Here we are on what may be my last column. Thanks to you all for an excellent year and a lot of good memories.
I remember, as a boy, reading about the National Geographic Explorer’s club. It was loaded with brave, erudite members. They met and discussed their travels and adventures. The décor of the building was itself the product of many explorations, adventures and great experiences. I remember wanting to be a part of something like that. From then on, I sought to educate myself and find adventurous things to do. I have always loved flying, as I’m sure many of you also do. I went through years of flying kites, air cadets, gliders, hang gliders, kite boarding and finally powered flight. And now, although I’m not in the same club as Sir Edmund Hillary, I find myself in a place that is just as good – if not better!
Our flying club has adventurous members who fly great distances for charity, to explore places like the Caribbean and simply to stretch their skills and grow as aviators. And unlike the National Geographic Explorer’s club, we have members of all persuasions and types – regardless of their age, ethnicity, sex or social status.
I’m proud to be a part of the club and I am honoured to have served this last year as your President. I give my thanks to you all and hope that we move forward together in the spirit of adventure!
I’ve been flying since I was 17 and got my PPL when I was 19. I have a little over 150 hours. GGMA is my favourite airplane – I trained on a 172 and 90% of my hours are on the type; high wing aircraft give you a cooler view in my opinion. I’m in my last year of business school at UFV. I have completed a minor in Aviation and a minor in Communications and I’m now working on my major in Business Administration. I am partner and head of sales at a cedar company here in the Fraser Valley. Other than that, I watch a lot of NFL football and I’m a big Patriots fan – if I’m not flying you can catch me enjoying the game with friends.
I understand that you overcame a few challenges when you started as a Director – please tell me about it:
When I first came on as Director there were some raw feelings in the membership committee and the club in general. The club had a rough year with members leaving. But I came in determined to put a fresh perspective on membership – set up a new positive vibe. Our focus was to create a positive environment. When George came on we ran meetings in a more enjoyable way – it wasn’t as taxing anymore. It took some work, and I have to thank my committee Mark, Bob, Dirk, Augie and Ruth; they worked hard and did a great job bringing membership levels up to normal again.
We’ve heard a lot good feedback from members, new and old, about the membership committee. What can you tell our readers about it?
The membership committee flew under the radar this year – we didn’t have a lot of meetings; just when we needed to do it. One thing that worked really well was that Mark Dirk and Aug set up an online membership application. Ninety percent of our new members signed up electronically. It’s the new way of doing things. It has more questions than our current paper application and it allows us to go more in depth during the interview process. The interviews are now a lot more informative because the in-depth questionnaire on the online application form helps us to get a better sense of the applicant. Cloud based technology allows committee members to access applications more easily and has made our meetings more efficient as a result.
In just one year you brought membership up from 89 to 119 members – how did you do it?
Basically, the club is a really great and awesome place. It’s very marketable. Potential members are buying into a cool club, beautiful aircraft and a support network to pursue flying. It can be easy to get members when we have the right people in place. I really have to thank the committee and the Board for their hard work and support.
Is it true we have more flying members now than ever before?
Yes, it’s true! Our new members not only want to enjoy the club and the community, they want to fly the planes. We need more members like that! Who want to volunteer, and want to do some flying; share their passion with friends, family and fellow club members… that’s what this club should be all about!
I know you’ve taken a lot of flak just for being young – yet you stay calm and cool through it all. What advice would you give for new members who face the same kind of thing?
I think there’s always going to be people who try to ruffle your feathers – that just comes with life. At the club, we’re doing a good job of changing culture. IF you ever think there’s something that isn’t right, I’m always available to talk. My position as membership chair I feel it’s my responsibility to protect our members, please come to me if you’re having a problem and together we can try to figure it out. Your words won’t fall on deaf ears.
Amar, there’s lots of buzz about the Instagram feed you’ve set up for the club – we even heard about it from the Airshow publicist. What kind of work does Instagram involve?
Instagram is a social media platform which focuses on photo and video– this is what makes it perfect for pilots and the flying club. Our pilots get to see some stunning visuals that translates well to the medium. In the future I’d like to help our members share their stories and experiences online. Our Instagram is growing; it has only been six months and I’m looking forward to watching it grow.
Your committee has commissioned and sold some very nice Abbotsford Flying Club pins. What can you tell me about them and where can I get one?
