I'm a firm believer in survival of the fittest, and seriously would like to go back to the 50s when those who were less "fit" did not survive. I probably wouldn't be alive today, either, but so be it! All the better for the future of humanity.

Posted by: Mac Hayes | February 24, 2011 12:37 PM    Report this comment

I know someone who we've learned not to ask how she is, or you really find out. She's 91 though.

And Patty Haley--I knew one in the Army once-asked how she was-but that's another story.

Tom Mitchell may be right about the "laugh". I think Paul's putting us all on and sitting back and watching this go on for four days.

Posted by: Claude Wagner | February 24, 2011 12:52 PM    Report this comment

When someone says " Have a nice day." Sometimes I respond, "Thanks but I have other plans"

Posted by: Patty Haley | February 24, 2011 4:18 PM    Report this comment

I can't imagine how hard it was for Paul not to keep from laughing he wrote the article. Humor will keep us sane.. Thanks for reminding us Paul..

Posted by: Patty Haley | February 24, 2011 5:28 PM    Report this comment

Little relief from writing about avgas,

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 24, 2011 7:34 PM    Report this comment

The next time someone tells you to "be careful" try these:

"Too late!" "Now you tell me." "When?" "What do you know that I don't know???" "How?" "Is there a time limit on that?" "No problem... I have a check list" and finally: "Kill joy!!!"

Posted by: Rand Smedley | March 2, 2011 1:32 AM    Report this comment

How about, 'Don't do anything that would make for a funny NTSB report or a Darwin award nomination' ?

I occasionally find that to be an effective tool for breaking my possible accident chains.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | March 2, 2011 1:29 PM    Report this comment

Paul is just laughing at this while he leans back and watches the action. He said it was a relief from writing about avgas.

Reminds me of my late actor-pilot friend, Hank Stohl when we were attending a regular meeting of the Media Boyz one night. Retired and working TV news anchors, radio broadcasters, writers, PR people all around a large table.

Hank was unusually quiet that night while the banter went on generally about the industry and news. Suddenly, he made the comment, "You know, Ahmadinejad of Iran, is Jewish?".

The entire table, stopped and went quiet. Then everyone, in a torent, spoke at once saying they had no idea and how could that be, and what were the psychological motivations etc. The conversation went on for 45 minutes about the subject with arguments about Middle Eastern intrigue.

Hank remained silent throughout. Only I saw the glint in his eye. I see that same glint in Paul's eye.

Posted by: Claude Wagner | March 2, 2011 2:21 PM    Report this comment

My wife always tells me to "drive careful" whenever I leave on a trip in the truck. I don't know which is more annoying; that she thinks I won't be careful unless she reminds me, or that she doesn't know an adjective from an adverb.

Posted by: John Worsley | March 2, 2011 10:14 PM    Report this comment

John Worsley: "drive careful" is the standard trucker version of "Vaya con Dios." I've been hearing it for over ten years now from my truck driver friends.

Posted by: Mac Hayes | March 3, 2011 5:07 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I remember it as "drive fast, take chances, pull low, and pass on curves".

I actually do say "let's be careful out there" to my crew and sometimes friends in the morning and I personally do mentally pause for a moment and think over some of the potential consequences of certain actions within the realm I am about to enter when someone says it to me. I think of it as a friendly reminder of the many dangers I need to dodge every day in the course of working to feed my family.

But I was not always careful. Since you know him you might ask Pete about a certain night jump we made in Deland in 1993! BSBD.

Posted by: George Parker | March 4, 2011 8:51 PM    Report this comment

A good one I heard came from a rural area in Manitoba.

It is: "Go Lucky"

Posted by: David Ellis | March 4, 2011 11:39 PM    Report this comment

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