Throughout the course of our lives, we all face hardships that are unique to us, many of which we don’t share with many people.
Sometimes, these moments damage us to the point where we have a hard time seeing the silver lining. Other times, they provide us with an epiphany, an “A-ha!” moment we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.
And then there are moments, or situations that happen again, and again, and again until the lesson really sinks in.
These are the moments that oftentimes end up defining us and illuminate our path forward in life.
For Dave Moore, a speaker, author, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force pilot, those lessons came in the form of a series of incidents that no one could have ever predicted: four plane crashes, each of which taught him several difficult lessons — and ultimately forged him into the person he is today.
Recently Moore, a dedicated aviator who has flown into hurricanes for the Coast Guard and lived to tell about it, decided to join AltHealthWorks.com for an interview on surviving trauma, seeing through the fog that it brings into our lives, and emerging stronger than ever, despite the scars we accumulate along the way.
AHW: Hi Dave, thank you for joining us.
What made you want to become a pilot at such a young age, and what was the most challenging part of getting started down that path?
DM: The easiest way to explain my desire for aviation at a young age was that aviation was in my blood.
My story is not a story about aviation or the military, but these passions are the catalyst that allowed me to uncover real life solutions to face seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Anyone who can uncover or find a purpose at a young age will achieve and accomplish well outside their ‘education’ or ‘abilities’ just knowing what they want. So many people wander through life cloaked in mediocracy because they have not uncovered their passion.
The most challenging part of getting started, as the son of a postman, was finding the funds. I worked since I was 14 years old, saved my own money and paid for my passion. At the time, airline jobs were hard to come by.
My dad would tell me that there were U.S. Air pilots working the French fry machine at McDonald’s, basically that I was wasting my time and money pursuing this.
When you know what you want, you need to approach with laser-point focus and put blinders on to the naysayers, no matter who they are, and go for what you are trusting in your gut is the right path.
AHW: What can you tell me about your first plane crash. Was it something you ever expected to happen? Was it painful? Did your life flash before your eyes?
DM: There is so much to say about the lessons learned from my first plane crash, it’s hard to write it all in this one article.
I can tell you for certain, that I never in a million years thought something like this would happen to me.
“Most survivors of un-survivable accidents will tell you, in my own experience and from meeting others, that you never think this will happen to you.
“The beauty of a major life event like this, when handled properly, is you come out on the other side as a completely new person with an absolute new perspective on life.”
Unfortunately, there is a tremendous amount of overcoming yourself that has to happen along that journey and my goal is to help others skip a decade or two of the dark fight to learning and overcoming these lessons, understanding the tools needed to combat and how to commit to leading yourself for the one life you are given and making it your best life.
The physical pain is obvious that I went through, but as the bones heal and the surgeon put my face back together to look better than before I crashed I have realized the fight had not even begun.
‘Facing My Own Mortality’
At age 23, I was faced with a mid-life crisis having to face my own mortality. Not something we usually consider at a young age, luckily I was young, strong and eager to fight to get right so I could accomplish my passion of aviation.
This drive is what brings me to you, as it gave me a no-fail option that I would uncover the secrets to healing post traumatic stress and turning it into what I call post-traumatic growth.
This, after many years of combating everything laid on me from this life even taught me a very important lesson: I realized that you can break a bone, but nothing can break your soul unless you allow it.
For my life flashing before my eyes, I believe more than that happened. I believe I died that night and came back a completely new person. Whether it happened metaphorically, or in reality is insignificant because the change and what I discovered that could possibly help others makes this part of the story irrelevant.
AHW: You managed to overcome your fear of flying again. You’ve had three more plane crashes. Looking back, are you at all surprised about this?
DM: Yes! After two years out of the cockpit taking the initial time to get myself just to re-enter the cockpit, I probably would have not pursued aviation knowing what was to come.
What a loss that would had been, knowing all the great adventures I have gotten to live, the amazing missions I have flown, the friendships I have made and the personal growth I have received by pursuing this passion; fearlessly.
I used to get on stage and proclaim that “I always knew there would be a third one, but now I am all done.”
Since my fourth incident, it was the key to me re-understanding exactly what the first ‘C’ of Uncrashable Leadership that I speak on is about:
The crashes of life will come. And you have a lot less control than you think.
So even at this stage of tremendous growth in my life, I am still learning.
It just reinforces why I give my 3 ‘Cs’ of uncrushable leadership to help others overcome all obstacles they face in life, daily, not life and death but the battles of life we constantly need to face and fight.
It has given me the childlike excitement to wonder again what today will bring, live in expectation and passion knowing I have built myself so strong that whatever comes it will turn out for the good of Dave Moore, and nothing will crush my soul or my fighting spirit.
AHW: How do people react when you tell them about your history of crashes, and what do you think were the mistakes that led to them happening?
DM: Most react in the same way, “Loved your talk but don’t be offended if I ever get on an airplane, see you upfront and get off.”
I am a very safe pilot, believe it or not! A crew member who flew with me in the Coast Guard would say to me, “Mr. Moore, if I am ever in a crash on the Falcon Jet I want you upfront.”
I have had a lot of exciting situations outside of my crashes, and a fellow pilot down in Miami would say, “if it’s going to happen, it will happen when Dave is in the cockpit.” I found this to be a good thing, because my abilities and skills as an aviator I had mastered and are top notch.
I was promoted to positions of authority over the pilot groups accordingly.
This leads us to your next question. Like a 3 year old who says “it wasn’t me,” my crashes were really not me:
1st crash: Hit a deer on takeoff, at night never saw it and just as we were getting airborne. Classified by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) as an Act of God.
