By: Michael S. Hatfield
June 8, 2015
Sometime near the beginning of a 25-year airline career found me as a young third pilot on a Boeing 727 flying from Dallas Fort Worth airport to Minneapolis St. Paul. The First Officer who was flying the airplane discovered he was too high on the Approach to land and had to execute a Go-Around maneuver.
After landing several minutes later, the Captain leaned over and gently said to the Co-Pilot, “the approach was just fine, Bill. When they changed runways on us, you ended up a bit too high to land. Now, let’s find us some lunch.” The Co-Pilot acknowledged, uttering further evaluation on his own performance, and vowed to “work on it some more.” It was lunch time.
It could have gone the other way if Bill had adopted a self-defensive attitude and/or resentment. Defensive attitudes inhibit personal growth from learning from others who have already “been there.” Fortunately, Bill had learned to accept constructive criticism somewhere along the way in his life. These men were true professionals and I was learning from them. Things were “how it should be… ”
Airline pilots spend up to 15 hours in one day working within three feet of each other experiencing many types of stressors. Any behavioral deficiency that might exist in a crew member’s personality is likely to come out at the most inopportune of times.
A crew member’s ability to self-evaluate and accept meaningful comments from others is ranked by co-workers in invisible ink next to each pilot’s name on the Pilot Seniority list. Your behavior, and in particular one’s integrity, is always being observed–in the cockpit, at the lunch counter, or in the Terminal.
Necessarily, airlines spend millions of dollars in training flight crews on how to get along because it pays moral gains in Passenger Safety. It makes sense that if crew members are getting along with each other, the flight will be inherently safer.
So, you say, how does one constructively criticize others and have some good come of it? Well, I say, “sometimes, you just can’t as some people are like “closed parachutes” and not open to suggestions.”
Much of what one knows and how they are able to do-what-they-do has come from an individual’s own personal experiences. Eventually, one discovers that integrity and the ability to accept constructive criticism is a learned skill that develops and matures from being open to suggestions from other people. It then is a matter of improvement of the skill from application of practice and exercise.
Being able to deal effectively with others seems to be somewhat of a challenge for most humans. When I was young, it was a much, much, much bigger challenge!
Eager to “bring along” a new pilot to the airline, this very same not-so-old Captain later told me that there are only “Four Types of Pilots.”
“A Number Four Pilot is one who doesn’t particularly excel in the cockpit and doesn’t do all that great with crew on layovers. A Number Three Pilot gets along great with crew at dinner but doesn’t excel in flying the jet. A Number Two Pilot does super in the cockpit but is just awful interacting with people, and the Number One Type of Pilot is what we all try to aspire to. A Number One Type is great flying the jet and great hanging out with others.”
In a kindly way, this experienced Captain let me know the airline business is not just about flying the machine. There are other very important human elements involved.
Confucius once said, “chose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
Whether its flying jets or serving valued clients, one learns from listening to well-intentioned suggestions from others. And, there is joy and harmony getting along with fellow humans.
Michael Hatfield thoroughly enjoys working with quality clients as a Real Estate Broker with RE/MAX Accord in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. He has a passion for working with people and delights in applying his past experience as a Home Builder, Developer, and former Company President and CEO to the real estate goals of his clients.
Michael also served as a Captain and FAA Designated Lead Airline Check Pilot for one of the nation’s largest Domestic and International Passenger Airlines. He has authored numerous articles on Airline and Real Estate matters, and has been featured on Radio Talk Shows and Seminars.
He may be reached at (925) 322-7775 or at email@example.com. His offices are in Danville, California.