Back in 2014, my book Pilots In Command: Your Best Trip, Every Trip hit the bookshelves. Since then, Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA) has sold out of most of the first printing! When ASA contacted me last spring to let me know that a second printing was in the works, they asked if I had any changes or additions I wanted to make. Naturally, I did!
Amazingly enough, the workforce of the world gets on about its business with very little in the way of required continuing education. There are plenty of jobs out there where you get hired, learn your role and tasks, and basically qualify through experience how to best do your job. Sure, there may be an initial training period, but once you are out from under the tutelage of a trainer or supervisor, you are pretty much on your own.
Airline pilots, however, are required not just to attend rigorous new-hire and initial equipment training, but also to participate in recurring training events. The airline industry term in the U.S. is “Continuing Qualification” — aviation terminology for the more common “continuing education”. CQ is an important anchor in the safety and integrity of our industry. Let me tell you why it matters.
I have upgraded my website to use one of the most functional and user-friendly themes on the market! The Get Noticed! theme by Michael Hyatt and Co. has an outstanding look and feel, and allows for a wide range of customizations. I plan on continually refining the design of the site alongside new content as it rolls out. Let me know what you think!
Early on in primary flight training, pilots are acquainted with the guidance on how to determine whether or not they are “fit to fly”. The Airman’s Information Manual spells out the acronym “IMSAFE”, which stands for Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, Emotions. Out of these five criteria, one continues to elude aviators, causing crew cohesiveness to fail, and threats to safety of flight to increase. The elusive characteristic is stress.
The elusiveness of stress is due to the programming of society, in my opinion, to simply “deal” with life. Pilots, naturally Type A personalities, and mission-oriented, have dangerous tendencies to internalize problems and push on without confronting the realities of their life conflicts.
Every month I hear this:
“I am so sick and tired of not getting a darn thing I ask for in PBS. What’s the use? I may as well not bid!”
That statement (or something similar to it) is uttered many pilots every month as schedules turned out of their Preferential Bidding System (PBS) are posted. It is a statement filled with misconception and irony. In fact, most bidders don’t really know or understand how PBS works, and they really only have themselves to blame. PBS is not a cruel management trick or a union conspiracy. It is, in all actuality, one of the most sophisticated pieces of computer programming an air carrier runs. It takes a huge investment of time and money every month to ensure the PBS runs in accordance with contract rules and air carrier requirements.
And all the power to get a reasonable schedule that meets some or even all of your most important requests is completely in your hands….with a few caveats.
One of my goals for 2017 is to read 2 books a month. Some people challenge themselves to read a ton more than that…my biggest challenge is not allowing myself to fall asleep while I read! In all seriousness, I have some key motivations for meeting this goal. I want to increase my ability to read and absorb knowledge this year, develop critical reading and thinking skills, and become more knowledgeable in several areas.
So, there you are sitting in the back of the plane, let’s say in an emergency exit row, aisle seat, all kicked back and relaxed. You are in uniform on a scheduled deadhead, and actually happy that it will be a quick flight and then straight to the layover hotel. You had a couple of relatively easy legs before this one, so it hasn’t been a bad day. You kindly handle the silly, sometimes nervous, questions and looks from passengers (“Hey, who’s driving the plane if you’re back here!?”) with simple explanations and a smile. The boarding door closes and pushback commences. The FA’s are doing a stellar job at the safety briefing during the taxi out, and you are just about to pop in your noise canceling earbuds when the plane stops and the engines shut down.
It’s no secret that sleep is essential for, well, pretty much everything you do in life. And I am sure that you have no doubt seen or heard many a news story about the amazing power of a good night sleep. Truthfully, though, everyone naturally knows about how sweet sleep is. We don’t need news stories, fancy studies, or the advice of a health professional to understand that sleeping well and at the time we need it most makes us better at everything in life.
We are almost on the brink of the new year. Looking just three weeks down the calendar, and we can see 2017 staring us right in the face. Heck, I just started bidding for my January 2017 schedule! This is how our lives as airline professionals work. We are always looking far in advance in an effort to maximize our schedule, our income, and our quality of life.
For over a decade I had let each year rush up onto me, and like lots of people, I simply went, “OK, I guess I should try to have a clean slate and make new years resolutions.” The problem with that thinking is that it simply doesn’t get the job done. Resolutions are rarely followed through on. Goals, however, are typically much better suited for actual achievement. They have the concrete tangibility to ensure that you have a fighting chance to gain what you set out for.
But, you need a process…a framework.
I wonder if these guys are ready to put 2016 behind them!
I am sure you have heard it said already – 2016 was a year to forget. We aren’t even done yet, but we want it to be over. Whether people are bemoaning politics, weather, the loss of several cultural icons, or simply just need a fresh take because life has been rough this year, we are definitely in a mode of looking back and saying, “good riddance”!
But I would suggest that looking back on the year, and assessing it for what it was and was not, is not only natural and something to expect. Rather, we should embrace the review, with Prince, Brexit, Trump, and all in consideration. Don’t forget the high notes too! How about the Dow hitting 19,000 last week? And how about those Cubs? Yeah, 2016 didn’t totally suck after all!
Taking a look back at the year is also crucial in looking forward. You are probably reading this and thinking, “Hey, nice to see Kris writing on his blog again. I wonder what the occasion is?” Well, I started doing my review of 2016, and you know what was missing…all year? This blog. My voice! And it got me to thinking about why, and how I can get back into this medium to lean into what I really want to communicate.