U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation
Administration

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

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

NOVEMBER 1998

 

 

AVIATION SAFETY NEWSLETTER

www.faa.gov/fsdo/stlfsdo

Thought for the month....Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard

than anyone expects of you. Never excuse yourself. - Henry Ward Beecher

BEING A ROLE MODEL IS TOUGH....It often comes as a shock to some people when they find out that they're role models. How could such a thing happen? With some people it comes with age. A few gray hairs and right away everyone thinks you know what you're doing. In many cases, it comes with a title: Check pilot, A&P, CFI, ATP, IA, Counselor, etc. They indicate a certain status or higher level of training and proficiency and, whether we like it or not, we become the model for behavior in whatever discipline we work.

Being elevated to the position of an "all-knowing entity", can have an interesting effect on our personality. Some people are reluctant to accept the title, and down play their role. Others are more than willing to show off their skills and knowledge, to the point of exceeding both if the situation calls for it. The important thing to remember is that the title of "role model" applies to both the best and the worst in any field of endeavor.

Being a role model can, and should be, an uncomfortable position to be in. It means that someone is watching how we carry ourselves, how we listen when questions are asked and how we conduct ourselves when confronted with various situations. The people we come in contact with are absorbing the details of the way we do things. We may be formally instructing some of them, but most are going to be peers or casual contacts whose name we probably don't know.

"Prudent." The dictionary defines it as: "judicious or wisely cautious in practical affairs." There are a lot of regulations in flying, but the reality is that they provide pretty broad based guidance. The details are left to our own expertise and judgment. If something bad happens in aviation, if a violation occurs, the standard we are judged against is prudence. Were our actions those of a prudent: pilot, flight instructor, airline captain, maintenance technician, examiner, inspector, whatever. Administrative Law Judges as well as the NTSB, apply this standard in aviation cases.

If I could select someone as a role model for my daughters, I suspect that prudence would one of the qualities I might like to see. When I think of those individuals who I consider role models in my life, some of the other qualities I recall are: integrity, character and discipline. Actually, integrity and discipline are elements of character. Do we have the character to stand up for doing the right thing? If we do, then discipline will be maintained even if no one is watching. Completing the job 100%, doing the inspections, logging the flight time accurately, all require integrity. These would be positive qualities to model for upcoming airmen.

Despite good intentions, none of us are perfect. I can think of many times as an instructor pilot, or as a line pilot, when I haven't modeled very good airmanship for the pilot I was flying with or instructing. I wish I could do those over again, but we only get one first time. We can't undo what's already done, but we can point out our errors and correct them in the future. If we don't correct them we can get into the habit of allowing ever increasing deviations from the norm and it is possible to lose the ability to differentiate between necessity and convenience. Having said that, I don't believe that it's always a bad thing to show flaws in our character. All of us are going to be pressured by events and make some bad choices. Our finest hour comes when we confront our bad choices and display the character it takes to correct them.

We are the product of the people who trained us and the individuals who are our role models. Attitude and behavior have consistently been identified as key elements in aviation safety. We are, or will be, the role models for those who follow in the business. The future is theirs to make, but ours to model. Do the right thing.

Upcoming Events:

Nov. 18
Shafer Metro-East Airport.
Why Good Pilots Make Bad Mistakes
Communications and Resource Management
7 to 9 PM.

Dec. 12
Parks College, St. Louis University
Helicopter Safety Seminar
8 AM to 12 PM.

Jan. 23
Boeing Building 33
Super Safety Seminar 8 AM to 1 PM.

Feb. 12 & 13
IA Renewal Seminar
Parks College at St. Louis University
Programs and exhibits

Feb. 13
Maintenance Seminar and Exhibit for Pilots and Mechanics
Programs and exhibits of interest to pilots, owners and maintenance technicians.

Feb. 20 & 21
Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association Flight Instructor Renewal Clinic
Parks College at St. Louis University

HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING

LET'S NOT MEET BY ACCIDENT
FRED P. HARMS

Safety Program Manager

1-800-322-8876 x 4835

Fred.Harms@faa.gov

"May Day"