What Should We Do?

From NAFI's Chair

What Should We Do?

The recent event in Melbourne, Florida, where a student pilot attempted to steal an American Airlines Airbus prompted discussion in the flight instructor forums I frequent. In this case, before things got too far, the maintenance crews intercepted the perpetrator and prevented another possible tragedy.

So, as I asked a few weeks ago after the suicide-by-airplane event in Seattle, what is our responsibility as flight instructors? We are the people who have the closest contact with our students, so I suspect that we would notice behavior that is indicative of stress or other issues in their lives. But most of us are not mental health or behavioral experts. Besides, one person's out-of-norm behavior is someone else's eccentricity. In my own case, I think people would be worried about me if I showed up at an aviation event
without one of my cowboy hats.

So what do we do? There is a stress between providing our clients the service they want while ensuring someone doesn't slip through who shouldn't. This is a lot trickier than saying that a student just can't meet the test standards. Additionally, privacy and the right to be left alone are still things we value in our society, so being intrusive isn't the right answer, either. Finally, the risk to our personal reputations is very high if we get it wrong.

I don't pretend to have the answer to this one. Maybe some of you do, or at least have some suggestions. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts.

Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair
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