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In Search of the Perfect Co-Pilot

Last Updated: 11th Oct 2010

By Joe Mulvey

In Search of the Perfect Co-Pilot

My typical mineral collecting trip is usually launched with very short notice based upon the last second catastrophic failure of other pre-scheduled events that consume all of my available time. Somewhere between home and a mysterious lost mineral locality 120 miles away I find myself wishing there was somebody in the car with me. Somebody with a good map, the ability to use it and the foresight to tell me when the next left comes up before I pass it.

Simply having a passenger would be great so that somebody could pass me a cold water from the cooler in the backseat, keep an
eye peeled for speed traps, coffee shops, tell me jokes and keep an alert for enticing roadside outcrops. Having to do all of these things at once by myself while keeping the car between the lines and at an acceptable speed can be challenging even during the daily commute; add the unknown factor of new and distant unexplored regions and it is truly an adventure!

Online maps can be nice, but usually, they have at least one quirk or major mistake. MapQuest guided my brother in law all the way
from Rhode Island to the opposite side of a mountain in the Catskills flawlessly last spring. While he rightfully chickened out and neglected to take his car up a snowmobile trail straight up the mountain, I was catching very large brown trout on the other side. By
the time he found camp, the fishing gods were done smiling on us. Needless to say, he had need for a skilled copilot. Remember that online maps are meant for getting you around cities and towns. Their value and quality once you are in the boonies exponentially decreases their reliability.

A good copilot will have printouts from MapQuest, Google Maps and a Delorme map book for all states within one day’s drive. This copilot will have memorized all of these documents beforehand and recite alternate directions to any locality while simultaneously making me a sandwich. A good copilot will never steer you to the base of a ski lift overlooking a road-less expanse to nowhere,
unless that is the true destination.

A good copilot will inherently know the oncoming left is immediately after the hairpin turn and will warn me to take the steaming coffee away from my lips before the large pothole. If I indeed scald myself, my co-pilot will take the coffee away, offer me an ice cube, and cool off the coffee without spilling a drop, all the while feeling guilty for failing to live up to the moniker of “the perfect co-pilot”.

During World War II many of our fighter planes had the motto “God is my copilot” emblazoned on the side of their planes. The hope of the pilot was that God himself, acting as the copilot, would see over him and ensure no harm would come to him. For most of us nowadays, our copilot is either our spouse or a mineral-collecting buddy.

Especially in the case of a loved one, diligent attention must be given in your determination as to whether you value your spouse more as a wife or as a quality copilot. How you decide will determine whether you live happily every after or spend your golden years living next to your mineral collection in a shoebox.

A good copilot will never relay their uncertainty when not knowing exactly where they are at any given moment. After all, with 3 maps and a photographic memory, redetermining our exact waypoint should only take a few seconds. Do not distract the driver with unnerving comments like “Are we supposed to be on this side of the road?”; “Should we have taken that left about 17 miles back?”, “I don’t think it’s legal to drive on the sidewalk!” or my favorite: “What did that sign say?”. If the driver is unable to concentrate on the road, if in fact, said driver is truly on a road and not a two rut trail in the woods, chances are, somebody’s gonna roll a vehicle real soon!

Likewise, comments in regard to the quality of the driving skills of the driver should never be questioned, either while the driver is driving or while he is not. A good copilot realizes that if indeed the copilot really knows all there is to know about driving, then perhaps they should swap seats with the poor driver. A good copilot will never be caught praying for his or her own safety due to their perception of apparent negligent driving by the driver.

A good copilot has been in demand since the beginning of time. While some say Moses spent 40 years in the desert waiting for a sign, it has been revealed to me that he was merely searching in vain for the perfect copilot. Since men first began trying to find stuff without asking for directions, the value of a good copilot has skyrocketed. Wikipedia tells us that H.M. Stanley crossed Africa in search of pioneer medical missionary David Livingstone. After a lengthy year-long search, he finally found Livingstone, sick and emaciated, accompanied by his alcoholic wife, in Zambia. This whole charade could have been avoided if either Stanley or Livingstone
had access to a good copilot.

A man goes to a party and has too much to drink. His friends plead with him to let them take him home. He thanks them and says, no, as he only lives a mile away.

About five blocks from the party, the police pull him over for weaving and ask him to get out of the car and walk the line. Just as he starts, the police radio blares out a notice of a robbery taking place in a house just a block away. The police tell the man to stay put, they will be right back and they hop a fence and run down the street to the robbery.

The guy waits and waits and finally decides to drive home. When he gets there, he tells his wife he is going to bed, and to tell anyone who might come looking for him that he has the flu and has been in bed all day.

A few hours later the police knock on the door. They ask if Mr. Joe is there and his wife says yes. They ask to see him and she replies that he is in bed with the flu and has been so all day.

The police have his driver's license. They ask to see his car and she asks why. They insist on seeing his car, so she takes them to the garage. She opens the door. There sitting in the garage is the police car, with all its lights still flashing.

Now I have to ask you: Where was his copilot?

Article has been viewed at least 9683 times.


I really enjoyed this. I recently took a trip to Canada with the perfect co-pilot who researched the trip thoroughly before we left and brought everything we needed from water to maps.

Well done, Joe.

David Bernstein
15th Oct 2010 2:00pm
Thanks, David!
Most of the story is true although I have changed the names to protect friends & family. Your CA trip sounds like a great trip thanks to thorough planning.
Best Regards,

Joe Mulvey
19th Oct 2010 12:53am

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