The phone rang in the middle of the night. Not knowing if it was important I got up to answer it just
as everyone else would. The voice at the other end was a familiar one.
“I believe that John Denver’s biography is going to be the most important biography of this year. If
not the most important surely one of the important.”
“Art, I was just doing some thinking on John Denver’s accident. He touched millions of lives as
well as yours and mine. I can relate to that accident. ” Phantom told me.
“You called me in the middle of the night to tell me this?” I asked.
Phantom explained, “I know how our traders can relate to John’s accident too. Of course there are
those people who he never touched or who didn’t even know who he was.”
“This is so important to me. Maybe it is more important to me than anyone. It is important because I
always have had timing as my friend in my trading career.”
“Traders will have to face in their trading career what John had to face in his last flight. I just don’t
ever want our traders to ever have to face that last flight in trading. I have to make them understand
one very important point in their trading. Somewhere along their path they will face an unexpected
event that can take them out of trading if they don’t prepare for that eventuality in their trading.”
Phantom continued to convince me but I already knew Phantom was expert at timing.
When you get a phone call at 2 a.m. in the morning you can almost know it must be from a friend.
Why else would someone call at that hour and awaken you from deep sleep? As I answered the
phone I could see this call from Phantom was not just to me but also to Phantom’s trader friends.
“Art, I must ask you to address three aircraft accidents!” It’s John’s, the latest one in the article your
brother sent you and the one I was in. I never could make anything out of the aircraft accident but it
has to do with life and in trading too. It is important that we warn our traders of needing to be
prepared for all possibilities. I have searched for some kind of answer from John’s accident and my
accident in the past. Not until I read the last accident of the Doctor who’s aircraft landed itself after
carbon monoxide poisoning in the cockpit did I realized the similarities to trading and how it is
Phantom continued, ” It does have to do with trading Art! When you wrote about God’s rules you
never really understood fully why it was such a difficult time for me. I went through the same
process in my aircraft accident as with John’s. We survived and we had altitude to recover and to
make a decision. John didn’t have that altitude and couldn’t make a decision. He had to take what
was given. The Doctor wasn’t even in the decision process because of his condition.”
“Three accidents and they all had different results. The Doctor had no choice and when he lost
consciousness because of the carbon monoxide in his aircraft, he still survived because he ran out of
gas. John’s had what appears to be fuel and a fuel value problem and he lost his life. Our engine
failed and we had time to work the fuel tank valve and get the aircraft on the ground where we
wanted because we had altitude. We were able to make a choice of where to land. John didn’t have a
choice. The Doctor’s aircraft landed by itself and he survived. These three accidents are all the same
accident with different circumstances.”
“Can’t you see what I am getting at Art? Trading has the same conditions”
I remembered seeing Phantom’s post on “Futures” talk forum to Randy about the fuel valve over a
month ago and had thought little about it until now. I began to see Phantom’s thought on the three
aircraft accidents. There are times when the market hasn’t given you enough altitude to be able to
recover. At other times you have enough altitude on your position to make a good landing choice
when the market goes wrong. And there are times when you have no control on where you are
going to land or how because it is out of your hands. Yes, it makes sense that Phantom would call at
two in the morning.
Phantom never pulled rank on anyone and never considered himself better than anyone. He has
always been a gentleman and perfect example of what you would expect of a hero. Why should I
hesitate to let him impress his thoughts on his friends? He wishes to save as much grief of trading to
his trader friends as he can. I can not question the unconventional thinking about the accidents and
trading as my thinking is pretty unconventional at times too.
We shall convey the insight for you on the three aircraft accidents and allow you to question if you
feel it appropriate.
Phantom rarely ever said anything about an aircraft accident in his life but it always bothered him.
In John’s accident he was presented with an aircraft accident not easily accepted. Now out of the
blue sky an accident where there is no logical reason the pilot, a Doctor, could have survived but
did. Phantom surely has gathered reasoning for all of this. He has been right in his useful insight on
events over his trading career. Why not now too?
Events in life have a lot to do with trading. Could it be too that trading has a lot to do with survival
in life? “Ok Phantom,” I said. ” We can start the chapter while it is most importantly on your mind
at this early hour. Where would you want to start?”
Phantom indicated he would just tape his thoughts and let me take them and make out of them what
seemed to be the message like we had on his insight in this project. I agreed and went back to bed.
You can know that Phantom didn’t sleep that night and kept the midnight oil burning. I guess there
is a time and place for all thought. We must let it flow and not restrict thought at those times. That
point is another Phantom has taught me.
Phantom felt the three airplane accidents reflected clearly similar uncontrollable events in trading
just as in the accidents. We’ll see just how they compare.
The three accidents Phantom was talking about were John Denver’s, a pilot who is a Doctor and
Phantoms accident. The Doctor’s aircraft landed in Missouri on it’s own when running out of fuel
while the Doctor was unconscious. The aircraft accident Phantom was involved in was at greater
than 5000 feet altitude when the aircraft engine quit.
In John Denver’s accident there were two pieces of information, which Phantom was disturbed
about in the accident. Before the flight took place, John had borrowed a pair of vice grip pliers in
order to turn the fuel selector valve. The fuel selector valve was not in the correct place below his
right hand on the floor of the aircraft but over and above the left shoulder behind him. This required
him to take his right hand from the flight stick in order to turn the valve, which was difficult to
The most disturbing aspect of John’s accident was that his problems occurred with less than 500 feet
of altitude. Thought time in the emergency situation didn’t exist, as actions had to be second nature.
