Putting the Nose Down Fearlessly

This week, a fighter jet pilot lands his disabled plane….nose to stool.



The pilot, Captain William Mahoney….we’ll call him Cap’n Will…..gave an interview that told the story of taking off and immediately knowing that something was wrong with his nose gear. The landing gear became inoperable. This is a floating situation where alternative landings are in the…um…ocean.

So, what does Cap’n Will do? He flies past the tower, where there is another fighter pilot watching. The second jet pilot looks during the fly by and confirms that the landing gear is unworkable. What to do.

Well, it seems that there is an amazing invention that looks like a stool and is secured to the ships landing platform. I assume that it is not kept in the open per usual, because the pilot didn’t seem too aware of it. The premise is this: a pilot of a freakin’ fighter jet…think roaring, fast, alarming…….hovers over the landing platform to execute a vertical landing. Like a helicopter.

The pilot has to trust completely in the community on board. He couldn’t even see the stool. He was guided in and lowered this hovering jet built for speed, and brought it down to 20 feet over the deck…..at which point….he DROPPED the plane.

He put the nose down fearlessly as it dropped perfectly onto the stool. You’ll see in the video that there were a couple of bounces. Perfectly done. He landed a fighter jet on the side of a boat, in a way he had never done before.

Watch the interview. It is a powerful testament to preparing, readiness, routine.

Cap’n Will said that they drill and drill and drill to perfect an exact landing. On the carriers there is no room for error. It was that drilling, that allowed him to do what needed to be done…..to put the nose down fearlessly.

What are you doing to put your nose down fearlessly? What are you drilling day after day, to prepare you for the ordinary and for the unworkable moments?

What do you say to yourself over and over and over……what are you preparing for……as you captain your daily living?

…I can’t do this

…Others are so lucky

…Look what she’s got

…Why does this always happen to me?

…When is my break?

…I’m a fraud and everyone knows it


……and on the drilling goes. We land our psyches and souls perfectly on the platforms prepared for the worst, the unfair, the lowest within ourselves. But this is not about changing your mantras to something happier. It is more than just thinking differently……it is about a four-fold balance that jets us to the edge of change and the next level.

What drills do you give your mind: The mantras you repeat to yourself

What drills do you give your emotions: Repression or allowance for their expression

What drills do you give your vision/spirit: Limited or Unbounded

What drills do you give your body: Couch or Movement

When we tend to on a daily basis….when we drill for perfect landings……out of all four areas, we prepare for our higher selves, readying ourselves for our top performance.

I’m just beginning to get this. A great book “Language of Emotions” by Karla McLaren, brings this balance forward. My mind is absorbing it, my emotions are finding a free flow, my vision/spirit looks far and wide, my body is moving again.

All four are intelligences that we can rely on. All four deserve attention, drills, focus. They come together on the razor’s edge.

We do this because life throws us unworkable landing gear.

….our parents die

….our friends move

….our bodies become weak

….we lose our jobs

….the one we love leaves

….our belief system crumbles

We have the opportunity every day to bring this four-fold force into play…with every conversation or task….to ask our emotions “What are you feeling”, because emotions move trauma through and out of our systesm. To ask our vision “What is possible in this?” because our vision reveals what is possible. To ask our minds “What do you tihnk?”, because our minds handle the details. To ask our bodies “How will we move through this?” because our bodies do the soaring.

And it all comes together when the landing gear fails.

Oh, but what about that other jet pilot in the tower? Yes, we cultivate community that is trustworthy and knowledgeable. And what about the people on the platform? Where were they? They had been cleared away, in case there had been a problem.

That means our community helps us, guides us, informs us, is with us….until they need to step back so the danger we are facing does not also take them down. Cap’n Will did not feel let down that he was ultimately alone for the landing. It was his to do. Success or failure….platform or sea…..life or death.

What I love the most is Cap’n Will’s words toward the end of the interview. He said that he didn’t know how scared he was until the landing was over and he had to sit in the cockpit for a full minute trying to remember how to turn the jet off.

…remember how to turn the jet off.

I love that. He drilled on all the hard stuff, and when he met the challenge of a disabled landing, the part he couldn’t do was to turn of off the jet. Because after it was over, his body emotions vision and mind worked together to move the trauma out of his whole self so that he could go on….to the next drill or the next unexpected challenge. His body shook so that the intensity of the situation wouldn’t find a home in his bones. And he just let his whole system do its job, just as he had done his.

We are all jets….sleek with speed. We are all Cap’n(s)…..preparing for what can not be anticipated. We are all guiding each other to the alternative landings, getting out of the way for the job to get done, and then running back in to hold on, celebrate, fix the gear. We are all smiling, shaking messes when we have met the unknown and lived to tell about it.

Our highest selves aren’t always in OM mode or chill mode. Our highest selves are always in life mode, ready to show us what we’ve got.