AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 22

LICENSE TO LEARN

The right thing to do

BY ROD MACHADO

Save the slope people
RECENTLY, my wife summoned me to our patio deck
and pointed to puffs of smoke rising from the roof of
a condominium complex below us. I ran down our
slope, through brush and thorns, and approached a
tall, thick perimeter fence surrounding the condo.
My callouts to determine if someone was barbecuing
went unanswered. My angst was raised by the smell
of burning pine. Who barbecues with pine?
After making my way to the front of the complex, it became difficult to tell which condo had the
smoking roof. I banged on several doors and told
them about my smoke signal observations. No one
confessed to barbecuing or seeing smoke in their
backyard. OK, false alarm. Smoke happens. Slightly
embarrassed, I removed the thorns from my trousers
and made my way upslope to my office.

Sometimes our ability to behave properly is delayed-
often with fatal consequences-when we're worried
about how our actions will appear to others.

ROD MACHADO'S

newest book is the
How to Fly An
Airplane Handbook.

22 | AOPA PILOT January 2015

Twenty minutes later, I walked into the kitchen,
looked down at the same roof, and saw smoke
again-more smoke this time, along with the sounds
of a smoke alarm. Instinct sent me down the slope
again, through brush and thorns one more time. This
time, however, I stopped midway. My feet insisted
on moving, but the logical lobe of my brain called
an impromptu damage control meeting. My rational mind asked, "What will happen if you yell smoke
again and there is no fire?" Clearly, this wouldn't
increase my popularity with the slope dwellers.
Sometimes our ability to behave properly is
delayed-often with fatal consequences-when we're
worried about how our actions will appear to others.
After all, no one wants to be embarrassed, ridiculed,
or expelled from their peer group because they failed
to make the correct decision in a critical situation.
Whenever I find myself in these situations, I ask a
question that has never-never!-let me down in
terms of producing good results. I ask, "What is the
right thing to do here?" In an instant, my priorities
became clear, and the answer was obvious: Save the
slope people.
I continued down the slope one more time. On
this trip, I lost a sandal, tore a hole in my T-shirt,
had my face scratched by thorny bushes, and had the

cornea of my right eye slapped by a juniper branch.
The slope people must be saved, regardless of personal cost.
At the same perimeter fence, I yelled out again
to determine if anyone was barbecuing, all the while
smelling burning pine. No response. By this time, the
smoke alarm had ceased wailing. I ran around to the
front of the housing complex and banged on a few
doors again. This time, Slope Man Number 1 walked
out; took a long look at my "hobo-sapien" hairdo, partial footwear, red facial scars, and twitching right eye;
then said, "Dude, you're spacing out. There is no fire!"
That's when Slope Man Number 1's neighbor,
Slope Man Number 2, made an appearance and confessed to barbecuing. He apparently left his rear patio
door open and walked to the back of the house to take
a phone call. A wind shift drew smoke from his barbecue into the house, activating the fire alarm until
he eventually deactivated it. Slope Man Number 2
admitted to using wet pine logs to cook a steak (for
that authentic "forest fire" taste). This is a good reason never to miss "briquette day" at barbecue school.
Embarrassed? You bet I was. I did, however, do
the right thing, despite my hesitation to act.
There are many occasions in an airplane where
we're likely to delay doing the right thing as we contemplate how our behavior might appear to others.
Declaring an emergency, asking ATC for assistance,
or executing a go-around after a botched approach
are potentially embarrassing events for some pilots.
The amazing thing is that most pilots know the right
thing to do in these instances. Sometimes, however,
they don't do it-or don't do it quickly enough.
Here is where the question "What's the right
thing to do?" moves us beyond our concerns for image
and appearance. The question prods our logical mind
to identify the behavior needed to protect our passengers and ourselves. It inspires us to act with a sense of
moral authority and honor, and provides the ultimate
justification for behaving the way we did.
The next time you hesitate making a critical decision because you're unsure how others will interpret
your actions, ask, "What's the right thing to do?"
Hopefully, you'll choose wisely and save the slope
people.
AOPA
WEB

www.rodmachado.com


http://www.rodmachado.com

AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 5
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover4
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