Book review : Be Your Own Pilot by Sqn. Ldr. Manish Kumar (Retd.)

The beautiful, giant, man-made bird (airplane) in the sky fascinates us all. Remember, as a child we would all love to stop and stare at the sight of the magnanimous object heralding its wings strong and steady in the sky. Even today, it feels joyful and thrilling to see or experience the take-offs and the landings.  But how many times do we bother to think or appreciate the one who flies it and is responsible for the safety of the on-board passengers? Seldom!

Yes! we all know that there is a pilot who controls it all inside the cockpit. But what goes into mastering the skills, lets delve into the pages of the book ‘Be your Own Pilot’.

Through this book, the author has used metaphor of flight to remind us that our own life is our personal flight and we must recognize our powers to take off high in life.  He has rightly said that there is a need to awaken our strengths and believe in them strongly. Single-minded focus and determination have a long way to go in our life. With the simple tale of a young boy who wishes to be a pilot, the author inspires the readers to discover the power of four words “I have the controls”.

This weekend when I flew from New Delhi to Kochi to New Delhi, several instances from the above book which I had finished reading a couple of weeks ago came reminding me. This was my first air journey since the completion of it and I was surprised to find that a lot had stayed back in my mind from the book. While the day flight made me thoughtful about the art, precision, dedication, altitude, attitude required for flying as mentioned in the book, the night flight in the shaky weather played back the chapter ‘I am Lost’. I had a perturbing thought in my mind but just then I was reminded- ‘Not to panic’.  The small observations from our surroundings had so much to teach us and inspire us in our day to day life.

If you thought the book is about flying and mastering the skills, I must tell you no it isn’t about this. The book is about achieving big and grabbing accomplishments in life. A simple but ambitious story of a young man who dreams to fly tells us that instead of surrendering our lives to autopilot mode (destiny), taking ownership of our life is the most essential thing. The books say aim, dream, set goals (Idealize), work bravely, efficiently with undivided focus (Visualize) and leave no stone unturned to achieve them in real. (Realize).


The book is assembled in sixteen chapters. Through the life of an aspiring pilot and the great lessons that he learns during his course of the training, the author instills in us the courage, passion and strength to pursue our individual dreams. Through each chapter he speaks of  an important lesson of life.  There were many instances within the story that talked about failure, doubts, panic, dream, over-confidence and  I felt I could relate to them very closely. There is something for everyone in this book rather there is more than one thing to learn and imbibe. This isn’t one of the monotonous self help book that play the same tune throughout the pages, this is different because many small and interesting lessons have been put together to put forth a strong message.

What stands for the book is that it has a very positive approach and its written in a very simple and sorted language. More it doesn’t preach ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ but makes you think around, introspect and reflect on life.

The first chapter ‘I have the controls’ reiterates the fact that to fulfill a dream, one needs to have a dogged and persistent pursuit of the dream. Second says, ‘Release your brakes for Take-off’. The hesitation must be gone once the proper checks and rechecks are done. We have to lay off our inhibitions. In life, our attitude matters a lot. Basically it is the attitude that determines our altitude. While the young boy undergoes trainings to master the art of flying, the most important thing his instructors teach him is that a pilot had to control each and every parameter-height, speed, direction, bank and it was all about balance. Through the chapters on Flight of the Ego and Sapna, My dream, the author reminds us of simple and beautiful things of life. Further he explains that ego makes you fall. ‘I am Lost’ and  ‘A lesson in Humility’ are very inspiring pieces in the book. By the time one comes to the last chapter, the reader feels enriched not only with simplistic thoughts on life but also with empowering teachings of some of the great writers, philosophers and teachers.


Inspiring take-aways from the book…

‘You are not given a dream without the power to achieve it.’

‘The most important thing is to do the process of IVR without an iota of doubt in your mind. If you believe it will happen, it is sure to happen.’

‘IVR-Idealise, Visualise, Realise’

There is a difference between change and transformation. ‘Transformation’ is a permanent change.


Let me know how can we inspire ourselves and each other to take control of our destiny.

The best answers will win the above book from the Author.

Written by

Manjulika Pramod

An engineer who loves to be called a blogger more!
Traveler, short-story writer, voracious reader, foodie is the better me!
Reading, eating, traveling, exploring, observing and blogging are the beautiful highs of my life.