Flying is a part of my life is most everything that I do. At the very least I think about flying during just about anything else that I am doing.
Growing up I always thought of flying as a solitary exercise. Even if I had become an airline pilot with a plane full of people it just seemed like most of the work would be done alone. Even as I went through training I thought I wanted to be on a plane with just me and the pilot. I could not have been more wrong.
I ended up on the mighty C-130 Hercules with a crew makeup of up to 6 people on most missions, and honestly, that is one of the things I like most about my job. I love the chance that I have to work with other people to accomplish things that could not be done otherwise.
Sure, technology is great, and it can do a lot, but there is really no replacement for a group of people working together to get things done. I have already seen this numerous times in my short career. There have been times where a crew member simply came up with a better idea, or easier way to do something, and other times they have literally saved my life.
When we go in for a check-ride one of the common phrases that the evaluator often uses is, “a crew save is a good save.” What they mean is that even if the person being evaluated misses something they won’t be penalized if someone else on the crew catches it before there are any adverse affects.
I’ve always loved the message that sends. The message that you are all there as a crew and that the actions of the crew as a whole are what will bring the final results. While it is true that any individual can do things that lead to an unsafe result, there is almost always a chance that someone else on the crew can save them before any damage is done.
I am so grateful for the hundreds of different people I have flown with in my career already. They have each provided me with insights and knowledge that could not have been developed in any other way.
In particular I am grateful for the crew I flew with while in Afghanistan. I learned more in the two months I had with that crew than in the rest of my flying time combined. Our most experienced crew member was a loadmaster who taught all of us every chance he got, and I will forever be indebted to him for the lessons he taught me.
That is the other message that I want to share today. Whether you just started flying, or have been flying for 50 years, you have worthwhile knowledge that should be shared with others. As aviators we can never stop learning if we want to remain safe. We must constantly be broadening our understanding of the wonder that is flight, and it is the duty of all who have gained experience to share it with others so that we all may stay safer.
Even if you are the only licensed pilot in a 172 with friends, educate them on the basics so that they are an active participant. You never know when their eyes may spot something that saves everyone’s lives.
Never forget, “A crew save is a good save.”