We did a very limited run of AFC wing pins just to test the waters. There’s a few left. Get them while you can. Pins are $10, hats are $15. People really seem to like them! Just e-mail me if you want one.
People have been pleased to note that you spend a lot of time volunteering for events at the clubhouse. Is there any event or memory in particular that really stands out for you?
This past year, the airshow was great. I got the opportunity to help in a few different areas (I got to know some of my fellow club members better, and met lots of interesting people) Campground – Ledell with parking; George asked me to bring in young guys; spent time with Jayden & got to know him; Got around and sold some hats and pins, I helped Steve with a couple of things. Steve also helped me with merchandising for the pins and we came up with a lot of great ideas for future. The Campground is an amazing opportunity for the club and were just scratching the surface on the things we could possibly. So many great ideas, but we can only do a few things at a time – with more volunteers I hope we can do more in the future.
If there’s one thing you’d like to do at the club next year what would it be?
I want to keep growing the membership. I want to keep up with improving the culture so that it’s fun for people. I want to bring in members – not just young ones, people of all ages – who want to fly and contribute to the club and have fun.
“Knowledge is a commodity to be shared. For knowledge to pay dividends, it should not remain the monopoly of the selected few” ~ Moutasem Algharati
By: Ryan Van Haren
Tell me about the last time you had a perfect flight. Please, take your time, I’ll sit here and wait. Chances are you’ll have a tough time recalling one. Why? Because flying is the ultimate combination of art and science, neither of which can be perfected. Now ask yourself, how did great artists learn to be great, and how did the great scientists become great. The answer is that they studied and learned from those that came before them. They learned from their colleagues’ successes and failures.
How many of you have picked up the latest issue of FLYING Magazine and skipped right to the regular column called WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT FLYING FROM THAT? I don’t need to tell you because you already know that it is usually in the back quarter of the magazine and shares stories submitted by pilots recounting their most frightening and vulnerable moments in an airplane in hopes that others may also learn. This monthly column is basically the aviation equivalent of the centerfold spread whether you want to admit it or not. Now ask yourself two more questions. Why did you skip straight to the article where pilots tell all? and Would you have the courage to share your mistakes? Chances are you went straight for that article because it put you in the airplane experiencing what that pilot experienced, you were able to learn something about that pilot’s decision making process and you put the magazine down thinking, wow I’m never going to make that mistake!
As pilots we all strive to be safe, and to make good decisions. Good decisions are the result of experience and experience comes from having made mistakes or having learned from the mistakes of others. I recently read a book called The Pathless Way by Justin de Goutiere. This book was published in the 1960s and recounts the stories of a floatplane pilot working on the British Columbia coast. As I was reading in disbelief at some of the risks that were taken and tales that were told I took a moment and realized that at the time this book was published, “bush pilots” and “bush planes” had only really been a thing for twenty years. This pilot never had access to the resources that we enjoy today. No GPS, no Facebook Community to ask questions of or share experiences with, no Google, no satellite imagery or GFAs and certainly no safety management systems. He truly had to make his mistakes in order to learn and gain experience or glean what he could during limited face to face hangar flying with other pilots. I suppose that is what separates aviation pioneers from modern day pilots. Aviation pioneers had to learn the hard way while modern day pilots only have to learn the hard way if they are either unwilling to listen or unwilling to share their mistakes with others.
As pilots we all make mistakes. Let’s chalk it up to being more human than pilot. It is what we do with these mistakes that matter. In Commercial Aviation we have Safety Management Systems or SMS where pilots are required to self report safety concerns or errors be they minor or major. In Air Traffic Control the term used is Just Culture. It is a system where Air Traffic Controllers must self-report their errors. In both the SMS and Just Culture system reports are meant to be non-punitive unless gross negligence is involved. The idea being that by self-reporting, sharing mistakes and identifying the root cause others may learn and avoid making the same error.
The key here is to identify the cause and contributing factors of the mistake not to assign blame. When looking for a root cause one of the methods is the PETE model in which the following categories are examined:
Why is it important to identify a cause rather than find a person to blame? If we want pilots to share their mistakes and lessons openly, the last thing we should be doing is starting a witch hunt or making them feel like they are being prosecuted for making a mistake. The very thing that differentiates a mistake from a malicious act is whether or not it was intentional. When a pilot or any human feels threatened or fears prosecution, they are more likely to cover up the mistake which can lead to much worse problems down the road, especially in aviation.
