Thursday, January 12, 2006

Below the Radar

Recently a junior pilot needed to talk to a manager, while said manager was deeply involved in a conversation with another senior person. I believe the topic was deer hunting, or possibly pick-up trucks. The junior pilot was too shy to walk up to these exalted individuals and ask for something he needed to go do his job. I interupted the conversation, pointed out the patiently waiting young man, and then walked off, hearing the beginning of a stereotypical 'my door is always open, don't hesitate to come to me at any time' speech to the junior pilot.

Amused, I related the incident to another pilot who has been here longer than I have. The reaction was unexpected.

"You said that to him? No, no, you shouldn't do that! Don't get on his radar. He has hiring and firing power."

The metaphor of avoiding being on radar refers to wartime flight, where pilots fly low, in the radar shadow of terrain, so that the sweep of surveillance radar doesn't reflect off their aircraft, revealing presence and location to enemy forces. I imagine most people know that.

But we're not in a war zone. In civilian life, pilots who fly below radar coverage are general aviation pilots, in small airplanes, without radios, or afraid to talk to the air traffic controllers, or running drugs. Not professional pilots.

Me, I want to be on the radar. I want to be in contact with the controllers who will watch me on thir scopes, alert me to the presence of traffic I may not have seen, pass messages about dangerous icing or turbulence. I want the controllers to know where I am. And I'd kind of like my bosses to know I'm worth something, too. It's true that in a large company a pilot aims to have management never hear her name, along the lines of no news is good news, but I always think I can do better than that.


Anonymous said...

Deer hunting and pick-up trucks?...My wife says men think about belly button fuzz, football, and guns most of the time. Can it be?

dibabear said...

Oh sure, now Dave's given me a THIRD thing to think about. :-)

And not all professional pilots fly within the radar. Lest you define professional pilot as one who wears epaulets, kinda narrow definition to me though.

Aviatrix said...

Sure, I fly lots of places with no radar coverage. But deliberately avoiding radar?

Aviatrix said...

Unless you're a military pilot, and it's enemy targetting radar you're talking about.