All of us are feeling the effects of this international emergency called COVID-19. May I share with you a rule aviators know will save lives in an emergency?
Every aviator is taught three words to help manage emergency situations: Aviate, Navigate and Communicate. Pilots memorize and execute this simple rule in that order.
The first rule pilots must obey is FLY THE AIRCRAFT! I recently talked with an aviator who took off on a mission that went to hell shortly after arriving over Afghanistan. He and his wingman were tasked to help cover the rescue of a Navy SEAL team fighting for their lives atop a mountain. His unit had not dropped a single bomb in 30 days and had NEVER shot their gun at ground targets, yet had to lay down cover fire with 75 meters of the SEAL Team. Precise control of the aircraft, bullets and bombs allowed them to suppress enemy fire Danger Close to the SEAL Team. The first priority is maintaining control of your personal jet when Old Man Chaos enters your life. Set and maintain your priorities moving forward in this pandemic event: the aircraft has yourself, family and friends inside. Fly your jet!
The second rule is Navigate… set a course but prepare for deviations. One of the strongest typhoons ever recorded threatened Okinawa. My crew departed in one of the sportiest takeoffs we’d ever experienced. Navigating north our radar showed strong thunderstorms ahead. Moments later a bright flash went through the jet. We’d been struck by lightning. All systems blinked but settled and we continued picking our way through until landing in Guam hours later. Expect some deviations and midcourse corrections as bumps and bolts appear on the horizon. New habit patterns may be required so don’t be afraid of changes. Those one degree heading changes or one percent increase in thrust may be better in the long run when settle in the new normal.
Lastly, communicate. If feeling ill call the doctor and get seen. Tell those medical professionals how grateful you are for their efforts because they are overworked and real tired right now. If tested positive, let friends and family know and STAY home. It’s a good time to start a telephone ministry. Take some time to call family and friends. A five-minute conversation will mean the world to those most susceptible to this virus strain. Stay connected to those around you because a lot of people are frightened right now moving into what may be a new normal.
Aviate, Navigate and Communicate.