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Friday, January 07, 2011

What have the Red Baron, 'Mick' Mannock & Georges Guynemer all got in common ?

All 3 of the named pilots, in the title I give here, were elite pilots or 'aces'. They were all, therefore, highly skilled and survived as they knew and adhered to principles that kept them going in stressful circumstances.

BUT that is not what I am focusing on, for their common ground. Rather, they all died as they broke basic rules. Target fixation & flying in a straight-line too low to the ground:

"...Richthofen's behaviour after his injury was noted as consistent with brain-injured patients, and such an injury could account for his perceived lack of judgment on his final flight: flying too low over enemy territory and suffering target fixation.[48]
There is also the possibility that Richthofen was suffering from cumulative combat stress, which made him fail to observe some of his usual precautions. It is noteworthy that one of the leading British air aces, Major Edward "Mick" Mannock, was killed by ground fire on 26 July 1918 while crossing the lines at low level, an action he had always cautioned his younger pilots against. One of the most popular of the French air aces, Georges Guynemer, went missing on 11 September 1917, probably while attacking a two-seater without realizing several Fokkers were escorting it.[49][50]"

(Source: Wikipedia : accessed Jan 2011).

My point is ... if even these elite pilots get into trouble and break laws of 'the basics' then we will. It must be a question of probability that is the question here. Basic rules and skills, therefore, will probably be forgotten on some occasions no matter how expert you are.

(The Barons article is interesting. I accessed the Lancet to read the paper they mention. He had taken a bullet to the head the year before but still carried on. The sense of duty even when brain damaged increased his chances of being killed. He should not have been up in that plane at all. All of them should have been retired and passed on their skills not burned out like this). 

I chose pilots as an example, as I know the 'OODA loop' is being used from fighter pilot tactics as a way to think in self-defence. That is an ideal method to employ - but does not mean it can be implemented every time. The knowledge of that would increase  your chances, and chances involve probability. In other words luck can be involved in foiling that scheme or just bad judgement in it's deployment.

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