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

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 – F-16 E/F Terrain Following ‘Anomaly’

Fate, Luck and Choice – F-16 E/F Terrain Following ‘Anomaly’

For many of us, the road we follow is deliberate but sometimes three forces play into life’s outcomes: luck, choice, or fate. This is likely truer in aviation than in other vocations, at least if you stay long enough. And that is certainly the case with me and a near fatal event during an F-16 Radar Terrain Following test flying over the Gulf of Mexico when the jet suffered an ‘anomaly’ in the flight control system and pushed hard over when flying at 600 knots and 100 feet above the water.