Billie Flynn

CD, MBA, MSc

40 YEARS LIVING FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF SOUND

Combat Commander.  5th Gen Experimental Test Pilot.  Airshow Pilot.

Billie Flynn connects the dots from pushing the envelope to business and life lessons learned.

 

Find out for yourself…

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Recognized as a worldwide expert in aviation

5th Generation fighter aircraft development, Aerospace, and Defence strategies.

Organizational Culture, Toxicity & Flight Safety – ’20 Years Done’ Podcast

Interview with Chris McGhee on his ’20 Years Done’ Podcast discussing our parallel Air Force worlds. We dealt with organizational culture, toxicity and flight safety. Dissected “The Hole in the Wall Gang” story from a broader perspective than previously analyzed.

Dropping the Ball Again – Canadian Fighter Pilot Training

The recent retirement of the RCAF’s 419 Squadron, based in Cold Lake, Alberta ended fighter pilot training in Canada.  NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) is the very successful pilot training program that has flown the CT-155 Hawk jet for 24 years, creating baby fighter pilots, teaching them basic fighter pilot skill sets.  Sovereign Fighter-Lead-In-Training (FLIT), which is also called Phase IV in pilot training parlance, has graduated wannabe fighter pilots who were capable, safe, and effective as they moved on to learn to fly the more advanced CF-18 Hornet.

As it turns out, RCAF officials cancelled this program with perfectly capable jets to fly, trained instructors and maintenance personnel available at a time when the air force is desperately short of fighter pilots and with very little access to training programs to refill their ranks.  There are only 42 combat-ready fighter pilots in the RCAF, not enough to sufficiently man the CF-18s to protect our country or support operations abroad.  With 88 F-35s to be delivered in the coming years, and a severe shortage of trained pilots, instead of leveraging existing sovereign training capability, RCAF officials just shot themselves in the foot and cut off their own elite, highly successful fighter pilot training program. The decision they took is now to outsource all of that training out-of-country at enormous additional expense.

Flying and the Perrier Bottle

Flying is a Performance just like a sporting competition. And once we grasp this concept, our approach to preparing for flying missions changes because we realize the strains that we are going to put our bodies through. When we demand extraordinary performance on a fighter mission set or during a test mission, everything matters. Fighter pilots ‘dogfighting’ one against each other demands the best of each of us. Get into an F-16, pin yourself to the back of the seat, crushed at 9g during a fight, and you quickly realize just how physical the act of flying is. Nutrition and proper hydration and what you drink matters. And so does warding off Tactical Dehydration.

Balkan Rats – 25 Years On

The Canadian CF-18 Composite Wing, the ‘Balkan Rats’, that flew combat during Operation Allied Force, 25 years ago, propelled a peacetime air force to mold itself into a more capable and lethal fighter force.

Fate, Luck and Choice – Gifted…or Not…

It’s not how you fail; it’s how you get back up. I want pilots who have failed and showed the strength to recover and succeed. If they don’t have scars, they don’t have character and when the shit hits the fan, they won’t know what to do and will cave. I want the ones who failed, got back up and moved forward.

NATO vs Russian Pilots

Who is better?  Western trained fighter pilots or products of the Russian system.  Most fighter pilots know that Russian and ‘Eastern trained’ pilots are not as capable as Western trained aviators.  We all likely agree that NATO would win handily in any air battle with Russian forces.

Fate, Luck and Choice – The Kenny Switch

None of us live long enough to make all the mistakes so learn from others. In fighter aviation, flights seldom go as planned. We can learn from mistakes of others so that we don’t make them ourselves instead of pointing fingers and ridiculing others. I choose to learn. June 4, 1985, I was on the wing during a formation takeoff of CF-18s when my flight lead could not get airborne, aborted but could not stop in time and ultimately ejected as the aircraft exploded. He lived fortunately. It turns out that a simple pilot-induced trim setting error prevented the jet from getting airborne.

There was so much to learn from this, primarily to avoid distraction from media and outside attention when flying, to always be vigilant, especially when we change procedures and habit patterns, that it is okay to make the small mistakes so that I don’t make the big ones and finally, to trust my instincts when I sense that something is not quite right. Lots to learn each time we fly.

Fate, Luck and Choice – The Hole in the Wall Gang

One of the key lessons that I have learned over the years as a test pilot is that the success of any team or organization is contingent on strong leadership with core values. Teams need an environment of trust as well as a transparent and ‘safe workplace’ to openly identify challenges and get to the bottom of problems, most importantly, learn from each other’s mistakes. With these traits, we can create powerful, effective, and ultimately very successful organizations. One of the most serious threats to an extremely cohesive functional team is toxicity. Toxic leadership can destabilize the ability of a test flying unit to operate safely. A toxic work environment erodes the ‘team’ and in the world of experimental test flying (maybe one of the most dangerous environments that exists), it can kill people.

Fate, Luck and Choice – Shortest F-5 Landing Rollout Ever

40 years ago, I was involved in the crash of a 2 seat CF-5 attempting a landing on a snowy runway. My instructor in the front seat was severely injured, I luckily walked away without a scratch. The life lessons that I took from that accident helped shape my life and flying career for the many decades after. I learned how ‘good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment’. I learned about Crew Resource Management and how everyone gets a say in decisions regardless of their experience level. I saw how Elasticity came to help save us though often said in Hollywood terms about ‘Ice running through their veins’. The value of ‘Sets and Reps’, getting extra simulator time and practice is crucial. When something life threatening happens, getting back in the saddle as soon as possible gets us past self-doubt and messing with our minds. Finally, as a young fighter pilot, I was reminded that we only get one life and not to waste it. All those lessons from a single crash landing. Invaluable yet sadly very expensive at the cost of a $Million fighter jet.

The Merge Podcast Episode

The RCAF has never been in such a desperate state in its 100 year history. Spoke with Mike Benitez on The Merge Podcast about the Canadian fighter force at length on many issues facing the RCAF personnel.

Contact Billie:

Cell:  817-675-6441

billie@billieflynn.com

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