Take IV new PS subject

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Take IV new PS subject

Postby JCFindley » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:05 pm

I know I may wear out my welcome with constant new PS subjects but appreciate any input on this one will be greatly appreciated.

I don't really like the final paragraph and the tie to why this experience helps shape my desire to attend law school. I am going to work on it but suggestions are more than welcome.

Thanks again,


As I read the accident report blaming pilot error for the crash I thought to myself that I would have flown the mission the same way and it would have ended with the same results. The Air Force lost a C-130 transport aircraft and more importantly nine people were dead. The accident report stated that the pilots did not plan and fly the departure procedure correctly but there was more to the story than that. My job was to train Instructor Pilots. Before that I had been an Instructor Pilot for new Air Force Pilots. I had trained aviators to plan and fly departures just as the mishap crew had flown this one. I talked to my fellow instructors and they also trained people the same way on the same procedures. We too had all been trained to plan and fly them just as this crew had. Surely there was another reason this crew crashed.

I researched how departure procedures were constructed and how the Air Force regulations dictated we fly them. The Air Force regulations stated that civilian departure procedures do not apply to Air Force pilots except that we had to meet any published climb gradients. The C-130 crew had followed this guidance to the letter and died. The Air Force guidance was wrong!

As a junior officer I was not in a position to tell the Air Force leadership that the regulations were wrong and there was a systemic problem in how we trained our pilots. I needed irrefutable proof that the decision makers would listen to. I went to the Air Force experts on instrument flight procedures at the Advanced Instrument School and voiced my concerns. The commander of the Advanced Instrument School agreed with my assertions and hired me as an instructor on the spot. I had the normal duties as an instructor at the school but was allowed time to research and develop evidence to support my theory on departures. I studied how departure procedures are developed to keep aircraft from impacting the ground on departure. I researched what role Air Traffic Controllers play keeping departing aircraft safe. I researched how the Air Force trained its pilots both at pilot training and in advanced courses. I meticulously documented all of the results. After gathering the facts I developed a presentation showing my results and that a similar accident was likely to happen again without change.

I then began the task of trying to change the regulations and the way we trained pilots. My commander agreed with my assessments and was the first to help me. We began attending training and safety conferences presenting our findings and recommendations. We received resistance to change and often heard that if the system was broken then departure accidents would happen more often. To counter that argument I had evidence that showed why they were rare but likely to happen again unless the Air Force altered the regulations and training. More and more people began to understand and we gathered supporters as we moved towards presenting our case to the people that could make the sweeping changes we proposed. It took a year but we were able to present our case to the Air Force leadership and they agreed that the changes were necessary.

Once the decision to change the regulations and training procedures was made I helped write the new rules and guidelines. The current pilot force also needed to be informed of the changes in procedure. I helped with that process by writing articles that were published in Air Force and civilian flying magazines. I volunteered and taught training seminars at Air Force bases across the United States, Europe and the Pacific.

This experience is one of the most satisfying of my Air Force career. It is influential in my love of research and the practical application of that information. The way things are worded can mean the difference between life and death. I am pursuing a career in law because I enjoy research, presenting the information from that research and making a difference.

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