Plane & Pilot
Sunday, February 1, 2004


The tiny voice in our head sometimes isn’t in our head

I was wrestling the airplane back into position when the student said, this time in a clear voice, “Hey, Budd, don’t be so hard on yourself. No one is perfect!”

I replied, “What do you mean?”

He said, “Well, you were really swearing at yourself back there.”

I laughed, even though I was a little embarrassed. The voice I had thought was in my head chastising me wasn’t in my head. I had said it all out loud, apparently in a very frustrated, angry voice. Perfect! I wondered how long I had been talking out loud and how many students had heard my own private thoughts spilling out over the intercom. We had arrived at a point where our inadvertent eavesdropping on each other had become some sort of telepathic connection, except it was done out loud and we really didn’t mean for it to happen.

After that incident, I began to notice that I talk to myself a lot. I’ll be working in the office and I’ll hear my own voice say, “That was really dumb,” or one that I seem to say a lot, “And now for my next stupid people trick.”

Then Marlene pointed out that I seldom sing in the shower anymore (traditionally, it had been a regular concert hall). Instead, I hold these long-winded debates with myself about what I’ve done right or wrong, or the merits of a new idea.

Now, I’m getting worried. I used to spend a lot of time in New York City and I’d always see this one old guy standing on a street corner pontificating to no one in particular. He was determined to make a point, even though no one was listening.

A few years from now, are people going to be talking about the old CFI seen pushing a shopping cart full of thumb-worn AIMs and av-mags around the airport while he blathers on about keeping the ball centered and watching the nose attitude? I hope not. But if it comes to that, just pat me on the head and make sure I know where the restroom is. And ask me to sign your logbook from time to time to complete the image.

Budd Davisson is an accomplished aviation writer and photographer, CFII & A, aircraft owner and builder. He has authored two books and lectured at the Smithsonian and NASA’s Langley Research Center. Check out his Website at


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