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Summertime Flying

From NAFI's Chair

Summertime Flying

The summer solstice is net week, which means that, as the great Nat King Cole sang, "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer" are upon us. Baseball, hot dogs, the beach, camping, all of the fun stuff we like to do in our spare time. For us as pilots and instructors, that means airshows, fly-ins, EAA AirVenture, $100 hamburgers, or just going up for a ride to look at the countryside. It also means we're likely to be busier now with clients, whether they're new pilots, pilots participating in the Wings program, flight reviews, new ratings, what-have-you.

I was reminded of this as I flew on an airliner from St. Louis to Omaha this week. Normally, this is pretty straightforward - take off from runway 12L at St. Louis Lambert, fly to Omaha, and land on 14R at Omaha Eppley. I've done it often enough that I know how the route is filed and how long it takes (48 minutes from takeoff to touchdown). Not this time, though. On this occasion, there was a vee-shaped line of thunderstorms with an apex near Des Moines that was also filling in. Our flight crew elected, wisely I think, to go all the way past Wichita and then make a turn to the right to come in on the back side of the weather that had already passed to the east of Omaha. Great ride, and everyone on the right side of our aircraft witnessed a light show, at the small price of an extra hour in the air.

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Are You a Leader?

From NAFI's Chair

Are You A Leader?

I recently had a great conversation with a good friend regarding leadership. What impressed me was that it wasn't the usual platitudes attempting to define what a good leader is, but instead contained a few of my friend's more down-to-earth observations. One, for example is: "Do you love your people enough to want to help them and help them grow?" The other was: "A good leader gives his followers small tasks at first, making those tasks incrementally more challenging and larger. This will cause your followers to grow and get better at their jobs, making them leaders as well." Finally, "A great leader is someone who will crawl through the mud to give someone a clean dish towel if they need it."

Flight instructors are leaders. By the very nature of the learning and instructor pilot relationship, it has to be that way. Even if it's two peers flying together, the moment one takes on the instructing role, the relationship shifts to one where the instructor is leading the way. That does not mean that there's anything necessarily overt happening or, perhaps worse and very artificially, the instructor saying, "I am your leader - follow." In fact being overt or obtuse like that will likely get a very negative response.

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Learning From Non-Aviation Professionalism

From NAFI's Chair

Learning From Non-Aviation Professionalism

I had to go to the dentist last week. Nothing special, just a routine checkup and cleaning. No problems were found. The reason I'm telling you about this isn't to complain about dentists or even routine medical appointments in general, because, on the face of it, this really doesn't have anything to do with NAFI or even aviation.

The reason I bring it up is because of the trust involved. I was allowing a dental hygienist, someone with sharp implements in her hands, to reach deep into my mouth. She also had a small hose in her hand with which she could easily soak or even drown me, if she so chose. At the same time, she trusted me not to reflexively bite her hands while she was flossing my teeth and doing all the other things necessary for good dental hygiene. Finally, when I did  mention a slight sensitivity in one of my molars, I allowed the doctor to reach in to my mouth with a small hammer to tap it (good news - there's nothing on the X-ray and the tap test only rang in my ear).

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