Since John had few hours in the aircraft, second nature reaction with such little time wouldn’t have
allowed recovery in time.
The Doctor’s accident, which Phantom referred, happened as the pilot was overcome by carbon
monoxide, which entered the aircraft because of a faulty exhaust system.
The aircraft was on autopilot when the Doctor lost consciousness from the CO (carbon monoxide.)
He was flying to Topeka, Kansas from the west and instead of a 150 mile trip made over a 300 mile
trip to the Moberly, Missouri area as the plane ran out of gas. Surprisingly it landed with the
autopilot engaged and the pilot unconscious.
The Doctor walked away with only a broken arm. Had the fuel on board been enough to fly another
half-hour the CO level in his blood would have been 50 parts per million rather than the 35-ppm.
He would never have lived. Had the terrain been different the aircraft could have crashed instead of
landing on its own.
The third aircraft incident occurred to Phantom and he never wanted to talk of it before. At about
5500 feet altitude the aircraft engine stopped. Phantom’s explanation of the accident was that it
required an immediate decision and that was where to land. The altitude gave comfort in allowing
good amount of time for a good decision of where to land.
In two of the three accidents everyone survived. . The two aircraft made landings without loss of
life. . While the two aircraft had control in landing, one pilot wasn’t conscious but still survived. In
the other airplane accident, the safest aircraft, John’s lost his life. The loss of life was in the aircraft,
which had the lowest altitude and least amount of time for reaction and corrective action.
All three were unexpected and all had different outcomes because of circumstances beyond control
of what the pilot could do. It was these situations and different outcomes that Phantom wanted to
discuss as it relates to trading.
Phantom never had any value of learning from the accident that he was in as he always wondered
what reason or purpose it pointed him to in his life. He always felt other people’s thinking of a
person who is in an accident is that somehow they are to blame. As I see the way John was treated
in the news media when he lost his life, I understand Phantom’s view. Others do often look for
blame rather than answers.
Phantom has always looked for an answer in his airplane accident. He has found some answers to
uncontrollable events in life and in trading. To relate the three aircraft accidents to uncontrollable
events in trading, Phantom gave me his explanation.
In our lives and in our trading lives we come upon a situation sooner or later where we have little or
no control. We must at all times plan for that time. When a pilot learns to fly they are always
practicing emergency landings. In trading we must practice those same landings.
Depending on the exact situation, we shall at times end up with entirely different results even
though the situation may repeat itself again and again. We of course want the best result but there
are times we don’t control the result.
In your first situation as you take a trade, there is a time when it is just as if you took off from an
airport and don’t have a comfortable altitude. This is the time when the trade has not really been
proved to be a correct position yet. At this time an unexpected event can have it’s worst result in
your trading. You have to take what you can get for a landing spot due to the lack of altitude.
The second situation is when a trade becomes a proven correct position. It is similar to being at a
higher altitude in an aircraft. If an unexpected event takes place you have a more comfortable
choice and can make a better decision due to the extra lead, which is also similar to picking out a
better landing, spot. In this situation you are in control of keeping the trade from being a total
disaster. You land in a clearing.
The third situation for a trader, which parallels the three aircraft accidents, is that you are on you
way with comfortable altitude and are on autopilot. There are no problems with your position. All
of a sudden your trade is taken out of your control. Several events can cause this. Consider some of
them such as your phone line goes dead. You get delayed on your transportation and can’t get
communications to your broker. Your quote machine goes dead. A big report comes out and the
market locks limit before you can even get an order into the pits. All of these are the same as losing
consciousness due to CO in the cockpit as you fly to your destination. Nothing you can do will
change the result as the result is going to deal you what it will.
The trades with the best altitude or lead allow you the best opportunity to recover from a bad or
unexpected event. A lot of traders expect their trades to show this lead and do nothing when they
don’t show the lead that they need. They allow the market to take them out and prove that they are
wrong. To be taken out by the market when proven wrong opens up much more disaster than many
traders ever imagine.
At all times you must understand that the surprise and unexpected event will create a worse
situation than you are prepared to face. You must practice your emergency landings. You can
recover from good positions. You will not recover from bad positions in unexpected situations.
Just as the Doctor’s airplane landed itself you will have times when you luck out. After all a broken
arm is much better than a lost life. Traders are the in the only profession I know where they are
happy when the market gives them back half of their loss. When you get back half of your loss you
have just seen your airplane land itself on autopilot as it ran out of gas.
Phantom indicated that the most critical time of a trade is immediately when you have just entered
the position. This is the time you must be most sensitive to news and events. How many traders are
most comfortable upon entry because they know they are protected by stops? How many surprises
are there in trading? How about the time the unemployment report was a surprise and your stop
gave you the biggest slippage you ever thought was possible? Listen to Phantom! It happens.
Don’t let an unproven position set you up for a downfall.
Phantom asked why is it so difficult for traders to understand that bad trades get worse? They get
worse until the unexpected takes place. The unexpected is always your downfall in a bad position
getting worse. Get a lead on your trades or throw them out.
Phantom wanted you to understand part of his distress in John’s accident and death. He wants the
best for you. Can you relate to the three accidents and your trading? Make out of it what you can.
Phantom intended it as a way to ask his trader friends to be prepared for any possible event in your
” I believe that John Denver’s biography is going to be the most important biography of this year. If
not the most important surely one of the important.”—POP