A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.

January 2006

New Years Resolutions

Two thousand and six. I still have trouble talking about a year that begins with two thousand. Nineteen ...... that's what a year should sound like. Nineteen sixty, or nineteen eighty nine or nineteen ten. Who in the future will be comfortable stating their birthday as two thousand and ten? Sounds more like a science fiction movie.

But time marches on. I don't consider myself an old geezer yet, although that description can't be too far in the future. Already I find it more difficult to remember exact dates, and when telling a story will struggle with a date by drawing it out. "That was back in nineteeeeeeen ... whatever " . Like my grandpa used to do. And all the old war veterans. Come to think of it, my dad does it a lot. As I said, time marches on. We can run but we can't hide. We're getting older, one day at a time.

Consider for a moment, that airplane you have sitting out in the hangar. There's a good chance it's actually older than you are. But we don't call it an old geezer. It's still airworthy, and quite possibly better than when it was built, back in nineteen sixty five, or whenever. At least once a year she gets someone's full attention, a couple of replacement parts and sometimes even a piece of new equipment, which is better than the original. We treat most airplanes better than we treat ourselves, or each other.

Each new year brings the opportunity for some kind of renewal. A New Years resolution, a promise we make to improve or change something about ourselves. I wonder how many pilots have thought to call it an"annual" instead of a resolution. Quite apart from the medical where we take stock of our physical health, the "annual" could be a checkup on our mental and emotional well being.

The checklist could include things like how considerate, trustworthy, compassionate, caring and thoughtful we've been to other people, and to ourselves. What values we've honored in the past year. What we've done to enhance our families, our communities, our friends and ourselves. Basically we'd be taking stock of our own integrity to be sure we're operating to optimum standards.

Someone would have to set the standards, design the checklist, and even issue the A.D.'s. Obviously, that would be you, as the owner/builder of your thoughts, the person authorized for maintenance and responsible for the upkeep.

We constantly seek ways to improve our airplanes. Why then should we neglect our performance as humans? New years resolutions could go a long way toward such a noble goal. But consider that when an airplane falters, an airworthiness directive (A.D.) is issued. Inspection and or maintenance is required before it\rquote s ready to fly again. Waiting for New Years is not an option. So why wait until January 1rst to start improving our personal lives? Any day of the year can be a good time for a resolution.

The annual inspection on our airplanes is invariably more complicated and costly than expected. But the comfort, the security and confidence we feel when flying it the rest of the year, makes it worth every cent. Annual maintenance of our bodies and minds should be a priority as well, so that when we need the power to go for a bike ride, a walk, to mow the lawn or just pick up the tv remote, it\rquote s always there. And when we need to make a serious, complicated decision, we can rely on a set of internalized moral values and standards that are well maintained, updated and current. One more benefit of the body and mind annual, could be an increase in the TBO. We might even get by without a complete overhaul.

Getting comfortable with this "year two thousand and six" stuff will take me some time and a fresh way of thinking. It's all about change, all part of keeping an open and healthy mind. I figure on needing some help from my children with that. If I can keep my mind open to them.

Happy New Year, 2006.

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