Proficiency: A way of life

September 4th, 2013 by Jack Olcott

Some clichés contain solid truths.  Regarding Business Aviation, a saying attributed to Confucius comes to mind:  Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.  Rarely—never might be more accurate—will you find an aviator who flies for a living saying that he or she became a salaried pilot because of family pressures or the expectation to make millions.  They choose aviation out of a passion for the field.  Furthermore, that love of flying most likely began at an early age.

Being a professional pilot is not easy.  Those who pursue that field must pay their dues—intense training, long days laboring in the vineyards (so to speak), selecting areas of operation that often are far removed from home and hearth.  Obtaining the knowledge and skill to be successful in professional aviation is expensive in money and time.  Those sufficiently fortunate to be admitted to a military aviation program commit to a decade or more of service.  Aviators who enter the profession from a civilian track invest considerable funds as well as years of “building time”.   Their commitment is Confucius’ wisdom personified.

Mostly, the professional aviator must develop a proficiency in aeronautical knowledge and skill that is sufficient to deal with the many challenges of flight.  Mastering the latest in technology found in today’s business jet requires in-depth training and understanding.  Possessing the skill to smoothly (and obviously successfully) negotiate an instrument approach at an unfamiliar airfield is the stuff of real-world accomplishment.   Knowledge and skill, maintained at the highest level of currency, are necessary requirements for the professional aviator.

Similarly, a high level of proficiency is required for all who fly.  While the private pilot enjoying the pleasure of flying a Top Cub on a CAVU day requires a different tool box of knowledge and skill than does the captain of a business jet operating internationally, in each case the pilot’s proficiency must be aligned with the flight’s requirements.  All aviators are wise to embrace the professional’s respect for flight and dedication to being prepared.

The “Sunday Pilot” can learn from the “Seasoned Professional”.  The need for relevant proficiency is universal.   The opportunity for professionals to serve as aeronautical role models is real and fulfilling.

Jack Olcott

Jack Olcott is president of General Aero Co. and past president of the National Business Aviation Association. Olcott has a rich history in aviation, including working as a flight instructor and flight research specialist, leading aviation media properties for McGraw-Hill, and serving on various advisory boards and councils. His current activities involve advocating the advantages of business aviation domestically as well as internationally. Olcott has more than 8,500 hours of flight time and type ratings in a Learjet, Citation I and II, Dassault Falcon 50/900, and Beech Model 300/1900.

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