January 30, 2012

Teaching from the Tube: Lead like the Great Conductors

Teaching from the Tube was one of my favorite features on the old What's a Flight Officer, so I've decided to continue it into the new WAFO?

I came across this video a few weeks back and thought it had some good lessons for what pilots can do as leaders. Please take the 1/2 hour to watch it:

So here's the lesson I believe: Don't be overpowering as a leader, let your team do their jobs. As pilots, or flightcrew, we are taught the importance of Crew Resource Management. We've spoken about this previously in other posts. Sully Sullenberger used CRM to successfully land in the Hudson. Other pilots have used it successfully in situations that are beyond their training and averted total disaster. This is a documented fact time and time again.

Now, I am not suggesting that an orchestra is in a life-and-death situation like the above situations. However, the same approach that Leonard Berstein took in the last clip is similar to what Sullenberger used to secure his airplane: he trusted his team do their jobs. He gave the emergency procedures to his FO because the FO was more familiar with them. He trusted his flight attendants to prepare the cabin for a water landing. He only communicated with the cabin once, but made sure that he was working in-concert with his FO on the flight deck.

We also see in this talk that while Conductors may open up the music to their orchestra, they will also exercise the authority over their players as needed. This is also important for flight teams to understand: "As the Captain I know you're professionals and so trust you to do your jobs, but if I see something I don't like I will step in and correct it". The authority is there, and can be exercised.

I do think the best example of this type of leadership is in the last clip. In case you didn't follow my directions, Here it is again:

Do you see what Leonard Bernstein is doing? He's stepping in only occasionally to inform his orchestra, but otherwise he is letting them do their jobs.

Biting off more than you can chew

The Naval Safety Center published a wonderful article today on safety.
I won't rehash it - just read it.

January 26, 2012

26 Alien Planets

I saw an article on Space.com today that NASA has discovered 26 alien planets orbiting 11 different stars. Remember when it was special just to find one extra-solar planet three times the size of Jupiter?

Unfortunately, scientists can't tell us yet which planets are rocky or just gas giants. But the odds of finding a planet that can support life is increasing. These planets were found by staring at a stretch of the night sky "the size of your fist". The law of probablility tells us that there are potentially millions of planets in our Galaxy. The law of probability can be taken one step further to say that there are potentially thousands of planets like our own. Either revalation is stunning.

January 23, 2012

12 in '12

Aviation Week online has a good story identifying the 12 major aviation stories to watch in 2012.

I agree with this list - but I would also add NASA's Orion to this list. Although she's not scheduled to fly until at least 2014 depending on funding - keeping track of her progress will be interesting.

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100th Post

Okay - so I handed over control and nothing has happened on here. So I took it back.

Firstly, Happy Belated 70th to Civil Air Patrol. Semper Vigilans

I was not a member for the festivities. A lot has happened in the last year. I have started a new job that has since taken me away from CAP, so I've let my membership expire. One day I will return, but not today.

As a result of these changes, What's a Flight Officer will be re-branding itself into an aviation-centric blog as opposed to the niche market of CAP. 2012 promises to be a revolutionary year for aviation: FAA Next Gen, UAS integration, Commercial Space and potential fielding of the F-35 by the USAF.

For now, we'll be keeping the What's a Flight Officer moniker, but a rebranding of this sort sometimes calls for a new name.

Stay tuned!