where is the nose pointed — observations #3

C-17 cockpit displays and controlsThe attitude of the airplane is where the nose is pointed. Is it pointed up or down? Is it in a bank to the left or right?

There is an instrument in every airplane that shows the aircrew what the airplane attitude is, like the blue and brown display pictured here.

Attitude applies to this airplane, the C-17, to paper airplanes, and to life.

The key principle about attitude is this:
You can set an attitude that will achieve the desired performance.

You are in control of attitude. Here are 3 things you can try with your own paper airplane.

1. Decide what attitude to set.
Do you want to climb? Then point the nose up. But if you want to descend for landing, then point the nose down. Now let it fly and watch what happens.

2. Evaluate the trajectory.
Does it perform like you expected? Perhaps it did better or maybe worse? For example, if the nose is too high, the airplane will climb too steeply, run out of airspeed, and fall back toward the earth. So how well did you do? If it didn’t go like you planned, then you can make a change.

3. Adjust the attitude.
Decide what adjustment to make, and apply the steps of this checklist again.

There are some corresponding evaluations that must take place when we execute these steps. By evaluation, I mean measurement and accountability.

How do we set the attitude, if we have nothing to compare it to, no standard or system of measurement? Determining the performance outcome of a change in attitude is also impossible without a standard.

I am not saying that the “measurement” has to be quantitative–we don’t need to measure in micrometers. But we do need to determine if we hit the target or missed it.

Life is a journey. And these are observations from ours.

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