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Advice From Amelia: How to Identify a Strong Co-pilot and Crew for Your Journey

Two kites flying in sky

This post is the third in a series by around-the-world pilot and motivational speaker Amelia Rose Earhart on behalf of Virginia College.

In my opinion, a second set of eyes on a project is always a good thing. While some may advocate the determination and independence of going it alone, I’m a believer that the perspective of others should always be considered, even if it doesn’t represent the direction you ultimately choose.

When faced with challenges during my around the world flight, my co-pilot Shane and I shared our thoughts, fears and options before making any big decisions. From in-depth weather discussions about storm formation and the impact of head and tailwinds, to making decisions based on our combined flight ability, I trusted Shane to both reel me back in when I was overconfident and encourage me when I was feeling less than prepared.

1) Your co-pilot should be able to help you decide if it’s time to escalate or de-escalate a situation.

When the stress of completing your diploma or degree and the responsibilities of balancing life and work take over, your response may be to freeze up or overreact. Talking with someone can help you find new ideas or see things from a different perspective. Shane was invaluable when it came to helping me keep my priorities straight during the most stressful portion of the trip. Across Africa and the South Pacific, I was constantly fearful that I wasn’t posting enough to social media, writing enough, or taking enough video to share with those following the flight. Shane reminded me that sleep was the number one priority and all the tasks I was overwhelmed by would suffer if I stayed up to do things that were never actually required as a part of the trip.

A great co-pilot isn’t always on your side. A great co-pilot does always have your best interest at heart.

2) Your co-pilot should support you, but not unconditionally.

A great co-pilot isn’t always on your side. A great co-pilot does always have your best interest at heart. No one is perfect. We all make decisions that have negative consequences; this is how we gain an understanding of how much we can handle along our flight path. However, that second set of eyes can help us avoid making the mistake in the first place, often saving time, energy and heartache. When building your flight crew, seek those who listen well and who aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re out of line or stressing for no reason.

3) Your co-pilot should provide a reality check when stress takes over.

Acting out of impulse during times of increased pressure can leave us cleaning up our own mess. Our reactions to either pull back or overreact stem from fear of what could happen, with an emphasis on “could”. Tapping the breaks on runaway thoughts can be as simple as checking in with a co-pilot who has gone through a similar situation and come out just fine. A great co-pilot can help press the pause button, help you look around, ground your fears and get your journey back on track.

The decision to work as a team is ultimately why the around the world flight was a success. Not only does having a co-pilot allow you to take multiple perspectives toward challenges, it also gives you someone to thank upon completion of your goal. Teamwork is a beautiful thing and there’s no shame in asking for help in times of turbulence.

About Amelia Rose Earhart

Named by the Jaycees as one of the “Top Ten Young Americans”, Amelia Rose Earhart recreated and symbolically completed the 1937 flight of her namesake, Amelia Mary Earhart. Her 28,000-mile flight around the world in a single engine aircraft, the Pilatus PC-12NG, became a symbol of determination, courage and empowerment for anyone who has ever decided to seek new horizons.

Amelia is the president of the Fly With Amelia Foundation, a non-profit providing flight training scholarships to young women across America. She can be seen each morning on Denver’s NBC affiliate, KUSA-TV reporting on breaking news and traffic, is an active member of the Board of Directors at Wings Over the Rockies, Colorado’s Official Air and Space Museum, and is currently working toward her multi-engine aircraft rating. Amelia produces a weekly segment on STEM Education, which can be enjoyed each Friday on Denver’s NBC TV station.