“Don’t judge me by your limitations “

This is probably my most favorite quote, ever. Not only because it strikes painfully clear, but because I heard my father say it.

I was a Crew Chief at a private FBO (fixed base of operations) at an airfield along the front range mountains in Colorado.

For those that aren’t familiar with the area, the weather can go from mild to deadly in a matter of minutes. Mixtures of the mountain wave air, high altitude and colliding pressure systems get things spicy.

This was one of “those” days.

The airfield was basically closed due to a blizzard that was raging across the area. The airlines (that fall under different guidelines than private) were grounded, awaiting clearance after the storm passed.

We had finished clearing a massive snow drift just to pull the jet my dad flew out of the hanger, into this hurricane of wind and snow.

As my father was closing up his flight bag and zipping his jacket, a crowd of other pilots stared at him in disbelief. These are real pilots, all with at least twin engine jet experience in multiple aircraft.

One of the pilots looked at my dad and said “there is no way you are going to take off in this?!?”

My father calmly looked at his peer and said “Don’t judge me by your limitations”, and walked out into the storm.

Holy hell…

I was floored.

What that pilot didn’t know is my father is a highly experienced jet pilot, aerobatic instructor, Airline Transport Pilot, Multi Engine Instrument Instructor, Mountain Flying instructor, trained by one of the best Vietnam fighter pilots in the world… and he is an engineer…

My dad knew the limits of himself, his aircraft, the FAA regulations, the exact weather conditions, and put the safety & security of his passengers first and foremost.

I knew what he was doing was just a normal day of a private jet pilot. But that completely dumbfounded the pilot who decided to stay.

What if that pilot planted a seed of doubt? What if my dad didn’t go after listening to him? What if all the other pilots saw him quit? What if I saw him listen?

More times than not, if someone tells you that you can’t do something- it’s because they can’t do it themselves.

The other pilots should learn from the experience, understanding that you can fly beyond your current limit’s safely, if you do it right and stay within your abilities.

The pilot that called my father out should learn that his inadequacies do not transfer to everyone in the room. (The loudest in the room am I right?)

Lead from the front…

Be the example for others to follow.

Within a matter of seconds from my dad raising the gear after takeoff, they were in the bright yellow sun for the rest of the flight.

So next time someone tries to make you feel insecure about something because they are…

Tell them:

“Don’t judge me by your limitations”


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