Think about your next flight, you are going to possibly think about what you are going to shop at the airport store, or binge eat at what place and in case it’s going to be a long flight, you will probably devise a strategy to kill your time on-board; however leaving this low IQ obsession with aviation and flying if we have a closer look on what goes behind the scenes on every single flight- trust me, the next time you speak to anyone associated with this industry- no matter where they work- on the ground or in the sky- your respect is bound to increase manifold- and you will know how much you simply owe to these fabulous men and women- who guard your precious life (irrespective whether it is valuable or not) with all they have both in the skies above and on the earth below- literally minute to minute!
Since I have been personally passionate about aviation, I can actually end up writing a long book on this, but let me make easier for all those of you, who are fence sitters and do not differentiate between a ship, bus, train and an airplane, beyond a point that they are different forms of transport! Sharing with you my key learnings as a student of aviation; in case I miss out something, do feel free to add and let everyone (including me ) know about that aspect as well!
Discipline is the key:Like many other vocations that one chooses; aviation is a place where discipline is etched not as a virtue but as part of one’s personality and it is a given! You don’t necessarily have to be only part of the flight crew for this; if you have observed ATC transcripts, on ground staff, air- side service personnel, airport operations team- you choose your pick and this one trait will be absolutely evident.The aspect of discipline is critical in aviation, this is among the fundamental of all other values needed and a lapse on this could literally kill you or others!- yes there have been instances around these!- you can click on the link and refer to some material readily available!
Trust and Teamwork: There is no parallel example in any job that you choose (apart from space exploration and military action) wherein you will be able to witness such a colossal team work of men and women across functions, across timelines and across borders! It takes easily around 75 to 125 people to manage one trip (directly/ indirectly) depending on whether it’s a short haul flight or a long haul one! Each of these team members are specialists, with a great eye for detail and an unflinching trust on each other- they know lives depend on what they say, write and sign off! They trust each other like they trust God- there is no other way- laws of physics and human trust carry these marvelous pieces of engineering and fragile humans along! Of course yes, there have been those odd and sad aberrations in crew resource management / factors pertaining to trust- either trusting fellow crew member or the instruments which have resulted in horrific tragedies!
Politeness and Service orientation: Another hallmark of the people associated in aviation- politeness and service orientation- the extra care that staff undertakes- at times right from your booking- to the pick up for the airport- to the assistance with infant food- last minute changes to seating (based on your requests- sometimes genuine- many times a needless show off!), if you are a frequent flyer; knowing the right food reaches you, if you are one of those people burning away corporate money for travel in business class or first class- then providing you with the benefits without succumbing to your idiocracy and foolishness where you keep hitting the call button with no real reason– well all this takes a lot of effort, practice and an intrinsic ability to stay calm and yet provide service. I had the privilege once to have a chat with a cabin crew (the flight was delayed) and people were howling and screaming at one of the departure gates of the domestic terminal of the Mumbai International airport (the way passengers were howling away and screaming for food and water at 1 am that morning- I began to actually wonder, am i really flying with these idiots!– thankfully I was not- they were headed to another city) After the commotion got over, i walked to the staff member, congratulated him and his team for imagination their dignity in face of this mob like behaviour, then I asked him, “how do you guys manage this”- day in day out?, his reply was crisp and to the point- “We are trained to deal with this”– this is what is so wonderful about aviation- training that really kicks in like your skin and helps to overcome seemingly chaotic situations in no time!
Patience and a cool head (cool cool working head!): Yes this is the essence of everyone on the job in aviation- whether it is the ATC juggling with a number of flights criss-crossing the area control or a patch of clear air turbulence or flying through a patch of dense clouds offering moderate turbulence, landing in gushing rain or with cross winds- all is part of a day’s work for these fantastic people- and yes all this; they owe to their continuing training, hard-work and one simple fact that they all know- there is no back up to them! You may have the smartest of automation and technology at your disposal- but when it comes to making choices between life and certain death- it is the earned stripes on shoulder of the flight captain,that come to the rescue and the Lead Cabin crew’s presence of mind and her effective direction to her team mates which controls a crowd of around 200 people in every emergency to ensure that you are safe!
It is such a pity that an average flyer thinks of the airport staff and flight crew as a taken-for -granted- service , just to serve food, pick the trays or have you flown in and out- rarely do they ever come to know what all has gone behind the scenes just to ensure that you stay alive! rarely people know, they are trained first aides, fire fighters, CPR providers, in that rarest of rare case- help deliver a baby on board, have anti-allergens handy (if you let them know before).
It is these fascinating men and women-who turn a reinforced metal tube into flowing poetry over the clouds- the next best thing that one can enjoy apart from being in space! I could have gone on and one explaining what other fascinating facets this sector brings forth, but would like to leave that to your thinking and reflection, the next time you take your seat on an aircraft, show some respect and gratitude and when you deplane- say a Thank you! from the bottom of your heart! Trust me they have earned every bit of it- be polite and be nice- each one comes from a context and has a battle within even as we work- these wonderful people not only do a job- but excel at it, each time and every time- for in their job- they seldom get a chance to correct a mistake!
The next time you fly, listen, pay attention and co-operate and make them feel a little good, that all their effort to keep you safe has been rewarded by your well mannered behavior and cultured conduct!
Ciao for now, have to board my flight! will be back soon with another piece…but yes- stay humble and stay wise- remember the times when your life was literally in someone else’s hand- 35,000 feet above the earth!
Happy flying and Happy reading- stay safe and fly safe! May Godspeed be with you!