A fighter pilot accelerating down the runway on an operational mission must keep foremost in his mind one reality: At some point before his wheels touch down again, something is certain to go wrong. Will he have engine failure? Will an unseen enemy appear? Will another plane in his formation experience a crisis of some kind? Bank on it: Something unexpected will happen. When it does, it will be followed almost always by a second emergency, and often a third, in immediate succession, each one producing a graver crisis than the one before. In each situation, the pilot's body will exhibit all the manifestations of fear. His heart rate will soar; his flight overalls will become drenched in swear. But his mind must remain focused. His thinking must stay clear and calm.
Why do we train? To perfect our flying skills, yes. But far more important, we practice to elevator our threshold of emotional detachment, to inculcate that state of preparedness and equilibrium that enables a pilot to function effectively under conditions of peril, urgency, and confusion.