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the thrill of flying interview is here!
A liberal response to what I've read...
There's no denying what you experienced. If you were thrilled by
something, then that's what happened - whether it was planned or came
from a surprise.
Whether it was appropriate OR how you handled it is a question for
debate. I've really learned something from reading your discussion.
Understanding these moments is important to my research (and to being
a successful pilot I would imagine).
Whether I should be asking these questions here... I can see that in a
student forum (where the training is in minimising the potential for
thrill, and at worst how to cope with it if it does happen) my
original questioning looks like it extols the virtues of thrill. For
me to fully understand how thrills happen, it's also vital to
understand how they are negated. In this instance through serious long
hard repetitive training and the accumulation of experience.
There is a difference between "thrill seeking" - actually looking to
be thrilled which I see can get you killed as a pilot ; and
"appreciating thrill" - which is about acknowledging it's existence
and learning to cope with it's affects.
I'm not a thrill seeker, and even though the thrill ride industry is
where the money's at - I'm not driven by their stereotypical notion of
what constitutes thrill. My research is equally applicable to
increasing emotional experiences in architecture. I'm interested in
controlling the existence of thrill NOT seeking to constantly "push it
to the max".
I've been particularly interested in the development of remotely
piloted fighter aircraft where the pilots were underperforming because
of their diminished levels of arousal (being sat on the ground and not
in the air). In this research NASA is seeking to actually raise levels
of arousal to increase performance, not reduce it.
I trained as an aeronautical engineer and worked for British Aerospace
Military Aircraft for 5 years during the early 90's working on Tornado
ADV's, Hawk 200's and the Eurofighter (now called Typhoon). I don't
fly, but I'm familiar with test pilots, and also ejector seat
experiments (worked for a short while with Martin Baker). I left and
studied as an Industrial Design Engineer and now work part time as a
research fellow in the Interaction Design department at the Royal
College of Art. Another branch of my research is working with
scientists from MIT to develop a system to objectively sense the
emotion of thrill, which could have implications to safety systems.
The particular research I'm conducting here is wholly SUBJECTIVE. I
only have my own experiences to draw on. This is an exercise in trying
to understand someone else's emotions, then attempting to faithfully
replicate these in a machine. The machine is a by-product, an end
focus - HOWEVER developing a process to dissect and understand what
thrills us and how; that's the real challenge to this research! As
this research is subjective, an arts grant was appropriate. Other more
objective work I've done in the past has been funded by science and
This has been the most active group I've approached with my questions.
The invitation to be interview still stands. Remember it's from the
perspective that I am interested in you as an individual, and your
capacity to be thrilled. NOT about classifying pilots as thrill
seekers. Because my work concentrates primarily on thrill, and not the
activity (e.g. flying) that elicited the emotion, it may appear
flippant. I hope I've convinced you that this research is serious.
That all said, you've already provided an absolutely huge resource of
opinions, which I'm very grateful for. What's missing are expanded
personal stories that capture the essence of what you say in a format
that is easily comparable to other people's experiences. Those who
feel they can help explain themselves further, then please take the
interview. Everyone else, thank you for such a fantastic discussion.
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