Slow Down, Speed Up

I’m always amazed at how much I don’t know. I fly nearly every day, either professionally at 37,000′ or in a light airplane down at 3,700′. I teach many new instructors and pilots every week and even then, I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little. This point was driven home these past few weeks as I’ve been going through some training at my airline.

In the first session of training, we focused on reviewing systems and ground knowledge that we should have already had. The issue for all of us was that we never used a lot of the knowledge and therefore filed it in a vault, deep down in our memories. Alternates, Takeoff Minimums, OpSpecs, Weather Minimums, etc… After we worked at digging up all of those things we had long tried to forget, we were put into several emergency scenarios in the simulator. For the first couple days, it felt like whack-a-mole. Quick fix a problem, there’s a new one, fix that one, another new one; and the beat goes on. It was clear to all of us that we were working way too fast, trying to immediately tackle whatever problem the instructors threw at us in a feeble attempt to show off how awesome we were. Both my sim partner and I left those first couple sessions feeling like we were the moles being beat down. We felt like we knew absolutely nothing about what we were doing in this airplane that we have both been flying for over 3 years.

There’s a saying; “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast.” I understand this is a Navy Seal saying that is meant to “correct” muscle memory that may have been ingrained about some situation. Think Law of Primacy.

In an emergency or abnormal situation, our first response may be to panic or, even worse, act without thinking. This is known as Startle/Response. The “Startle” is the sudden or threatening stimuli that triggers your unconscious (and usually negative) “Response.” There was a study conducted 13 years ago which identified this as being a causal or contributing factor in the studied accidents. How can we as pilots, overcome this unconscious response and better affect the outcome of the situation? Throughout your training, I’m sure you have seen the FAA model for decision making, called “DECIDE.”
D – Detect that the action necessary
E – Estimate the significance of the action
C – Choose a desirable outcome
I – Identify actions needed in order to achieve the chosen option
D – Do the necessary action to achieve change
E – Evaluate the effects of the action
As you can see, this is a very thoughtful and methodical way to handle a given situation. The problem with this acronym is that you may be at the crash site by the time you remember what all of the letters mean. Personally, I’m one for making things easier on ourselves. After all, we are pilots and in general, we want to do the least amount of work for the most amount of pay. I came up with something just a little easier. Just STEP through the problem:
S – Stop! When something starts to go south on your flight, your first reaction needs to be… nothing. When I first went through training at the airline, I remember an instructor talking about emergencies in terms of coffee. Is this a 1-sip or 2-sip emergency? Translated, do I have time to troubleshoot, take several courses of action and reassess, or do I really just need to get this airplane on the ground. Is this an off field landing? Is this an emergency that needs the nearest suitable airport or the nearest airport period? Either way, at least take 1 breath!
T – Think! After you have taken your 1 or 2 sips, now is the time to think. This is where systems knowledge is absolutely critical. If you have a failure of your attitude indicator in a glass airplane, should we be thinking about a vacuum pump? If your gear fails to extend, is the immediate action to pump it. If you skip this step and go directly to execution, you’ll likely screw something up. Like feathering the wrong engine!
E – Execute! After you think about what is going on, you need to prioritize the order of your actions, then execute. You should have already had a mental plan in place for what you would do in certain situations, right?! I’ve had a number of students that start executing a go-around by telling the tower. My question to them is always the same. Is the tower going to help point the airplane away from the ground? Enough said. Now to the emergency. Once you prioritize the set of actions, start working the problem.
P – Prepare! Prepare the airplane, prepare your passengers, prepare the airport. Do we need to run through some checklists to get doors open? Do you need to tell your passengers what to do prior to landing and just after (evac, brace, etc..). Do you need to tell the airport to have the trucks ready for your arrive (gear up landing, fire, etc..). Do you need your wife to have a stiff drink ready when you get home?
I like things simple. This is something that even I can get my head around. It’s a logical flow and seems to make sense for nearly every emergency I can think of, and even some that I can’t. Stop, Think, Execute and Prepare. I’ll bet you’re still trying to remember the “E” in the DECIDE model. Meanwhile, that engine isn’t going to restart itself.

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Plus One Flyers - Membership Agreement

Section A:  Agreement

I hereby certify that all the information on this membership form is true to the best of my knowledge.  I understand that any falsification shall be grounds for disqualification or forfeiture of my membership.  I have received, read, understand, and agree to abide by the Plus One Flyers, Inc. (the “Club”) Bylaws and Operational Rules.  In particular, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to be bound by Section 4.8 of the Bylaws, which states that I shall be responsible for any damages or abuse to an aircraft that I am using.  I also acknowledge that I have read and agree to be bound by Section 4.8.3 of the Bylaws, which provides that I shall not seek to hold Plus One Flyers, Inc. legally responsible for my acts while operating a Club aircraft which results in damages or injuries, whether to myself or others. I further acknowledge that I have read and agree to be bound by Article VII of the Bylaws, which provides that I shall be fiscally responsible for my dues, timely flight payments and any collection fees.

