Monday, May 29, 2017

Gerald “Jerry” Krueger: Look for the pilots with gray hair

Aging is an experience most people will deal with sooner or later. 

The advantages of getting old are quite numerous when you stop to think about it.

The longer you exist in old age the better you become at handling adversity. 

You don’t find yourself brooding over someone or something and just let it fly on by. 

The fact that our senses begin to diminish is not all bad. 

Being too sensitive most of our lives was usually a burden we are relieved of now.

It doesn’t take much observing to notice who is old and who is not. 

The usual appearance of older people is mainly due to the color of our hair and the amount of wrinkles emerging strongly throughout the body.

When I was a senior captain of an airliner, it was amusing to watch boarding passengers and invariably a few would stick their heads in the cockpit and utter the familiar words. “Just checking if we have gray hair in the left seat.” “We sure like experience flying us safely ya know?”

Somehow there is a little head-scratching there, when we wonder if somehow gray hair and competence go hand-in-hand. But the vital interest in the experience of pilots is always on the minds of the traveling public. The more you do something the better you get at it. Many airline pilots these days have in excess of 20,000 hours flying experience. And it should be mentioned that the reliability of present day airliners is at an unbelievable state. The makers and maintainers of airliners these days is so exemplary and professional.

The one variable that can cause consternation in the cockpit of an airliner is still the weather. Unpredictable as it is experts have to still admit that weather is Mother Nature’s way of keeping us in the dark about what she has in store for us. Thunderstorms and wind-shear are still the nemesis of aviation.

It will have to be admitted that experience is wonderful in so many ways. The more you do something the more talented and adept you become. As a captain I was so confident that any problem I faced I believed I would handle, short of the failure of all engines. And even Old Captain Sullenberger proved that situation could also be handled in grand fashion. After watching the movie and reading all that could be read, the thing that jumps out at you was the crew only had three minutes and 28 second from bird strike to the water on the Hudson River.

That experience catapulted Old Sully to the top of fame forever. That airmanship was the utmost of skills. If one wing was just down a tiny bit that air machine would have cartwheeled and caused much loss of life. But it didn’t and Sully did a masterful job of keeping that airplane exactly level and on speed. The other observation about old Sully was the way he handled his newfound fame so quickly. He is the perfect example of how to benefit from his unbelievable feat by showing what experience can bring to a serious situation.

Something should also be said about the durability of today’s airliners to withstand a water landing.

Nuff said.

Gerald “Jerry” Krueger is a retired educator, coach, commercial pilot and farmer. 

Original article can be found here:

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