I’ve been going through withdrawals recently, two kinds of withdrawals actually. The first one is writing because I just haven’t felt like I had anything special to share mostly because of the second one: I haven’t been able to fly.
This may come as a surprise to many of you, but being aircrew in the Air Force does not mean that you get to fly all of the time. In fact, we do a whole lot more other stuff than we do flying, but that might be something for another day.
So what does one who is obsessed with planes and flying do when they can’t fly?
Read about it naturally.
It is a lot of fun reading all of the various blogs and news sources out there, most of which I have stumbled across on Twitter, and they do provide incredibly value assets to someone like me who soaks in anything they can find related to planes. I have learned, in my relatively short years, that there is as much information out there to be taken in as you are willing to search for. The awesome thing about the aviation industry is that it is full of people who will talk your ear off about anything you want to know.
For an avgeek, that is a lot of fun, but for someone whose career is in aviation, it can make all the difference in the world. It really makes no difference if you are a flyer or if you work on the ground supporting flight operations, we all stand to gain so much by taking the chance to learn from anyone who is willing to share.
As I mentioned, I haven’t been able to fly for a little while because I keep getting sick every time I am supposed to fly. As much as that sucks, I did have an instructor who has forced me to take advantage of this time and not waste it.
He gave me a couple of exercises that forced me to get into the regulations and expand my knowledge. Admittedly, I was a little annoyed at first because I was in the middle of other things, but once I got past the initial reaction and started digging into the books it reminded me why I love my job, and how cool it can actually be. There is just something about feeling like you have expanded your own knowledge base that is incredibly rewarding.
While studying the FARs may not be as exciting as studying military tactics, there is still plenty that can be learned that is very exciting, and may just save your life. The best example is Capt Sullenberger who landed his plane on the Hudson. He had spent countless hours studying and learning for a situation just like that. There is a quote from an interview that he did with Katie Couric that really sums this all up perfectly:
“One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15 the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.” -Capt Sullenberger
I apologize that I couldn’t find a solid reference for that quote, but whether he said it or not, the message remains true. We work in an industry where serious accidents are a very real possibility every single day. The only way to be prepared for those accidents is to put in the time and effort now, at ground speed zero. There is no way to know everything all at once, but a solid foundation of safety can be developed over time if we only put forth the effort.
So as much as it sucks to be grounded for long periods of time, that doesn’t mean that we can’t take advantage of that time to become better aviators or improve our abilities on the ground. There is an unending fountain of knowledge that we all can partake in, if only we put forth the effort to take it in.