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Other Sunday Thoughts


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The truth is that your initial training, while crucial for extablishing the basics in elementary learning, it just a starting point, and once you have finished your training, nobody cares where you trained.


Each element of your skillset is taught one step at a time; some early-on, some much later. What you have learned early in your career, you will re-learn again and again. What you know today, you'll know tomorrow, but differently.


I learned to fly in the mountains. Not little ones. It's all I knew. When I first moved to flat land at lower elevations, it was a first. I couldn't figure out simple things, like judging cloud height; I'd always compared them to the mountains, but now there were no mountains.


Later I learned low altitude operations in the mountains. I was flying heavy fixed wing air tankers, and though my first work after high school was fixed wing ag in the flat-lands, as a teen, and though I grew up in the mountains and learned to fly there, the experience was new. Large, heavy airplanes down narrow canyons, precision drops in severe turbulence; what I'd done in the past and where I'd been became useful for reference, but largely irrelevant to the task at hand. People weren't interested in my logbook, and nobody asked where I learned to fly or what I'd done. The only flight hour that they were interested in was the next one I'd fly, and then the one after that.


I might have tens of thousands of landings, but the only one that counts is the one coming up. If I make an error or damage something, then nobody cares about any that came before. Much like where I trained.


Insurance companies look to training in the short term; did you attend Flight Safety or a Robinson course recently? That's one thing. If I attended FSI ten years ago, however, nobody cares, and to this day, nobody asks me if I trained in the mountains or the flat lands, what aircraft I learned to fly in, etc.


I held an instrument rating, but not for a number of years of commercial flying. After I got it, I learned that flying in the weather and clouds and fog was quite different than flying with a hood. I learned about flying in ice, and later about flying in thunderstorms (was involved in atmospheric research, doing thunderstorm penetration). I learned first hand just why they're dangerous, and the perspective is different than simply reading about it, or being told by an instructor. My experience in talking about them and teaching about them colors my perspective, too, as it does my behavior in selecting a flight path near or around a thunderstorm.


I don't recall any employer, however, ever indicating that this experience makes me a more desirable or valuable as a prospective employee. It certainly enhances my personal view, an affects my judgement in day to day operations. Perhaps learning to fly near small mountains has done the same for you. Your perspective and understanding that came from having small mountains in the general vicinity of your geographical training location, however, will change through time and more experience. What you think you know today, you will know differently tomorrow.


Be grateful for your experiences, for the decisions that you make as a result of those experiences help determine who you are as a person and an aviator. Who you are will change, however, as will the way in which you view those experiences, and their meaning to you and to your career. Recency of experience counts for a lot, and always guard against resting on your laurels.

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