• “Never alone” by Patrick Milward

    Some pilots forget, most passengers and observers don’t even realize.

    Flying is something you never really do alone.

    Before you even get to the airport, the airplane has been checked, maintained according to strict rules and regulations by mechanics, handlers, and other ground-based personnel.

    The day of the flight, the plane is protected, the passengers are followed along the complicated booking process up to the point when they are sitting in the plane, and even drinks and peanuts are prepared, and for some there is exquisite dinners and drinks.

    An international airport is a small town in itself; even to get in the air and follow a safe route, the Pilot in Command and First Officer still rely on air traffic controllers to get them to destination in safety.

    Whatever your way to fly, you never really fly alone.

    Here at Astonfly, it is exactly the same. For a training flight to take place mechanics, instructors, handlers, operations personnel, administrative personnel all work together in order to make each flight and each lesson possible, while abiding to the most stringent safety rules.

    An airline will act in the same manner.

    Teamwork is at the core of the aeronautical industry. A principle embedded in the foundations of the industry. Modern commercial flying cannot function without it.

    But what is my point?

    In the past couple years, our industry has been under attack and fingers are pointed at us. People should stop flying because our planes pollute, make noise and are at the origins of many other dramatic fallbacks.

    Now, I will not go into a detailed technical speech about these factors, I’ll keep that for another article.

    Before that, it is essential to understand the fundamental origin of the problem: politics and lack of defense.

    Our industry is so hard at work at improving, developing, inventing, and expanding that we forget we must also explain, teach and inform.

    Explain aeronautical development is now inseparable of human development. Not everyone has the time and the money to sale across the Atlantic for a summit in New-York. Sure, a sailboat pollutes less. Sure, it sounds great when used as a means of communication for propaganda reasons. But it most certainly is not practical for the modern economy. That is why sailboats are not used anymore.

    Explain flying is inseparable from human behavior because since the first homo sapien, men have explored, traveled, conquered new territories, new horizons. Should we do it better? Most certainly. Should we be more respectful of nature? Undoubtedly. Should we stop until we have a better means of transportation? Most certainly not. That is not how progress works. Our explorations today are not for discovering new lands but for discovering our humanity and meeting other people and other societies.

    Teach our young ones science, technology, industry. Encourage them to explore their minds and improve on previous generations inventions. Electrical flight is in the making as I write. New propellants, friendly to nature, are already considered, explored, and in the process of development. It is only a matter of time before we find new sources of energy to propel ourselves across the skies.

    Teach the public about our industry. How far we have come, how much we have improved, how often we have held our promises of improvement. Aeronautical transportation is THE ONLY transportation industry to have consistently held its promises of pollution and noise reduction. And we continue.

    Teach our passengers. Millions of passengers travel every year and still, one third of them are scared or apprehensive of flying.  Why? Flying has reached a fabulous level of safety, but still people are scared. There is only one reason, they do not know. They do not know why or how planes fly. They have no understanding of how all this works. Millions of passengers are sitting around doing nothing for hours in airports and during flights. Why don’t we, the industry, teach them while they are sitting. We can do more.

    Inform about the impacts. Make sure the public knows that the industry is not ignoring the consequences and doing nothing. We are interested in what the public believes about environment, noise abatement, safety of populations.

    Inform about demographics of flight. General aviation is not just a few uber-rich having fun burning fossil fuel in the sky for their selfish pleasure. No, general aviation is also thousands of future pilots who need to train repeatedly in order to achieve the outstanding level expected from airlines.

    Inform about the tens of thousands of jobs the industry provides. Closing a general aviation airport is destructive in a magnitude unimagined when considering only a few planes above.

    Astonfly student pilots are never alone. They are pushed, encouraged, supported, and taught. We request from them that they have the knowledge and the know-how. But, much more difficult, we try to teach them the know-how to be. What attitude is expected from them. What stamina they must put into their training. What respect is due to the instructors, staff and environment. Understanding precision and quality work are not just grades for exams but also a way of life for a professional pilot.

    At Astonfly, we look forward to speaking to our neighbors, the people complaining about our noise. We are present in local and regional meetings to improve relationships with the neighbors but also to enhance procedures and seek solutions.

    So, no, a pilot is never alone. It is even essential for the pilot to never forget this. Even if it is just a fire truck slowly escorting a plane with a flat tire off the runway, or a mechanic acting immediately to ensure a flight leaves on time, a pilot is never alone. A pilot is constantly reminded rules, regulations and standard behavior are to be respected.

    A pilot owes her / his wings to others.

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