Tom arrives at the airport to take his flying club’s Cessna 152 out for a flight. His plan was to fly to a local airport for lunch. As he was pulling the aircraft out of the hangar his wife called. He finished pulling the aircraft out with the tow bar in one hand and his cell phone in the other. The conversation gets a bit heated and he paces around the aircraft a few times before getting in and starting the engine. The engine starts normally, all the gauges are green. He advances the throttle to begin taxiing and as the aircraft starts rolling, he hears a loud “PRANG!!” and sees the red handle of the aluminum towbar go airborne and land next to the hangars. Tom immediately shuts the aircraft down and inspects the propeller only to find that there is a small nick with a tiny fleck of red paint. What does Tom do?
The answer is quite simple right! Or is it?
It really depends on the culture at Tom’s flying club. If the culture is one that promotes learning and education and if Tom feels comfortable sharing his mistake, then he will report the prop-strike and educate his fellow club members about the dangers of using a cell phone while pre-flighting an aircraft. The other members might poke some good-natured fun at him, but everyone will have learned a valuable lesson. The odds of a repeat of this experience with anyone from the club is very low. Tom will report the damage, an AME will inspect it and chances are the aircraft will be returned to service.
If Tom’s club has a culture of finger pointing, finding people to blame, looking for reasons to suspend one’s flying privileges or just a general atmosphere of distrust and aversion to learning then there is a very good chance that Tom, fearing repercussions and ostracization will find a rag, buff out the fleck of red paint and say nothing to the club in order to save face and keep his pride intact. Tom will push the plane back into the hangar and for the next nine months other members will fly it with no knowledge of the prop strike. When the aircraft goes in for annual the AME will find a small crack that has grown since the incident which had it been dressed immediately would have been no problem. Upon learning of the crack at the club the members find themselves in a feeding frenzy of distrust pointing fingers at one another trying to find a person to blame while Tom’s conscience weighs heavily in the back row.
Whether new or experienced, pilots have the opportunity to continuously learn from others as well as educate their peers by sharing their experiences and listening without judgement to the experiences of others. I took off in my aircraft this past June without my cowl being done up. The right half of my cowl departed the aircraft and went through my flap. It ended in a prompt landing and a rather large bill from the structures shop. That said, I can tell you using the PETE model exactly how it happened. I shared it openly and am still reminded by others constantly as they make jokes and poke harmless fun. I am glad that they make jokes because every joke made is a reminder to everyone to not make the same mistake that I did. Even highly experienced airline and military pilots are not immune to the odd screw up. About 10 years ago, an Air Canada flight came very close to landing in Vernon thinking that they were on final to Kelowna. Several years later, a military C17 heavy transport landed at a small general aviation airport in Florida next to the actual Air Force Base that they were meant to land at only to have to unload to be light enough to get back out. Mistakes Happen!
We are a community, we are human, and we make mistakes. By keeping our mistakes to ourselves or persecuting others for theirs we do our entire community of aviators a disservice. I challenge each and every person that reads this to take an opportunity to share a mistake that they have made with someone. The more we normalize sharing of errors and mistakes the more we can learn from one another and hopefully reduce the repetition of unfortunate events in the future.
Speaking of learning from mistakes, using the binder containing your journey log and aircraft documents as a temporary chock behind the main wheel isn’t a great idea. Don’t ask how I know!
Click here for an interesting article from Flying magazine on the discussion surrounding FlightChops’ video below. Of interest is the concept of “minimum manoeuvring speed” for GA. (Note: watch the video first and then read the article).
Steve Hinton, well-known aviator in the warbird community, was the pilot of the de Havilland Mosquito from the Flying Heritage Collection at Abbotsford Int’l. Airshow a few years ago.
As the race progresses in the video below, the Red Baron, piloted by young Steve Hinton, is not able to close on the P51 of eventual winner John Crocker. On the last lap the Red Baron pulls up after losing power and is forced to land off the runway. In a story worthy of Hollywood the crash destroys the Red Baron and nearly costs Steve Hinton his life. Steve recovers and goes on to become one of the most respected race pilots and restorers of WW2 aircraft. Thirty years after this event his son became the youngest pilot ever to win the Reno event.