Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Death Before Dishonour

Years ago, a chief pilot I was fond of told me during a flight that he was leaving for another company. I congratulated him (we were both working for the kind of company that even being fired from was probably grounds for congratulations) and then I reflected silently for a while, knowing I would miss him. I asked him who would be chief pilot after he left, because there wasn't a great depth of talent. He named the individual and I asked, a little puzzled, "Does he want to be chief pilot?" My soon-to-be ex-chief pilot laughed and said, "He's not as smart as you, Aviatrix." I'd always thought I was regarded as a bumbling idiot at that company, so that was a bit of a surprise.

Being chief pilot is a lot of work, and also responsibility. It probably sounds strange that a bit of legally weighted paperwork would deter someone charged with the responsibility of being the final word on whether an aircraft and prevailing conditions are safe for flight, and of operating that airplane, including making all inflight decisions down to a safe landing. If a pilot does not live up to the responsibility given to her as pilot-in-command she might not live, potentially killing herself or others. If she fails to fulfill the responsibilities of the position of chief pilot she could be fined, possibly even imprisoned. Not killed or maimed. But somehow that's a more daunting responsibility.

I want to fly airplanes, not ride herd on pilots to see if they've done their recurrent exams. I've turned down a job interview on the Groucho Marxist premise that I didn't want to work for a company that would hire me as chief pilot. You could say I've spent my career avoiding that duty. So you know what's about to happen.

I currently contract my services as a pilot. For all intents and purposes I'm an employee, but I hide behind the premise that I'm "just a contractor." Like the guy who thinks he isn't in as deep because they're only living together, not married. And then she gets pregnant. Or in my case the person holding the office of chief pilot gets out of currency and the operations manager designates me as "acting chief pilot." I look around for where to hide, but I'm the only other person in the operation qualified to hold the position of chief pilot, so there's no one I can tag. I want to fly airplanes, and the company isn't allowed to have airplanes flying without a chief pilot. I've been outmaneuvred. The "acting" part of the title goes away and now I'm it.

Sigh. If I mess up and go to jail, someone will bail me out. Or do something to get me free, right?

12 comments:

Angus Gordon said...

Rotors are turning, don't forget your gloves.
Congratulations! (I think...sort of...)

Jumblerant said...

Congrats on the new position.

If things do go wrong I can't promise any bail money, but I'd definitely send you a cake with a file ;-)

Dave W said...

We often excel in roles that choose us - I have every confidence that this is just such a role...

All the best

Mike Kear said...

If you're worried about having a ground job rather than flying, just tell them to move your filing cabinets and desk into your aircraft and tell them 'if anyone wants me I'll be at FL190'

Sue said...

Congratulations! After musing on what you said in your post, though, I don't think I should say, "You deserve the honor." But you know what I mean. Be careful out there, and remember that we've got your back.

Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Trix:

I can think of no one I'd rather see as Chief Pilot in any organization I was affiliated with, than you. I believe that you'll be a superb leader.

I extend unqualified congratulations!

Regards,

Frank

nec Timide said...

I for one would think any company that appointed you as chief pilot just became a better place to work.

Sometimes a reluctance to take on a difficult job is the best predictor of good performance.

Keep the blue side up!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Aviatrix! I'm a big believer that, like unplanned pregnancies, unplanned promotions happen for a reason.

ALl the best,
Marty

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

Congratulations. This might turn out to be a great adventure.

Was the unnamed company related to wild oxen that roamed north america- Bovidae?

Anonymous said...

We could bake a Goodyear Inflatoplane into a cake too....

Anonymous said...

[So very sorry, botched that link trying to send from a phone, and now there doesn't seem to be any way for me to edit it. If you go to Wikipedia and look for "Goodyear Inflatoplane" you'll find it.]

Aviatrix said...

I think people on here have told me about the Inflatoplane before. I had a relative who worked for Goodyear and did secret work for the US Government in the war. I wonder if I have a personal connection to that aircraft.