By Chief Warrant Officer 3 Justin Bielss, Company B, 1st Battalion, 114th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support), Arkansas Army National GuardMarch 8, 2019
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 8, 2019) - We should not just learn from our mistakes, but also teach from them. Mistakes are a common occurrence for all of us and can be as small as leaving our common access card (CAC) in a computer to forgetting to close out a fuel check. Some mistakes could even result in a Class A accident.
Being human not only guarantees we will make mistakes, but that we will continue to make them in the future. So why is our first reaction to making a mistake to try and cover it up? Yes, mistakes are embarrassing and we, as professionals, do not like to announce them. But why should we be the only ones to learn from our mistakes? I feel it is our obligation to share them with others so they can learn from them too. It might save someone's life.
Early in my aviation career when I was an OH-58A/C crew chief, I learned a valuable lesson. When I was TDY on a mission working on -58s, one of the veteran aviators, a Vietnam-era pilot with more than 30 years and thousands of flight hours, shared a mistake he had made.
He had departed single pilot en route to a TDY location. Shortly after takeoff, he realized the airspeed indicator was not operating properly because it indicated only 15 knots when he knew he was traveling much faster. He quickly began to assess the situation to determine the issue. While crosschecking his instruments and running through possible reasons in his mind, it occurred to him what had happened. He leaned forward in the seat, looked at the nose of the aircraft and saw the cover was still attached to the pitot tube. After landing at a nearby airport and removing the cover, all was well.
He was alone in the aircraft and could have kept the mistake to himself, but he chose to share it. He realized mistakes happen, and if we don't share them, others could make the same errors.
Hearing about a simple mistake this seasoned aviator made had a tremendous impact on me. It changed how I not only view mistakes I make, but also how I view those others make. It taught me that I also should be able to share my mistakes -- no matter how embarrassing they may be -- so others might possibly avoid them in the future. It is vital that we, as professionals and leaders, encourage others to share their mistakes and experiences. If we do not, we are missing a valuable training opportunity.
Later in my career, after becoming a pilot flying OH-58A/Cs, I always thought of that seasoned aviator's mistake when I performed my preflight. It served as a good reminder to always remove the pitot tube cover. I was fortunate enough to learn this lesson early in my career. Now, I always teach from the mistakes I make so I am not the only one learning from them.
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