Thursday, July 13, 2006

true professionals

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.


At 12:36 AM, Blogger Greybeard said...

I've now been flight instructing for almost 40 years.

What would you say is the most important thing you've done in your life?
I bet learning to fly would fall in the top 5 events, right?
Top 3?
Number 1?

Teach someone to fly, and you will be in their memories for the rest of their lives. I'm still in touch with one of the first guys I taught..... I go to his home to visit when I'm in his neighborhood.

And it is "teaching", just like teaching any other subject. If you're good at it, you never stop learning yourself! The surprises about flying itself slow over the years as true understanding settles in, but the "light bulb" moments about teaching the skill to others never ceases. If the student doesn't learn from attacking the subject from one direction, take up the attack from another course and come at it from another direction!

And if you are teaching new students.......
people that you will turn loose solo for the first time..... oh my!
Exciting. Stressful. Exhilarating. Tremendously satisfying.

I'm glad I found your blog. I look forward to reading about your future experiences!

(But can you hover?)

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Peggy said...

greybeard, you are so right about learning to fly being at the top of life's events! Shamelessly I will say it even beat being a mommy. Don't tell!

And my flying instructor was god. One day soon (not soon enough!) after I started lessons, as Isabel Martel and I were taxing after landing, she said stop here and let me out. You're ready to solo. I'm not exaggerating when I say my reaction was wanting to jump out of the plane and kiss her feet as she descended. She was entrusting that airplane to ME. Alone. I did the touch-and-goes for an hour as she said I could and was in heaven.


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