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history was and why the boss had it in for him, so I didn’t ask. “Well,” I said, “We’ll just say we descended because we saw some weather up ahead and decided to go down to 500 feet. No problem, as far as I can see.” I wanted to reassure him I was with him on this.


“Don’t lie,” he told me. “Never lie.”


I wondered if what he was talking about required us to come up with a story falling into the category of “plausible deniability” that another eccentric and mildly paranoid pilot, Phil Lee, had spoken to me about on a fl ight earlier that month. Or maybe what we were doing was categorized and listed in the safety offi cer’s “matrix of punishments” Phil had also warned me about during that same fl ight.


I thought about it for a moment. Wait a minute, we had just descended out of solid IMC and he was calling it “thin- broken,” as if we could see the water below just now—which we couldn’t. So he was in fact lying (at least to himself) but he didn’t see it that way because it was probably a better rationalization of plausible deniability than the excuse I had just come up with, although it is one used by pilots all the time.


I didn’t say anything more on the subject, as I felt we had hit an impasse in the logic. I just took the incident for what it was: confusing, lacking any sort of plausible deniability … and of course, extremely paranoid.


Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Aero.


He may be contacted at: randym@oregonaero.com


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