One important skill pilots need to be good at is certainly handling stress. We train ourselves to rapidly react to different emergencies by repeating and repeating procedures through simulations. Although, I always wondered if I would know how to react in a real situation.
One late night, this week, as I was ending my day, we received a PIREP (pilot report) from one of our plane flying in the area. They were reporting some snow and low clouds reducing visibility around. I rapidly thought that we needed to get the planes back to the airport and safe on the ground; many students were flying in solo between the airports around for their training at the time.
As a matter of fact, the dispatcher that night; an employee new to the job for a couple weeks, was in charge of the operations. I always thought that job was the most difficult position at the school because they need to get the operations moving as well as knowing where every planes are and finally communicating all that information to the appropriate persons in charge (management, maintenance, students…). Talking of handling the stress, I think dispatchers have it understood.
Anyhow, that night, voluntarily, without thinking much about it, I started to help the dispatcher into calling back our planes flying. Contacting planes in flight is more difficult that you might think, radio waves being line of sight once the students are beyond a certain distance from the airport we need to ask help from air traffic controllers and other planes in between them and us to establish contact.
Adrenaline is wonderful, give you the energy and the attention you need to accomplish the tasks needed. There was no real emergency, but certainly a concern for the safety of those solo flights that night.
By 3 am, an hour later, we had everyone on the ground, and the weather in the area was actually getting better! Now looking back to this event, I know a little bit better how I would react in a real emergency situation (I’m touching wood… I don’t want to have to deal with a real emergency). I feel like I tested my nerves without knowing it, and I am pretty happy of the way we were able to handle the situation as a team even without knowing each other in the first place.
Finally, I think that solving problems is for me a lot of fun. I confirmed to myself that I love my job and that I enjoy that adrenaline rush it provides me with at certain times. Isn’t it what my parents thought me? To find a career that I would like and enjoy going to work every day.