This past weekend was pilot’s meeting. Two long days of meetings, revision and simulation exercises to keep our MAF pilots working effectively and safely.
One thing I have been thankful for recently is the way MAF approaches safety and the professionalism of its pilots. Not only do they have compulsory this weekend of professional development and training, but this is ongoing throughout the year as well. Just last week Jason had his six monthly check flight, where a more senior pilot flies with him for a large part of the day, watching and assessing how he does his job. The regularity of these checks help to keep pilots flying well and hopefully stops them falling into complacency about how they do their job, a danger that can lead to accidents.
Our family headed into Gove this time, with Jason so Kim could get some more medical checks done. One of the other families from Elcho came too, so we house shared for a few days in Yirrkala while the boys were at their meetings. We enjoyed some of the luxuries of town, friends to catch up with, a bakery to buy rolls, the supermarket (we had run out of honey and tomato sauce – disastrous to the males of this household), somewhere to eat out for dinner, bubble wands on sale for 80 cents each, the local library for story time, different DVD collections to borrow from (I have finally seen Frozen now!) and the hospital to get those medical checks done. We got to spend time with Rachel, our fellow pilot and friend from Numbulwar, and she spoiled us with lasagne and the use of her home. On the way home Sam executed the proper use of a sick bag in the plane, what a relief! No more cleaning him, the car seat and the plane for us…. We hope! It was a bumpy flight unfortunately and so Jason’s record of no vomiting passengers ever on one of his flights was destroyed…. By his son!
In recent months, there have been two accidents that remind of the importance of how pilots are trained. While neither of these accidents involved MAF staff, they both occurred in this area, to friends of friends within this community. One pilot was forced to do an emergency landing, when the engine of her plane failed near Numbulwar. Another had landing gear that failed to come down, so an emergency landing was required at Darwin Airport. In both of these accidents there was no loss of life because the pilots had prepared for these situations in their training. They knew what to do and were able to land their planes safely, despite significant challenges.
So after a busy weekend for the pilot’s, I am thankful for those who teach them, assess them and encourage them to be their best in the skies… and on the ground. And I’m glad our pilot’s choose safety, even when, as it did yesterday, it means sitting and waiting and entertaining toddlers for an extra hour at the airport before our flight, so that things can be done right!