All too often pilots take flying for granted in different ways. Maybe it’s because the pilot owns an airplane, which they are the only one to fly and they know the machine inside and out. Maybe it’s because the route of flight on a given day is the same exact flight, flown over and over again… For various reasons pilots can fall into the trap of complacency when it comes to familiar trips and flights, just as anyone can at any time outside of aviation.
Luckily, in aviation we have a great role model to look to, Santa Claus. Year after year Santa makes his round the world flight, the longest and most intense general aviation flight of the year! Each year he flies from rooftop to rooftop, airport to airport and building to building visiting the homes of billions around the world.
Santa doesn’t just hop in the sleigh with his nine reindeer and “go for it.” No, no… Santa spends most of the year planning his flights amongst his many other Santa duties including oversight of the elf’s toy production efforts, managing the naughty/nice list (quite a task these days!) and of course ensuring the remote located magnetic North Pole itself is fully functional. The magnetic compasses in aircraft around the world need to work well all the time, and this little-known Santa duty is vital to aviation safety throughout the year!
By the time Santa departs for his annual Christmas Even flight while we’re getting into bed with milk, cookies and carrots left by the chimney, Santa has practiced his approaches onto a variety of rooftops. He has ensured his weight and balance calculations are correct for the constantly changing load as he makes deliveries during the night. Lastly, Santa plans his flight around the world based on homes he knows are leaving a good helping of carrots for his reindeer, plus just in case some families forget the carrots, Santa plans his alternates at different airports, all of which have line staff on service ready to help when called upon.
Long before the Wright Brothers, Santa started making his flights and he has maintained a spotless safety record, an astounding feat when you consider how many flights he’s made. But that’s what happens when a pilot is adequately prepared, and gets a little lucky too!
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9