How Pilots Intuitively Make Critical Decisions

Making timely and correct decisions is an important part of many jobs, but few professions require this skill at the level of a pilot flying a large, transport category airplane. While it’s true that a surgeon’s decisions have a life and death weight to them, they are usually made dealing with one life at a time and without the split-second timing required of a pilot at V1 during a balanced field takeoff. Likewise, a police officer may have to make a critical split-second decision, but probably only a few times throughout a decades-long career. By contrast, a pilot might face dozens of such decisions in just one winter season of operations in the Northeastern U.S. Then, too, there are dozens of foggy nights in which two or perhaps three white lights masquerading as a runway beckon the pilot to land but allow a mere second to decide the fate of all on board.

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Matthew Fritz is a leader and mentor in the field of complex organizational change, emotional intelligence, and organization strategy. A successful DoD senior-acquisition program manager and test leader, Matt has earned documented success in the areas of test and evaluation, assessment, technology development and flight operations. He has specialized experience in cost, schedule and performance management and is an active duty Field-Grade Officer with command-experience in the United States Air Force. Matt is also a certified acquisition professional, as well as a certified Emotional Intelligence Trainer/Practitioner. He is the Author of an instructional book entitled, “Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile for Success” and actively blogs with other military leaders at, as well as his personal blog at He and his wife, Stacy, enjoy life with their daughter and son in New Mexico.

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