U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


April 1999 




Thought for the month....

Our reputation is what other people think of us.
Our character is how we really are.

I hope that in whatever field or endeavor you strive, you have met someone who you feel exemplifies the very best characteristics or virtues that make them better than the rest. Over the years I have met thousands of pilots and mechanics, and I have come to realize that there are certain qualities that the best one’s all seem to have in common.

Next to distractions, being impatient is the next most likely thing to cause an accident that I can think of. People in aviation are fast movers and we don’t like it very much when we can’t. The reality is that we are dealing with things that have a pace of their own, and we can’t influence them. If there are 16 screws holding a cowling in place, we can’t get it off by only removing 15. A thunderstorm is programmed by nature, not by our flight plan. The best pilots and technicians are able to intuitively sense the pace so they move along at the maximum speed they can, and accomplish the task in the most efficient way. The impatient charge ahead much faster, but then must back track to correct errors or continue into a hazardous situation.

People with a keen perception are usually ahead of the situation. Some of that insight or intuition is a result of experience, some of it is because they have just the right level of suspicion that warns them that things aren’t exactly right. They know what the weather forecast was, but what they see in the windscreen doesn’t seem to agree. They’re asking for a diversion before most realize there’s a problem. That intermittent indication on the test equipment could be just a meaningless anomaly, or.....it could be something else. They’ll find out and still get the job out on time, because they anticipated additional problems.

The reason they divert or trouble shoot further is because, having decided a course of action, they move decisively. Playing "I think I can" with the gas often results in an off airport landing. As soon as fuel becomes an issue, the decisive pilot initiates plan B, and heads for an airport. The impatient, lacking the intuition to realize bad things are coming, continue on indecisively, wishing they even had a plan B. It never occurred to them that the GPS would fail and they might suddenly be faced with good old pilotage.

The failure of any piece of equipment can be a problem, but the best anticipate the possibility and have a plan to work around it. They know where the "crunch" times are and spread out the workload to minimize task saturation. They know what the right tools are and they have them available for use when needed. The GPS failure is inconvenient, but with the required chart already properly folded and available, the transition to eye balls only flying is a non-event. Arriving at a busy destination, the organized pilot has already reviewed the before landing checklist and has completed all but the last remaining items, allowing time to develop situational awareness in the terminal area. Responding to a specific report about a problem, the organized maintenance technician arrives with the maintenance manual for the aircraft, to look-up the values and make an informed decision on the proper course of action to be taken.

The best are a curious bunch. They seek to find out why things are the way they are. Why does the checklist or maintenance procedure require something to be done in this order instead of that way? Investigating the reason, they learn much more than just the answer. They also care about things. The wires connecting various pieces of electronic equipment could be allowed to wonder haphazardly through the compartment without any problem, but they’re bundled up and neatly secured because to do otherwise - just wouldn’t look right.

When these qualities all come together we find an individual who is confident. Not over confident or arrogant, but self assured that even though they don’t have all the answers, they can deal with the changes. Being proficient, they can remain cool under pressure. And what laudable term do we use to describe these individuals? ACE of the place? Top Gun? Nah. We simply say they’ve got good common sense. In aviation, that means a lot.

Safety Program Manager
1-800-322-8876 x 4835

Upcoming Events...Upcoming Events...Upcoming Events

April 18th

Parks College 4th Annual Fly-In/Drive-In Breakfast

St Louis Downtown Airport (CPS)

Pancake Breakfast starts at 0700

Safety Seminar at 0900

April 22nd

Florissant Valley Community College Multi Purpose Room

Weather Tactics II

AOPA Air Safety Foundation

May 15th

St Clair MO City Hall, #1 Paul Parks Drive

Giving & Getting a Good Flight Review & Flight Services, 1200 to 1400

Open House at the Airport (K39) on May 15th & 16th

Food and Activities both days

June 5th

St Louis Downtown Parks Airport (CPS)

Users Meeting

Parks College Hangar #8, 1300 to 1600

July 3rd

Poplar Bluff Airport (POF)

Poplar Bluff, MO

Flight Discipline

May Day