Monday, June 13, 2005


Nothing like being reminded of your failings. Especially when a co-worker informs you that for the last two years, he really didn't care if he ever flew with you again and was nervous about when the day would come when he would have to.

A couple of years ago, I was a fresh smokejumper captain. I was sent to Grand Junction, Colorado with the jumpship for a two-week stint. Even though I had over 250 hours in the aircraft and was a qualified smokejumper captain, I lacked real-world experience. Add to that we were filling in for a different government agency who do things just a bit different and my own uncertainty in my abilities; things got stressful quick.

And when I stress, I tend to do things by myself. In aviation, that's called single-pilot. In the smokejumper aircraft, everything is two pilot. We employ CRM...crew/cockpit resource management. In otherwords, we rely on a consesus of all crew based on a guidline of behaviour and actions. If something is outside the predicted norm, the most conservative action is required.

In my single-pilot days, I was a cowboy. I got the job done. Period. I took risks that, to some may have seemed...well...risky, but were not really all that risky to me. I'm basically a chicken! I want to live but I will push the boundaries of my comfort zone on occasion. This relying on my own input is what I default to when I'm stressed.

But that was two years ago. In the meantime I've become more of a two-pilot crew kind of guy. Why? Because for the last two years, with the reduction in the number of aircraft available to us, we have been flying two pilots in everything. And with two pilots, even in a single-pilot aircraft, it's just easier to delegate some of the responsibilities onto the guy in the right seat.

Hopefully they won't blow the horn today and we won't have to deal with any interpersonal issues. But part of being a good captain is flying with weak co-pilots and picking up where they leave off; either verbally or by action. And since some of the weak co-pilots are actually captains themselves (and should know better!), it proves the saying that the worst co-pilot is a captain in the right seat!

I hate these learning experiences. Especially when someone can't let go of the fact that you screwed up once. Not giving you the chance to learn from the mistake and try again to rectify it. If I continue to screw up then me out. But at least give me a chance to redeem myself. Two years is a long time to hold a grudge. But then again, some of us still resent our parents and haven't let go of it long into our adulthood.

On a good friend Lauree (she did the web-design for The Writers Outpost) just received some really good news. Her biopsy came back clean! No sign of the big C...

Eric ;)

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