Fate, Luck and Choice – The Kenny Switch

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 – Shortest F-5 Landing Rollout Ever

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.