British poet T.S. Eliot began his 1922 poem, The Waste Land, with the observation that, “April is the cruelest month…” Clearly, he was not in our business. Because, for the air show professional, the competition isn’t even close. It’s September.
In addition to the hurricanes and tropical storms that routinely batter North America’s east coast in September (and disrupt or even cancel air shows from South Carolina to Nova Scotia), a disproportionately high number of our industry’s accidents have taken place in September. The reasons aren’t exactly clear. Perhaps a bit of complacency sets in over the whole business after five months of shows. It’s possible that rookies don’t feel like rookies anymore and begin to take chances that they would not have taken earlier in the air show season. Or it could just be that the season seems so close to being over that some of us start to relax prematurely.
Don’t become a victim of the air show community’s cruelest month.
Changing the culture of air show safety means breaking away from the behavior that has helped to generate unnecessary risk. This is one of them. Do a brief, but deliberate self-assessment. Is it possible that you are suffering from late season inattention or complacency? If you are, what are you going to do to mitigate this unnecessary risk?