August is always a stressful time of year in the air show industry. Many shows across the country are preparing for holiday weekend shows, and many of us are already in preparation for the end of the season and spending a week with each other at the ICAS Convention in December. Though the industry has suffered through some difficult tragedies this year, our actual air show flying has been free of accidents and major incidents. This combination of factors can often combine to distract us from the workload each weekend demands.
There are still several weeks of air shows remaining across North America, and it is critical to double our efforts to be alert and focused each week on the task at hand until the planes are finally parked and the crowds have gone home.
It is important for the entire air show industry to keep our collective eyes on the ball, and we have a few ideas for how you can maintain your focus through the home-stretch of the air show season:
- Fill out an Individual Risk Management worksheet. You can print one off here. Giving yourself an honest, critical assessment can help you identify stressors that could negatively impact your performance. This form is not just for air show performers, but for any and every person involved with the production of an air show. The more aware that we all become, the easier it will be to identify potential hazards.
- Remember your Sacred 60 Minutes. If you are a performer, you should force yourself to take the entire 60 minutes prior to your performance to clear your mind of distractions and focus on your individual performance. Visualize your routine. Check over your aircraft. Do whatever it is that you always do prior to flying your routine. It’s imperative that you provide yourself the time to mentally prepare for your performance.
- Continue your practice regimen. Yes, you’re flying better now than you were in April. And you may feel that you don’t need to practice as much as you did in April, May and June. But fight the urge to practice less. Take full advantage of every opportunity you have to practice, including the waivers established at the event site prior to show days. Focus on what you might do if one or two specific things go wrong. Don’t just practice flying your maneuvers under ideal conditions; simulate potential emergencies and practice what you would do if they happen at the most inopportune points in your air show performance.
As you prepare for the final air shows of the season, remember to finish strong. There is still one last push before we all get together in Las Vegas.