In the event that any damages are assessed against the Club as a result of my acts or negligence, I shall be solely responsible for the payment of those damages and for any legal fees or costs incurred by the Club in defending itself.  As set forth by Article VII in the Plus One Flyers Inc. Bylaws, each member, and their heirs, successors, personal representative and assigns, release, acquit, and covenant not to sue, and  shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Club, its officers, directors, agents and employees for any liability, losses, or damages that I or the Club may suffer as a result of an act by, or negligence of, the member while operating a Club aircraft. Each member must acknowledge and agree that he or she is accepting and using any and all Club aircraft in a used, “as is” condition and that the Club does not and has not repaired, reconditioned, or maintained any Club aircraft.  Each member must agree to assume all risks, and assumes full responsibility for risk of bodily injury, death or property damage associated with any Club aircraft and not to seek to hold the Club legally responsible for any such defects in Club aircraft before being allowed to use and fly Club aircraft.

Finally, I understand, should I resign from the Club, my resignation notice (form) must be given in writing at least thirty (30) days prior to leaving the Club and that I will return my club key(s) on or before my resignation date, which is effective the 1st day of the next month following that 30 day period. Membership remains effective until terminated under the terms of this Agreement.

I also agree and understand that:

A.     I will not allow non-members, whether pilots or not, to operate Plus One Flyers Aircraft because they are not insured through Plus One Flyers.  All flight instructors instructing in Club Aircraft must be members of Plus One Flyers, Inc., and be authorized by the club’s Safety Program.

B.     I will not operate Club Aircraft if my FAA medical or Flight Review is not current.

C.     I will not operate Club Aircraft for hire, either under Part 91 or Part 135 of the FAR’s, because the Club’s insurance does not cover such operations.

D.     I, alone, am personally and financially responsible if I participate in any uninsured operations of Club Aircraft.

E.     I will maintain and promptly notify the Club of any changes to my telephone numbers, billing address, email, and credit/debit card(s) information by updating this information myself in Schedule Master.          Initial here_________

F.     I will promptly notify Plus One Flyers if I am involved in an aircraft accident, even if it is not a Plus One Flyers Aircraft.

G.     I authorize my bank or credit/debit card company/companies to make monthly or yearly (as specified in Section B) payments to Plus One Flyers, Inc. and post it to my account.                               

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I will promptly and regularly submit updated copies of my Medical Certificate and Flight Review to the Club’s Membership Officer.


Section B:  Automatic Payment and Credit/Debit Card(s) Guarantee

The credit/debit card(s) you provide on this form and/or in Schedule Master serve as your payment guarantee and is required in your Schedule Master Membership account to enable and maintain your airplane scheduling privileges. Plus One Flyers will charge your card(s) and email you an invoice for any payment shortages.  Any dispute regarding a charge can be handled by the Club Membership Officer.  If an error results in an amount owed you, Plus One Flyers will credit your Schedule Master account balance unless you request a refund check.

Membership Dues are $29.00 monthly, charged to your credit/debit card(s) or if available, against a pre-paid credit balance.  Paying Annual Dues means you maintain a pre-paid credit balance that is reduced by $31.00 monthly until zero and if you elect to continue to pay Annual dues, you are responsible for pre-paying the appropriate amount each year.  There is a $129.50 initiation fee for new members and renewing members, except for those members renewing while serving active duty in U.S. Armed Services.  If there is a change in dues you will receive a thirty day notice by email and a message will be posted in Schedule Master. Your account will be charged on the 1st of every month if you choose the monthly option.  An email invoice will be sent to you every month.  It is your responsibility to view your invoices/account to verify that your payment has been made.  You are responsible for ensuring your card(s) remains current and that if it expires or your billing address changes you alone are responsible for updating that information in Schedule Master.  If your bill has not been paid your scheduling privileges will be automatically suspended until it is paid.  If three consecutive dues invoices remain unpaid your membership will automatically terminate and a $99.00 initiation fee plus the past due balance will be required to reinstate your membership.  If you take no action your account may be sent to a collection agency.

Keep your billing address and email address and card(s) current in your Schedule Master Membership Account. Plus One Flyers is not responsible for ensuring your email system allows Schedule Master or other Club emails to reach you.  You will receive an automatic email one month prior to the expiration of your card in Schedule Master.  Plus One Flyers is a PCI-DSS-compliant e-commerce and POS credit card processing merchant.  See the Club’s Privacy Policy for more about how we protect your private information.                                                                                              

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