My Dad is a pilot, and a good one at that. He started the learning process back in the late 80s, motivated to find a quicker and more efficient way to get to our summer cabin in Northern Minnesota. His first plane was a Turbo Saratoga, which was a single-engine, front prop airplane.
In the summer of 1994, he was flying me and three of my friends back from a week up at the lake. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the ride was quite smooth for an hour or so…then, Ka-boom! The engine blew, oil covered the front windshield, smoke bellowed out on all sides, and panic set in—for the four teenagers, that is.
My dad stayed cool, calm, and collected. He was trained for this; he had a protocol to follow, and that was all that was on his mind. Within a matter of minutes, he identified the closest airport (Omaha) and shut down the electrical power to prevent any issues with the engine from becoming issues INSIDE the plane. At that point, we had no communication to the flight tower and had become a giant hang glider, with no power and no visual out the front windshield.
Turns out, there was a small-town runway a few miles BEHIND us. As passengers facing backwards, my friends and I saw the runway and notified my dad. He banked the plane and made a dead stick landing. It was very rough, but he got us down on the ground safely.
Turns out, we wouldn’t have made it to Omaha…
Not too many days later, my dad took me back out to the airport. He had rented another plane for the day; we got in and prepared to fly. He talked me through each sound, the function of each instrument, and the processes he went through in preparation for each flight. I listened intently.
To this day, I am still a bit nervous when I get into an airplane. But, knowing how well-trained the pilots are gives me comfort. Flying in an airplane may not always be smooth, but it is a very safe way to travel and the benefits of flying far outweigh the drawbacks.
Worldwide, in 2019, there were 1.71 airline accidents per 1 million flights. There were 5 fatal accidents, which corresponds to a fatality of risk of 0.13. What does that mean? You would have to travel by air every day for 461 years before experiencing an accident with at least one fatality.
Compare that to 36,096 automobile related deaths in 2019…and that is only in the US!
Statistics aside, most people prefer driving over flying. They perceive that there is more risk in flying. When you fly, you give control over to the pilot. When you drive, you can feel the steering wheel, the brake, the gas, and you can see the flow of traffic. The tires on the pavement as opposed to tens of thousands of feet of air between you and the pavement when flying.
However, there can be risk in holding on too tight and being fully in control. We all likely think we are great drivers, but statistics would say otherwise. And, if we are being honest with ourselves, there are times when we are too comfortable behind the wheel which can lead to complacency, and accidents.
The stock market
We know that you will feel anxiety from time to time when investing in stocks. Even so, the long-term benefits of investing in stocks far outweigh the drawbacks…much like flying. That is not opinion; time and statistics offer the proof. Importantly, sometimes it is necessary to go through choppy air to get to a smoother cruising altitude.
At P&A, we view ourselves as your trusted pilots. Most of the time the sky is clear, and the sailing is smooth, but there will be times when the ride gets bumpy, and we may even need to course correct. We can rarely predict when exactly that will happen. However, when that time does come, we will be prepared and will get you to your destination.
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Pittenger & Anderson, Inc. does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. Additionally, the information presented here is not intended to be a recommendation to buy or sell any specific security. To learn more about our firm and investment approach, check out our Form ADV.