Re: Automation and Safety
"Half could not manually fly a simple plane anymore"
That just doesn't ring true to me.
First time I ever went up in a light aircraft (I'd been a passenger on large jets before), was when I was in my early 20s, about 30 years ago. Not a Cessna, but it was a simple two seater prop, not a racer, although it was capable of doing some tricks, like loops, barrel rolls (just slowly) etc.
The pilot, who knew I was a keen user of flight sims (early 90s on an Amiga), did a pop quiz on the way up, asking me to point out each instrument and control, and state what they each did.
Once we levelled out, and were heading in the right direction, he then told me what the target cruse speed, heading and altitude needed to be, and promptly let go of the controls, saying "Your turn!".
I was flying it myself for a good 40 minutes or so, including making turns to new headings pointed out by the pilot, and moving to a higher altitude at one point. He only took control back, as he wanted to do a few tricks, and of course land again! (He also did all the radio chatter, as we moved from one area to the next, letting, presumably some air traffic bods somewhere know where we were, and heading to).
Not saying I was any good or anything, but if I can pick up the basics within the first 10 mins of my first flight, after only playing flight sims on my Amiga (didn't get a 'IBM compatible PC' till Win 98 came out), then I really can't image how a trained pilot, irrespective of what they've flown recently, would not be able to pick it up again very rapidly!
Granted you'd have to find out things like cruse, take off, landing, stall speed etc. But you have to do that for all aircraft anyway.