When I raised my right hand and promised to defend our country, the idea I had for what that would intail was not entirely whole. I think I knew the big picture, the part where I give my life, work hard every day, sacrifice for my country, all that. But you do not really think about the little things. There's no promotional commercials for the 12 hour days you work for 18 days straight. No one glorifies the months (or in some cases years) you do not get to see your family. Granted, I am not deployed, nor will I be for quite a while. But that does not mean I am not sacrificing. It is just different. My job, training pilots to be the country's war fighters, trash-haulers, emergency rescue-saving, crisis relief-providing aviators, is still a full up, 12 hour a day, sometimes seven day a week job. Especially when you do not have a family yet. The more I get into it, the more I understand how important it is. At first, I was very dissappointed I would not be going on to my Viper, blowing stuff up and killing people out there on the front lines, like I pictured I would be doing when I signed up for this gig. But as I teach my very first student tomorrow, I will be proud. It will be hard to watch pilots that I taught go on to bigger and better things, places that I wished I could be, but because I taught them, a little bit of me goes along with them. There was a really good quote they used at our instructor training course in Texas:
Whenever we talk about a pilot who has been killed in a flying accident, we should all keep one thing in mind. He called upon the sum of all his knowledge and made a judgment. He believed in it so strongly that he knowingly bet his life on it. That his judgment was faulty is a tragedy, not stupidity. Every instructor, supervisor, and contemporary who ever spoke to him had an opportunity to influence his judgment, so a little bit of all of us goes with every pilot we lose.— author unknown
I think about that a lot. I hope demanding more of myself will help me demand more of my students, and in turn, some day, it will save a life. Quote found here. Plenty more where that came from.