As the jet engines begin to spool up, the crowds start to gather, the smoke oil stock begins to rise and the last (hopefully) snow melts outside the ICAS office, it is critical that we all collectively do a checkup and self-assessment prior to getting fully immersed in the comings and goings of a full-throttle air show season. The beginning of the air show schedule brings all kinds of hope and expectation, but it also carries with it an increased demand on all persons involved.
As legendary Canadian Survivorman Les Stroud teaches, survival begins with assessing three zones around oneself to have a greater understanding of one’s capabilities, thereby increasing the odds for success. This approach can be modified slightly and made applicable to all of us as we prepare for the coming year. Take a minute to look at the following three zones and consider what areas need improvement or slight modification.
Zone 1: Your person. Consider the body and the mind. How are you feeling physically? How will your body react to the stress of an air show? How will it handle the sometimes grueling travel and performing schedule? How has your sleep been? Do you have any sickness (cold, flu, allergies) that could impact you? How are you feeling mentally? Do you have any issues stressing your mind outside of the air show (relationships, business, financial)? If you are a performer, have you practiced recently? How did you feel? How hard were you able to push yourself? Did you adequately recover from your last workout? Obviously, these are only some of the questions that you could ask yourself, but focus on a head-to-toe, mental and physical self-assessment to truly gauge your preparedness.
Zone 2: Your equipment. Consider those things in your immediate vicinity that you can directly control. How is your gear? Have you had your gear and equipment tested? Fresh batteries? How is your aircraft? When was your last major inspection? What was fixed or changed? What kinds of problems could have occurred during the maintenance, and how would that impact you? Are there any issues that have been lingering that you think should get another set of eyes?
Zone 3: Your surroundings. Consider the things going on around you at a larger scale. How will the people and things around you impact your ability to deliver? Is there someone at the air show that you have had a business or personal relationship that could be affecting you? How is the weather? Can that impact the air show at large or you, more specifically? Do you prefer a talkative air boss or a passive one? How does a particular kind of air boss impact your performance or state-of-mind?
By no stretch of the imagination do the above questions do true justice to the scope of possibilities that an air show event organizer, performer or support service provider can and should ask themselves when conducting a self-assessment, but when one considers the three zones of influence, it is easier to compartmentalize and make a more thorough assessment of oneself.