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  Following my F-16 solo.
jalapeno or habanero peppers. Then, of course, there are the semi-surreptitious fighter pilot traditions that occur at the O-Club (in my day it was the modern-day, refined version of an old western saloon). These occur in the evening and may involve drinking, singing, playing a highly modified and physical version of billiards called “Crud,” the throwing and breaking of things, as well as verifying that you respond properly to code words like “Dead Bug.”
My first GA solo was in a Mooney Cadet (almost hit a party balloon on downwind), my first jet was a T-37 (almost forgot to restart the right engine after the IP hopped out), and my first in a fighter was the F-16 (just trying to “not screw the pooch”). Our first solo flight is something memorable to all pilots. And it should continue to be celebrated with the best (safe and politically correct) traditions.
Your Airworthiness
Of course, there is no soloing in the Part 121 world. But whether we are new to the airplane or have flown it for many years, at the airlines and in other multi-crew en- deavors, we have a partner to police our compliance with procedures, decision-making and piloting techniques. There are no traditions or celebrations for soloing an airliner, but as in other brotherhoods, airline pilots have stories to tell and ways to celebrate professionally (i.e., no eating strange things or breaking stuff).
And with two pilots, tact is essential when keeping each other from slipping off the rails while flying and when off duty. Nowadays, they have labeled this lovey- dovey, kumbaya approach to coordinating with the other pilot: CRM (Crew Resource Management). One MD-80 FO often highlighted my know-it-all seniority, missteps, and occasional brilliance using his signature quip. With a royal acknowledgment of my requests, his assessment and opinion of nonstandard or critical events, as well as deeds well-done, was announced with the retort: “Yes,
24 • TWIN & TURBINE / January 2021
Your Airworthiness,” or “I disagree, Your Airworthiness.” “Nicely done, Your Airworthiness,” or, “Your turn to buy, Your Airworthiness.” It was CRM at its most effective level of functionality. Greg has since retired (early), and I miss him.
The meaning of life is
to give life meaning.
– Viktor E. Frankl
I’m grateful that my family didn’t allow me to wander aimlessly, looking for the meaning of life.
My grandma, grandpa and a neighbor introduced me to the attributes of academia. My mom – time management, etiquette and chivalry. My dad – hunting, music, golf and flying. And now, I’ve spent my entire life flying airplanes, trusting but questioning academia, always using the best leadership and chivalry I could muster and applying a good effort towards etiquette. The views, the freedom, the intellectual and emotional gratification of aviation are all priceless. The most inspiring ones often being spiritual, the “touch the face of God” moments that only we pilots are occasionally afforded. When you have one, savor it and then share it with others.
Pay it Forward
If you want more kindness in the
world, put some there. – Zero Dean
In the world of GA, we are most often alone in our decision- making, regulatory compliance, application of flying tech- niques, and to catch our own mistakes. We have no one to tell us when we fall outside of parameters or completely off the rails – or to call us “Your Airworthiness.” Strict checklist discipline as well as continuous training and self-evaluation are critical in the endeavor to maintain our personal air- worthiness. It’s this level of professionalism that will help us in GA to stay safe and avoid a train wreck. But let’s try to have some fun along the way and pass our love of flying on to the younglings; they’re out there. It’s still possible to see an occasional car parked at the airport fence or near the FBO with folks watching airplanes come and go. Perhaps 2021, our post-COVID year, will be another new beginning for GA – and with our help, some pilot younglings as well. Happy New Year, my friends.
 Kevin Dingman has been flying for more than 40 years. He’s an ATP typed in the B737 and DC9 with 24,000 hours in his logbook. A retired Air Force major, he flew the F-16 and later performed as an USAF Civil Air Patrol Liaison Officer. He flies volunteer missions for the Christian organiz tion Wings of Mercy, is employed by a major airline, and owns and operates a Beechcraft Duke.Contact Kevin at dinger10d@

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