Podcasts for pilots

This is an update as at February 2022 following some very helpful aviation podcast suggestions from Dain Cairns, Par Avion Instructor and Flight Examiner at Cambridge, Tasmania. Dain's suggestions for aviation specific podcasts are:

  • Flight Training Australia by Trent Robinson (https://www.flighttrainingaustralia.com.au/)
  • The CASA Briefing Podcast (https://soundcloud.com/casabriefing)
  • The Merge (about military aviation) at https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-merge/id1579183816

In the category of science recommendations, Dain recommends the Dr Karl Kruszelicki podcast (https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/dr-karl-podcast/)

To be really spoilt for choice, you may also like to visit some of the meta-lists of aviation podcasts like https://blog.feedspot.com/aviation_podcasts/ but bear in mind they will mostly have a USA and international focus.

My one aviation podcast nomination that is a stand-out, purely for inspiration, remains the Richard Fidler interview with Bob Tait on Conversations. You can find this at: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-bob-tait/8622762

Non-aviation list of podcasts (that are still relevant for aviation)

The first notable mention on my list is David McRaney's 'You are not so smart' podcast. This is a fun and engaging way to understand our capability and our fallibility as humans. David has many interesting and accomplished guests ranging from behavioural scientists, psychologists to neuroscientists. Some of the insights may be familiar for those pilots who have studied human factors but I am sure there is much that pilots, even those with this understanding, would gain from these podcasts. For instance, it is extraordinary for pilots, relying as we do on our depth perception, that this is entirely created in our mind (depth of field isn't communicated from the retina).

A recent edition of this podcast highlights that dreams are a way to protect the visual cortex from other parts of the brain that may wish to co-opt these processing resources for their benefit, as would occur when our eyes are closed at night. There is also a fascinating episode on the famous wedding dress photo from 2015 (is it black and blue or white and gold photo). For pilots interested in how we perceive colour, this is a very engaging episode with many interesting plot twists. David McRaney's podcast is highly recommended.

How frequently do we hear the saying '...get back on your horse again'. For pilots, it might follow a poor outcome in a flight test or a flight review. In Episode 24 of the next recommended Podcast, Pholosophize This' we hear of the French Philosopher, Michelle de Montaigne (1533-92). Michelle was plagued with terrible anxiety for much of his life until he had a traumatic experience that left him close to death: he fell off his horse. In so doing he survived a near-death experience and would go on to establish an influential school of philosophy. Despite the absence of aircraft through the vast history of philosophy, many of the emotions (and the human conditions) we experience as pilots are the same as those that philosophers have sought to understand and explain.

The 'Philosophize This' podcasts also give us a perspective on privilege. How extraordinary is the privilege of flight. After thousands of years of human evolution and thinking, we are in a small window of history where flight is possible. The community of pilots in this window of time are a very tiny proportion of the world's population who have been enabled to gain the privilege of a license to fly. To add to the sense of privilege, we also live towards the end of a period in which the atmosphere has been treated as an unlimited 'sink' to dispose of emissions. This can't continue but the pathway forward to make an orderly transition to an alternative is far from clear. Philosophy may yet help us to come up with solutions where, up to now, economics and politics are yet to make real progress. Stephen West's 'Philosophize This' podcast is also highly recommended.

The next recommendation is the website 'clearerthinking.org'. It is full of resources to improve our clarity of thinking as people, irrespective of profession or circumstances. For instance, you might wish to undertake the quiz and course on how rational a thinker you are. You may also wish to undertake the course to learn how to spot deceptive arguments. Given how pilots are typically goal orientated people, you may also appreciate the short course on achieving your goals. ClearerThinking's mission is to close the gap between insights from research about human behavior and actions in the real world using best-in-class, interactive tools and mini-courses that you can use to change your habits, make better decisions, and achieve your goals. Just the trick for pilots I'd suggest.

The next offering comes from the online course provider, Coursera. I found a course called 'Learning how to learn', which is full of great tips and techniques for improving learning efficiency and outcomes. For any pilot committed to continuing improvement, this course has much to offer but it would be particularly helpful for those just starting their aviation studies.