On every flight, be prepared for changing weather, have a Plan B, and stick with it to live another day—even for a short $100 hamburger run in your Cessna 172.
Sounds drastic? Not if you consider the surprising number of pilots who may have had a Plan B, did not follow it, and became a statistic as a result of entering low visibility weather and losing control of their airplanes—sometimes with passengers on board.
So, why do pilots pull the chocks, fly, and allow themselves to enter deteriorating conditions? There are a multitude of factors that play a role in decision making, but one of the biggest, when it comes to bad decisions, is a category labeled external pressure. There’s somewhere you need to be. There’s someone you don’t want to disappoint. You only have the clothes on your back—laying over for the night will be a hassle. While overriding yourself on the first two examples takes mental discipline, you can inoculate yourself from the last one by simply packing for Plan B—to divert and land.
Get a light backpack or satchel (there are a lot of cool aviation-themed ones) and pack for an overnight stay: a change of clothes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, any medications you take, a good book, and a couple hundred bucks cash for food, drinks, and lodging
Keep your bag packed, store it with your headset bag, and take it with you on every flight—without exception. If you’re always equipped to make an unscheduled overnight stay comfortable, you’ve effectively removed one excuse to press on when the weather turns bad on you. After that, the next day will prove to be a good day to live.