Get Home-itis, from Chris Tucker

September 9, 2009 |

Flying is a risky proposition at all times, there are just so many, many ways to err in a completely unforgiving manner. One of the things that kills a lot of private pilots is "Get Home-itis". The need to get back can easily overpowers ones good judgment. "Perhaps if I hurry I'll beat that storm" or "visibility isn't really that bad, I've flown in worse" or "Yeah, icing conditions have been reported, but if we fly high enough I'm sure we can avoid it" and even (yes, pilots actually make this mistake) "I think we should have enough fuel to get back, no need to top off the tanks, Let's Go!" Good pilots are constantly reading about and discussing the mistakes that have killed other pilots. Not because we are morbid, but because there are always valuable lessons to be found in them.

The need to "get back" in pilots I think is synonymous with the need for traders to do the same. Wanting badly to get back to even can prevent one from focusing on the higher priority goal of doing it safely or at least with a modicum of judgment.

Alston Mabry adds:

One of the differences between the markets and an activity like flying is that in flying, if you decide to be prudent and land the plane rather than brave the worsening weather, you never know what would have happened. You might have been perfectly safe.

But in markets, you get to see what would have happened. With a catch: The deceptive part being that you don't know how you would have reacted along the way. "I could have been up 50% if I'd just bought the index in early March!" Except that if you had bought the index, you might have sold to capture the first 15%.


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