Less Aileron… Sooner!

It is interesting how things you learn in one area of life can help in others. In one of my early blog posts, I related some wisdom from my first flying instructor Harry. Here is another gem from Harry that I’ve found most helpful in other parts of my life. It may take some time to sink in for you… but think about it.

One of the hallmarks of a good pilot is how they can smooth out a ride, and precisely control their aircraft in maneuvers. I was flying with Harry one day and clearly was working hard to keep the plane on track while following his commands during the lesson. Harry didn’t talk much, his philosophy was to let the plane do the teaching. On occasion he would impart a key piece of advice so I always listened carefully to what he would say. On this particular day, after watching me work too hard at the controls he said: ”Hey Bob, try this: A little less aileron…Sooner!”

The ailerons on a plane are control surfaces on the wing. Here is a picture:

They are moved by the pilot, along with the rudder and the elevator to control the flight of a plane.

Essentially his input to me was this: I was using large, abrupt movements of the control surfaces. He wanted me to start more quickly but use subtler and more gradual control movements. It took me a while to apply what he said, but after hours of practice, I learned to slightly anticipate the need for control inputs and make the adjustments more progressive – quickly adding a little and then a little more or taking away a little at a time.

How does this apply to other areas of life? I’ll try a couple, and I bet you can come up with a lot more.

  • I coach ski racing on the weekends. As skiers work to control their turn shape, one of the variables is edge angle – the amount the ski is tipped relative to the snow surface. This concept works great here – “a little less edge – sooner!” Perfect for smoothing out jerky turns or improving hold on ice.
  • As a Dad, I’m trying to help my children develop good study habits. They are realizing that if they study a little each night instead of cramming right before an exam, they do better in school. Imagine telling your kids “a little less studying – sooner!”

 So now I’m curious to hear from you, what could you “do less of, sooner” to positive effect?


About Bob Ganley

Enterprise Information Technology Executive, Family Man, Athlete @ganleybob on twitter
This entry was posted in Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Less Aileron… Sooner!

  1. Dale Reese says:


    Just checked out your Blog for the first time. On the studying front I still vividly remember your line “it is not a matter of wanting, it is a matter of doing.” That is a line I still use with my students to this day and some non-performing employees…

    BC ’82 (Bob’s roommate)

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