Break the Chain

From NAFI's Chair

Break the Chain

I can't speak for where you are located, obviously, but here in the Midwest and through the Central Plains, this has been the longest transition from winter to spring that many of us can recall. Low visibility and ceilings, high winds, rain, snow, even blizzards have all contributed to a lack of flying time for me and for a lot of people I know.

Contributing to my somewhat bleak outlook is the rash of accidents of late. The deadly midair between two aircraft operated by a tour company in Alaska, a variety of General Aviation accidents I've seen reported around the country, and a government finding that last year's 737 accident in Cuba that killed 112 has been traced to a weight and balance issue are just plain depressing. After all, to borrow once again from Ernest Gann, no one wants to feel like they've been betrayed by something they love.

So, how to address these issues while waiting for the weather to improve? Well, as Rod Machado once said, statistics are indicative, not deterministic. Just because some bad things have happened, that doesn't mean that we have to resign ourselves to saying, "Well, these things happen," or feel captive to forces beyond our control. In fact, resignation is one of the hazardous attitudes we train our students and ourselves to watch for and avoid.

So, whether you are fortunate enough to live in a place where the weather is good, or if you're stuck on the ground grumbling that it has to get better soon, take some time and conduct a personal safety stand down, or conduct one with your peers and students. Take a moment to revisit the fundamentals, especially stuff that is old hat to you. For myself, it's a revisit to the performance and weight and balance data for the airplanes I regularly fly, along with thinking about operations at non-towered airports. Perhaps, for you, it might be practical weather theory or runway incursion avoidance.

One model of accident causality says that accidents result from a chain of events. If the chain is broken at any point, the accident will not happen. Let's all take the time to recognize these chains, and find ways to break them. It will make for a much brighter spring and summer for all of us, regardless of the weather.

Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair
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