You can tell a lot about your pilot when you look at how he is dressed. Really. And I say “your pilot” with great intention here. That is to set off the difference between a pilot who has a job that he performs to transport people and things from one place to another, versus a fun-loving pilot who jumps in his own plane to go bore holes in the sky.
Thinking just about the pilots who have the job to transport celebrities, the CEO and other executives, or the passengers on an airline flight - - What’s the best way to judge how well they might do their job? You don’t have the chance to talk with their co-workers, or check out the scores they got on their last evaluation. Just look at that pilot and tell me how much faith you have that he, or she, will get you where you want to go, safely and on time. What clues do you have to help you make this judgment call? I think the big clue is the wrinkles in the pilot’s shirt.
I get to see a lot of pilots as I fly to different airports and wait for my corporate passengers to finish their business before we fly back home. During that waiting time, I often work near other pilots to check out changing weather, or to file a flight plan. I get to see who has a good work habit, and who is just barely getting the job done. Wrinkled shirts are a pretty big tip-off.
A pilot who has a freshly pressed shirt, probably also arranged his schedule to get a good night of sleep before his day of flying. His conversation is usually crisp and decisive. But, you say, “Just because he is alert, well organized, and has a pressed shirt doesn’t mean he knows how to fly well, or that he can handle the plane well in an emergency.” Well, I have to say you’re right. But, if the pilot is alert, he has a better chance to avoid the emergency in the first place.
Beyond that first instinctive judgment about your pilot, what did you expect him to look like, anyway? There is an image that the pilot needs to project. It’s not an image about how much the pilot is being paid, or how the company wants the pilot to look. The image is a personal thing that belongs to the pilot. It should project how he takes ownership of the safety of every passenger and piece of cargo on board. It should also project what the pilot’s family wants them to be as they earn their living and provide food for the dinner table. Finally, it should project how much the pilot loves doing his job. If you are a competent pilot who cares about your job and loves doing your job, a wrinkled shirt isn’t part of your image.
Just iron your shirt! Do it for yourself!
I make my living by flying professionals and top executives around the country. If my passengers aren’t wearing “suits” as a fashion statement, you can be certain their shirts have no wrinkles, and their pants are well-creased, without wrinkles. If I am going to be caught flying these executives around, I want to look like them. They take pride in their job. And looking the part is never compromised.
As their pilot, I take ownership of the responsibility the executives have to the company they work for, the jobs they create, and effect they have on the global economy. I am part of their team and I should look the part.
Occasionally, a pilot needs to say "no" to some pretty powerful people. That responsibility should not be taken lightly. When you have to tell the CEO of a major company, or the higher-ups at your airline, "No. It is unsafe to fly." That is a moment when you will be judged. Do you want to be wearing a wrinkled shirt?
I didn’t think so …
Pilot Rule #1: Don’t Gamble.
Clark W. Griswald is my hero. An all American family man who put’s everything on the line to make sure his Griswald Family Christmas’s, European and Vegas vacations are the best experience for his family. I love it. You don’t see Clark W. Griswald, a.k.a. Sparky, gambling. Well, I take that back, let’s not count the $22,000 he loses on his Vegas vacation.
His mental checklist when leaving the house on these vacations is pretty darn impressive. Every square inch of his suit cases, and every cubic inch of the family truckster, are strategically planned. I need to take packing lessons from Clark.
Pretty much every trip I take as a pilot I am gambling, just the same as Derrell Sheets is gambling when he buys a Storage Unit on Storage Wars. I gamble on how much clean underwear, clean socks, shirts, and ties I pack in my bag. If I have a day trip, forget it. I don’t even pack or bring a suit case. The funny thing is that I have been bit in the behind almost 100% of the time when not packing the appropriate amount. And, if you don’t bring a bag at all, Murphy’s Law will absolutely guarantee that your trip will keep you travelling for more than one day and you will end up wishing you had packed a bag. It’s a gamble with 100% odds against you.
You’d think I’d learn by now. Every time I fly, I should bring a packed bag. I haven’t learned. Rebounding from my hapless situation, people standing near me get to hear interesting quotes like: “Oh, hey, K-Mart clearance rack, we meet again.” “Siri, where is the closest Target?” or even “What the hell, Google Maps won’t load on my phone and I can’t find Walmart.”
Ultimately, the successful outcome for how well you rebound after you get caught without your overnight bag is showing up the next morning with a clean shaven face as well as minty fresh teeth and breath. There are so many different paths for a successful outcome it’s all up to you.
You’ll never have to be mad at Google Maps anymore if you don’t gamble. But maybe that’s how Google Maps stays in business? Based on my historical sample of this game, the house will always win.
I’m pretty young to be shocked by changes in the world. Why should I expect things to remain as they are? Doesn’t change happen all the time … to everything? Actually, it’s pretty difficult to point to something and say “It will stay that way for decades.”
Pause for a moment and ask yourself how you would feel if your hometown went out of business. I mean they shut their doors and everybody left. What happens to the dreams of everyone who grew up there? What was worth, to grow up there, after all?
What is it that gets me in such a philosophical state of mind? And, why all the questions? Well, there is a trend going on that scares me. It also pisses me off. I think I’ve found one small way we’re going in the wrong direction that will have a huge impact on life. And, yes, it does involve flying.
You see, Flight Schools around the country are closing up shop, one right after another. The whole community of high-quality aviation teaching institutions is going out of business. I mean they’re shutting their doors and everybody is leaving. There are still ways for people to “get a pilot’s license.” But there are not that many places where there is a full degreed education program that teaches you all about aviation.
As I sit back and look at places I have learned to fly or train, they have all gone, or are going, out of business. Recently, the University of Illinois announced it will terminate its ‘Institute of Aviation’ program. When the sun finally sets on the Institute of Aviation, the last of the schools that taught me about aviation will be gone. That doesn’t just make me sad. It outrages me!
You might think I’m getting worked up over nothing that matters. In the grand scheme of things this powerful and high-ranking decision doesn't affect a lot of individuals, right? Oh, wait a second, I forgot, it does....my bad. Did we forget to count the number of passengers that a pilot will fly in his or her career? How about the dollar value of cargo transported by an airplane and its pilot during his or her career? And who will manage the airports and their various operations? Will these people be educated in their field, or just gravitate into the job when they’ve worked as a gate agent for thirty years. I’m not just talking about the life of the pilot here; and not just the airport employee, either.
A pilot's economic foot print is a pretty significant shoe size. It is one of the most undervalued potentials that I can think of. So why are flight schoolsclosing instead of opening? Because the economic value of a pilot is so important, the government won’t let organized pilot and flight attendant labor groups go on strike. The labor groups need special government approval before they can strike, due to the value they provide to the micro- and macro-economies. There is a massive disconnect here. Pilots are pretty creative individuals, why are we closing the very pilot incubators (flight schools) that help individuals maximize their economic input, and value to society?
The YouTube video below was made by one of the last classes of the Institute of Aviation. Here is what the video description says:
BEHOLD: The future pilots of America.
And the University of Illinois wants to get rid of the coolest major on campus....... blasphemy I tell you! SAVE THE INSTITUTE OF AVIATION!
It couldn't have been said any better.