its an IFR flight, most pilots will
take off without an alternate airport in
mind. We all do it. But a VFR
trip isnt usually planned without a
thorough check of the weather at the
destination airport. So in most
cases, theres no need for that
Plan B. Besides, pilots
are usually pretty capable of formulating
another plan if things start to go sour.
Having a backup plan is something that
should not be confined to flying
someplace. Were often forced
to deviate from an initial choice even in
the supermarket when our favorite brand
of bread, for example, is out of stock.
We intend to buy brand A, we
dont think about the brand
B until we see there is no
A left on the shelf.
If we get bogged down in heavy traffic or
theres an accident on the freeway
on our way to work, we can re-program the
street-map GPS and deviate around it.
Some choices and alternate plans are
easier to formulate than others. But
the principles remain the same. The
plan B applies in life
choices too. As I approached
retirement, all my weekends and days off
work became time to practice for it.
I would do the fun things and think of
doing them as retirement
practice. I would focused on
activities and attitudes that a person
could expect to experience after he
retires. Questions would come up,
like could I get accustomed to
sleeping late in the morning? Would
I feel like Im wasting time? What
could I be doing with all the leisure
time? It was a rehearsal for
the big show, the show that went on and
on. I was working on a plan that
was an alternative to working everyday.
The advice from articles and books about
retirement talked about missing the daily
contact with colleagues and the rest of
the outside world.
Strangely, that never occurred to me
during the months and years leading up to
retirement, but did actually happen
later. During the
practice times, I focused on the good
things to be enjoyed once the work was
out of the way.
For pilots, there is always the distinct
possibility of retirement being forced
upon us before were ready. The
aviation medical examiners will tell you
they are there to help keep us flying,
and I believe most of them are quite
honestly on our side. With appeals,
in many cases losing a medical will be
only temporary. However, when the
time comes to hang up the headphones for
good, we better have a Plan
I wrote about this back in 2006. That
article discussed how some people hang on
to their jobs or careers far past the
time they ought to be out. When a
person becomes incapable of performing
the tasks at hand, sometimes the
retirement decision is not his to make.
In commercial aviation, thats a
good thing. You flunk the medical,
and youre out. If it were any
different we may all be asking ourselves
about the capabilities of that old pilot
sitting up there in the cockpit.
The lucky folks in this world are those
with a real passion for something. Whatever
it is, golf, gardening, sailing, or
building something, these are the ones,
whether they know it or not, who already
have their plan B. When they are
forced to retire from a job, theyre
able to turn to their hobbies.
Those without another passion, or another
interest, are still at an exciting point
in their lives, exploring all the
possibilities and opportunities that are
out there. Life goes on.
It waits for no one. Its up
to us to grasp the days, the ideas, the
possibilities and opportunities. When
flying is no longer an option, the door
is open to all the other things
weve been missing.