Should I Become a Pilot in Command?
One hot morning back in June, just before my pass to Qatar, an instructor pilot approached me as I was getting off work for the day. He asked if we could talk outside -- in a tone that indicated I had violated a regulation or acted insubordinate in some way. I followed him with my mind racing, wondering what he wanted to discuss. He began with a disclaimer that I needed to hear him out.
He pauses often while talking, as is his nature, and in a his halting way told me I needed to check my attitude in the cockpit; that I was too argumentative and needed just to follow instructions from the PC (pilot in command). I was defensive and did not respect the authority of the pilot in command, the instructor pilot told me. He was right, but as I began to answer to the accusations, he quickly cut me off, saying, "let me finish ... let me finish." I backed down and listened.
"There was a PC meeting last night and your name came up as a candidate for pilot in command. I was chosen to inform you of their opinion of your progress as a pilot. They concluded you need to adjust your attitude and hit the books harder, learning more about the aircraft systems."
I shook my head in agreement and said, "Yes sir!" We parted ways without another word.
While I walked back to my wood hut, I thought about what I had been told. This was not the first time I had considered becoming a PC. I imagined many more hours would pass before I was comfortable taking on the responsibility. At this point I was about200 hours in country, 350 total, nothing compared to the vast experience of many of our pilots in Alpha company. Three pilots flying with the unit served in Vietnam and each of them hold thousands of hours as pilots, individually. Collectively they hold tens of thousands of hours.
None the less the conversation gave me cause for thought. Would I be ready to take on PC? I decided to hit the books and try to log as many hours as I could in preparation.
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