A Fighter Pilot’s Guide to Surviving on the Roads

As part of our “Improve Your Road Riding Skills” level 1 course we look at the System of Motorcycle Control that is at the heart of advanced riding. The first phase of this system is concerned with Information – the taking, using and giving of information to help form a riding plan. When researching ways to explain to riders how we take information in, particularly visual information, I encountered this excellent article written by John Sullivan.

John is a fighter pilot and keen cyclist. He’s also a motorcyclist so understands the situations we encounter and in particular the SMIDSY – the classic “Sorry Mate, Didn’t See You” type of accident where a driver pulls out in front of an unsuspecting motorcyclist. He used his knowledge of how fighter pilots are trained to spot enemy aircraft in the vast, featureless expanse of sky to pull together some thought provoking advice for his fellow cyclists and motorcyclists.

I’ve now used his ideas many times when teaching others, as well as helping to improve my own observation skills. I recommend you get a brew on, sit down and read this article several times. Then think long and hard about how you are looking but not seeing as much as you thought! And spare a thought for that poor motorist making the SMIDSY mistake – they looked but didn’t see either. So should you really be “unsuspecting”?

Road Survival Guide

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