Lessons Learned: Establish a Pattern of Success

In continuing with debriefing myself and always trying to improve I had a bit of a different flight last week.  This flight wasn’t different because the mission was any different, it really doesn’t change much when it comes to local flying.  But it was different in other ways, and that is what I want to talk about.

It started within minutes of walking in the door to the squadron.  The sign-in process had changed unbeknownst to me so it took me a minute to find the paperwork and get signed in.  Then I started to update my iPad before i realized that there was no update.

I won’t bore you with the continued details, but suffice it to say that almost nothing went the way it normally does.

No mission ever goes exactly as planned so you must have good habit patterns.

No mission ever goes exactly as planned so you must have good habit patterns.

One thing I pride myself on is always following the same pattern and the same system when it comes to flying.  So when there is something that breaks that pattern, it just adds a little stress to the situation.  But that is why we use checklists to make sure everything gets done.

At times the checklists themselves are almost overwhelming.  There are checklists for every single phase of the flight from mission planning to debrief.  They are designed to ensure that every aspect of the flight is taken care of, and to make sure that even the smallest aspect of the flight doesn’t get overlooked.

After awhile you get into that rhythm that I talked about before and it becomes easier to get through a flight.  You feel like the whole thing slows down and you have more time to get the things done that you need to.  The crazy thing is you don’t have more time it is just that your ability to make it happen has improved.

Especially as a young aviator it is important to get into those GOOD habit patterns to make the whole process easier for you.  I emphasize good because you will form habit patterns no matter what, but if you aren’t careful there will be bad habits mixed in with the good.  Sometimes I get a little too comfortable with my abilities because I get into that groove and things just line up.  Then all it takes is a night like my flight last week and I get humbled back to reality.

There was nothing terrible that happened on the flight but I walked away feeling a little less confident and even more sure that these articles are going to help me a lot in my flying.  One of the reasons that I wanted to write this tonight is that I am starting my next upgrade tomorrow and I am going to need all of the help and confidence I can get.

I am starting lead upgrade training tomorrow which means that I become responsible for our entire formation.  I have to do all of the planning and make sure that we are accomplishing the objectives that need to be achieved on each flight.  It is by no means an impossible task, but it will become even more important to rely on the good habit patterns that I have formed, and build on those to effectively accomplish my training and to move on through my next upgrade.

So the lesson learned this week is how vital it is to build those good habit patterns early so that you can rely on them when the plan changes and you are forced to adapt to the situation.  Knowing your limits is an important aspect of being a good aviator, but working to expand those abilities is equally important to becoming a true aviator.