Five Lessons from Aviation for Your Everyday Life

René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH
6 min readApr 25, 2023
Photo by Kristopher Allison on Unsplash

A quick summary of what you’re about to read, if you don’t have a lot of time:

Lessons from aviation can be applied to everyday life. These include remaining calm and focused in high-pressure situations, avoiding unnecessary risks, following rules and avoiding distractions, listening to advice, and trusting your gut. Remembering that “there is more time than life” and saying “nope” when necessary can also keep you safe.

Okay, so you do have time… Read on!

I’ve taken a few hours of flight instruction in my life, and I hope to have some time soon to re-start learning how to fly an airplane. Before my first lesson, more than ten years ago, I started watching videos on YouTube about aviation. I wanted to know what to expect and how to prepare. Since then, I’ve been following a few channels on aviation. Not too long into watching these aviation videos, I realized that the lessons about flying — especially the lessons learned during incidents or accidents — could be applied to everyday life.

So let me share five lessons I learned…

Lesson 1: Regain Your Composure and Focus

In this video, we listen to the air traffic control (ATC) recording of a pilot who finds himself in some trouble. It seems the pilot flew into a cloud and became disoriented. (This is one of the top killers of private pilots, by the way.) In trying to get out of the cloud, he ended up stalling the plane into a spin. As you listen, I want to you pay attention to the demeanor of the controller as he instructs the pilot on what to do.

The controller did a fantastic job staying calm and trying to calm down the pilot. The instructions were clear, and the controller did not communicate more than necessary.

The lesson here is to remain calm. Sure, it’s easier said than done when you’re not in an airplane, high up in the air, as the plane spirals…

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René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH

DrPH in Epidemiology. Associate/JHBSPH. Adjunct/GMU. Epidemiologist. Father. Husband. (He/Him/His/El)