A Precautionary Landing for All of Us

From NAFI's Chair

A Precautionary Landing for All of Us

There are number of "standard" questions asked of applicants during various practical tests. One that is asked of private pilot candidates, and that I ask my students at all levels all the time goes something like this: "If the oil pressure gauge falls to zero, but the engine temperature remains normal, what action should you take?" We all know the answer is "land as soon as practicable," because if there are no other indications of engine problems, most likely the gauge is broken and we just need to land at an airport and get things checked. We don't have to make an emergency landing in a field or go through any other heroic efforts. But landing is a good idea, because we really don't know why the gauge isn't working and it could very well be something much more dire. Of course, it's inconvenient, but it's an approach to the problem with the least possible consequences.

Right now, that is where we are with the Covid-19 emergency. By stepping back and modifying our behavior for a relatively short time, we are making the societal equivalent of a precautionary landing. Many events, meetings, gatherings, what-have-you, have been cancelled or postponed. When you look below, you'll see headlines reflecting the number of aviation events that are involved. Maybe it's being overly cautious, but I, for one, would rather see us err on the side of caution, as did, for example, Sun 'n Fun, NBAA, AOPA, EAA, and others. As Dr. Anthony Fauci said: "I lIke it when people are thinking I'm overreacting because that means we're doing it just right."

Another truism in aviation is that panic kills. The aviation industry has been particularly hard it, similar to what happened after 9-11. Airlines are cutting back, trying to contain costs, making extremely difficult decisions regarding personnel, operations, and so on. This is leading many to say that the industry will fall on hard times and that the recovery will be long and painful. My take on the situation is a bit different.

Unlike 9-11, where no one was sure when or how the terrorist threat would be mitigated, this will run its course. If we all do the right things, that will happen sooner than later. There was a huge demand for aviation before this pandemic started, and there will be one after it ends, if for no other reason that our modern society has fully integrated aviation into its infrastructure. Like getting through turbulence, this will be uncomfortable, even jarring, but if we don't panic, we'll get through it.

One of the ways you can help NAFI in getting through these times is by renewing online. As I write this, our bank in Michigan has restricted banking to drive-in only, resulting in long lines. By clicking here, to renew your membership, you will be helping our Administrative Coordinator Sharon Tackabury immensely by limiting the number of physical bank deposits that she has to make. While you are logged in, consider automatic renewal to make it even more convenient for yourself.

Stay safe, stay calm, and keep washing your hands!


Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair
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