2nd crash: Refueling a C-130 (a large transport aircraft used by the Air Force and Coast Guard) on a training mission, the C-130 ran into the back of our KC-135 smashing the boom up into the aircraft and missed taking our tail off by a few feet.
Our crew was given a safety award by our unit for our response.
3rd crash: Took a Honda Jet off the runway at Nashville international. The manufacturer tried claiming it was all my fault, so I said okay and took full responsibility.
The FAA (federal aviation administration) investigated the accident and said, it “takes a real man of integrity to step up and take responsibility like that. Guys like you just don’t run off the runway.”
It was a failed seal on a new aircraft design that allowed moisture into the nose wheel control box and that moisture would mess up the electronic impulse to the airplane and it would turn the nose hard left un-commanded. The manufacturer has since hired new leadership in the shop and fixed the seal.
4th crash: Nose wheel separated from the airplane after landing.
This only supports my 3 ‘Cs’ of uncrushable leadership, we have little control over what life is going to throw at us today, we have all the control of how we handle the situation; learn from it and grow as a person both personally and professionally.
AHW: Were there any turning point type of moments that led you to get back in the pilot’s seat again during your journey? And if so, can you describe one of them to us?
DM: It took me:
- Two years to fly again after my first crash.
- Two weeks to fly again after my second crash.
- Two days to fly again after my third crash.
- Two seconds and I was ready to fly again after my fourth crash.
I actually wanted ‘selfies’ at the plane after we knew there was no fire.
Getting back into the fight of life is so important. We either get really good at winning, or really good at losing.
The largest first step of overcoming myself and my self-imposed limitations was after the first accident. Completely paralyzed in fear, uncertainty and doubting if I was actually mentally handicapped, as who I was had changed so much it was no easy feat to continue on.
After closing a successful, large sale working as an account executive, the excitement was short lived.
I was driving down the road and I looked up into the sky and said, “Dave, what are you doing? You are a pilot and need to get back up in that sky!”
DM (continued): I went out to a local flight school where I had originally started my training and earned my private pilot’s license.
I was respected as a pilot before my crash, and was really good at what I did.
The results were not what I expected after two years. I actually rolled the simulator over and crashed, making me realize that not only do I need to work on my mental challenges of overcoming myself, my proficiency as a pilot had been completely lost.
Getting back in the saddle by completely focusing was paying off. I was getting good at my craft again, as I had my instructor license reinstated after passing my check ride again with an FAA designated examiner.
I found myself working three times as hard as everyone else, because now instead of sitting back and ‘enjoying the ride,’ I now said ‘what if’ about every situation and possible scenario. This was an obvious fallout from my initial crash, realizing that all could change on a dime at no fault of your own.
The result: I was tired after every flight, but my knowledge base and expertise grew exponentially as my head was focused on every scenario and how I would handle it.
The twists and turns of life gave me a strong desire to enlist in the Coast Guard as a pilot.
The satisfaction of saving another human’s life, combined with the challenge of going to Navy Flight school to compete against the best in the world would truly allow me to prove to myself I was not mentally handicapped and would force me to challenge and overcome myself.
Being accepted to Coast Guard OCS (Officer Candidate School) and earning a slot to go to Navy Flight school did just this.
Graduating at the top of my class, I was probably the only student naval aviator competing against themselves rather than their peers.
Graduation and being pinned with those Wings of Gold proved to myself that I had accomplished the first step of becoming an ‘Uncrashable Leader,’ and that I was not mentally handicapped but fully capable of taking ‘new Dave’ on a spin towards a better version of me.
AHW: You have a system that helps people overcome their fears. Can you tell us a little bit about it, and maybe one or two practical ways people can start down that path to conquering their own fears?
DM: I have created the three C’s of Uncrashable Leadership:
- The Crashes of life will come
- How to Combat the Crashes
- Committing to Self Leadership
I am able to condense 30 years of gained knowledge and help others use these tools in their own lives to accomplish what they desire. I have personally used my methods of overcoming outside of aviation.
I led my life to the top of corporate America in different industries and then found success in entrepreneurship.
I am able to deliver these three C’s in a keynote that are worth your time, but let me leave you with two things:
Overcoming ‘crashes’ or obstacles that occur in life both personally and professionally, whether mental, physical or emotional takes a great deal of energy.
So first, ask yourself:
- Why do you think this is the problem?
- Why are you afraid of it?
- Why do you want to solve it?
The more you ask the questions about the problem, the better you can name the problem and understand it.
Oftentimes we actually misdiagnose the problem we are trying to solve.
For instance, I was never really afraid of flying, I was afraid of dying!
Until I understood the problem I was trying to solve, I was not able to overcome it.
AHW: This is a health website and we talk a lot about foods and supplements. As a pilot, how is nutrition important to you, and are there any foods, supplements, or general health tips you’d recommend for your specific lifestyle?
DM: Whether I was working as a pilot in the military, corporate pilot or in sales on the road it all comes down to the same for your health – A balance for mind, body and soul start with morning exercise including both cardio and weight training.
Eating is 90% of your health.
What works for me is Intermittent Fasting (IF) based on a high protein diet while avoiding processed foods.
I think each of us are unique and need to find what works best for our respective bodies.
I typically take a vegan probiotic, because regardless of how nutrient-dense my food intake is, I believe in a little extra too in order to stay on track.
Check out a speech from Dave in the video player below:
Thanks so much for reading, and thanks to Dave Moore for joining us for this interview! If you’d like to learn more, visit Dave’s website at MooreMotivated.com. Dave is available for Keynote Speaking, 1-on-1 Coaching and more.