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Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Power of Influence

In a recent episode of the Big Bang Theory, Bob Newhart makes a guest appearance as an elderly scientist/TV personality.   His character hosted a children’s science show that Sheldon, Jim Parsons, and Leonard, Johnny Galecki, obsessively watched as young boys.  When Professor Proton, Bob Newhart, laments his legacy, Sheldon and Leonard give him credit for inspiring them to become ground-breaking physicists.   Sheldon tells Prof. Proton, “A generation of scientists are standing on your shoulders.”  I am sure I’m not the only one who sees the irony that the relationship being acted out by Prof. Proton, Sheldon and Leonard is one that took place in real life between Newhart, Parsons and Galecki.  Bob Newhart is a legend.  He has been the inspiration for many famous comedians and ensemble actors.  His TV shows have helped define the standard by which all sitcoms are judged.  The Big Bang Theory is now just as popular as Newhart’s shows for the same impeccable comedic timing and the humorous relationships of quirky characters.  Life imitating art imitating life.

How do we know what influence we may have overs, whether they be in the next generation or our own?  The answer is, “We don’t.”  But that is just the point.  Since we do not know, we must act as if we do.  When we are given an opportunity to influence others we must exercise that responsibility deliberately and with a purpose.  This is especially true in the area of our chosen profession.

A professional is one who is accepted as very skilled or expert at a given activity.  Usually those professionals who are recognized among their peers as having influence are not in leadership roles.  Their influence comes from how they perform at their job.  Airline Captains have a very influential role in their profession. Because of the unique interface of man and machine, the airline Captain must have effective skills handling the crew as well as the aircraft.  When they are in command, Captains set a tone on the flight deck that will establish the relationship they will have with their crew.    How the Captain handles the aircraft will establish his or her performance expectations.   The Captain who builds effective relationships as well as demonstrates strong airmanship skills is the one who has influence.

To have influence is one of the greatest honors that can be given a professional.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hours of Boredom........

This is my 50th post on Flying The Backside.  That’s not much of an accomplishment for a real writer, but for a pilot like me it is quite a milestone.

In its brief few years the blog has evolved, but the objective hasn’t changed.  From the outset I wanted to initiate a dialog among aviation professionals.  I hoped that my statements, questions and opinions would lead readers to make comments both in agreement and opposition.  I endeavored to have an online facilitation of topics relevant to human factors in aviation.

I would like to thank everyone who has spent their valuable time reading and considering my thoughts.  Also, special gratitude goes to those who felt comfortable making comments.

The origins of this quote cannot be verified, but it is well known and often used to described aviation.  “Hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”  Moments of “sheer terror” might be hyperbole, but it makes the point.  Because during the moments of “sheer terror” it is difficult for aircrews to immediately react with effective plans unless those scenarios have been considered in advance.  Checklists and procedural guidance can help, but the most effective technique crews can use is to consider these emergency and non-normal scenarios in advance.  For the same reasons recurrent training events are more suited to practicing and reinforcing potential strategies than an opportunity to begin considering these events.

My hope is still that Flying The Backside would initiate discussions involving the human factors that influence aviation safety.  As a community we have a vast amount of knowledge and experience.  Informally sharing this information and related topics can only have a positive effect on aviation safety.

Thank you and I look forward to your thoughts and insights.